UBC Reports | Vol. 48 | No. 7 | May
Pharmacist has Prescription for Success
Researcher applies investigative solutions.
By Hilary Thomson
When colleagues say they can almost see Evan Kwong's wheels turning
they're not talking about his mountain bike. They're talking about
his work as a researcher.
Kwong, who will graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy
this month, has already shown himself to be a skilled investigator
with an impressive list of publications and research awards to his
"Evan is a perfect match for research," says Assoc. Prof.
Kishor Wasan who directs the faculty's summer student research program.
"He is an intellectual with an ability to examine a problem
from all angles and think it through. As a researcher, that's what
it's all about."
Kwong's interest in research was sparked in high school, while
completing co-op work experience programs at UBC's Zoology Dept.
and at Kinetek Pharmaceuticals Inc., a UBC spin-off company.
"I like research because the work is all new and exciting,
plus I can explore by myself."
After studying with Wasan as a student research scientist during
first- and second-year Pharmacy, Kwong spent a summer at the University
of Wisconsin at Eau Claire working in the lab of one of Wasan's
colleagues, who mistook the then 19-year-old for a talented grad
A lecture on pharmacogenetics -- the study of how individual genetic
differences affect the body's ability to accept and process drugs
-- got him interested in clinical research being done by faculty
members Prof. Marc Levine and Assoc. Prof. Thomas Chang. They are
looking at how children's genetic differences affect the pain-killing
capacity of codeine prescribed for dental pain.
Kwong has been developing genotyping assays to identify different
gene types among participants in the clinical study. His affinity
for bench science is matched by a desire to counsel patients and
do clinical research. As a student pharmacist at a Vancouver Island
hospital, he was included in an interprofessional team that provided
comprehensive patient care.
"Working in pharmacies has given me a chance to develop my
skills," he says. "Getting familiar with the drugs and
having contact with patients has tested and built my knowledge."
Although research projects are his passion, Kwong points to an
engineering feat as one of the highlights of his undergraduate years.
He worked with students from a variety of faculties to create UBC's
first solar car -- the Raven -- and drove the vehicle in a preliminary
qualifying event in Michigan.
Under his own power, he is a mountain-biker and has served as treasurer
of the Alma Mater Society Bike Co-op and as a volunteer, building
and fixing bicycles.
Kwong is the recipient of many awards for scholarship and research
and recently earned a Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research
Masters Trainee Award. He returns to UBC this fall to continue his
research work toward a master's degree.