Faculty Directory

Rebecca Miranda RomeroPhD

Rebecca Miranda RomeroPhD

Lecturer, Pharmacology and Pharmaceutical Sciences

Department of Pharmacology and Pharmaceutical Sciences

Rebecca Romero received her PhD from the Keck School of Medicine at USC in biochemistry and molecular biology with an emphasis in computational chemistry. She is a lecturer in the Department of Pharmacology and Pharmaceutical Sciences, and her focus is to teach and help coordinate graduate and pharmaceutical courses for students in USC Mann. Romero’s lecture topics have included: functional group chemistry, acids and bases, buffer solutions, kinetics and stability of pharmaceuticals, biopharmaceutics, dissolution, absorption and permeability, pharmaceutical formulations (solutions, emulsions and tablets), aerosols, intestinal drug transporters, ointments, creams and lotions, and transdermal delivery, liposomes, biologics, nanoparticles/microparticles, polymers, nasal and pulmonary delivery, nucleic acids, docking to protein targets, basic pharmacokinetics and drug design.

Romero is also interested in integrating the basic science courses and has been active in helping to convert the basic science PharmD curriculum from the lecture-only format to a more learner-centered, project-based approach.

Areas of Expertise

  • In Silico Pharmacokinetics
  • Biochemistry
  • Computational Chemistry
  • Pharmaceutical Formulations
  • Education

    Keck School of Medicine of USC


  • Links
  • Research Focus


    Simulation of Pharmacokinetics in Silico

    Dr. Romero's current research interests are in pharmacokinetics and the simulation of pharmacokinetics in silico. Previous research interest includes analysis of the structure of DNA and trinucleotide repeat DNA associated with Fragile X syndrome, a genetic disease that results in mental impairment. She is also interested in nucleic acid structures and the design of nucleic acid-based therapeutics using computational approaches and experimental work involving electrophoresis and chemical probing.

  • Selected Articles

    Teaching of Biopharmaceutics in a Drug Design Course: Use of GastroPlus as Educational Software

    Journal of Chemical Education
    Rebecca M. Romero, Michael B. Bolger, Noam Morningstar-Kywi, and Ian S. Haworth

    Drug design and development requires collaboration among scientists with diverse expertise. In early-stage drug design, establishment of promising drug candidates requires integration of structure-based molecular design with biopharmaceutics and ADMET (absorption, distribution, metabolism, excretion, and toxicity) principles. Much of this work is increasingly computational. Thus, students in a drug design course should learn the basis for and effects of candidate small molecules binding to therapeutic targets and the importance of simultaneous understanding of ADMET characteristics that will largely determine if the molecule can achieve a therapeutically relevant concentration at the target site and become an orally deliverable drug. This second aspect of education in drug design has been relatively overlooked compared to structure-based design. Here, we describe a course using sophisticated simulation and modeling software, GastroPlus and ADMET Predictor, which are commonly used in the pharmaceutical industry. Our teaching approach has evolved over a decade in early graduate and advanced undergraduate settings. We use a combination of short lectures, software demonstration, and hands-on use, which allows students to “design a drug” with incorporation of structural and ADMET considerations. Student feedback indicated that the use of the software and the course design were helpful in enhancing their understanding of the importance of biopharmaceutics properties and ADMET in drug design. GastroPlus and ADMET Predictor have recently become more accessible to educators, and our experience using this software in an educational setting may be helpful for instructors who wish to develop a similar course.

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    Teaching information literacy concepts in pharmaceutics through video

    Pharmacy Education
    AJ Chatfield, RM Romero

    Objective: The objective was to determine if online, asynchronous video content could be used to teach information literacy concepts successfully to pharmacy students in a pharmaceutics course. Method: An existing in-person lecture was transferred to a series of online videos. Students enrolled in the course who agreed to participate took a 13-question pre-test, watched videos, and completed the same post-test, along with a survey of their opinions towards the videos. Scores on each of the questions on the pre-and post-test changed positively and significantly. Students slightly preferred videos to in-person instruction. Result: The results suggest that asynchronous videos can be used to teach information literacy concepts to pharmacy students and this knowledge is retained for the duration of the course.

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    Evaluation of in-class and online discussion meetings in a biopharmaceutics problem-based learning class

    Currents in Pharmacy Teaching and Learning
    Asma El-Magboub, Ian S. Haworth, Brian T. Sutch, Rebecca M. Romero

    Objectives To evaluate faculty-led discussion meetings (with about eight students) conducted face-to-face (in-class) or by synchronous, real-time videoconference (online), in a biopharmaceutics course taught in a facilitated problem-based learning (PBL) format. Methods Three methods were used to compare in-class versus online discussion sessions for two semesters. The first method involved three parameters that measured the quality of interactions between faculty (facilitator) and student (Fc–St), participation of students in the discussions (Par), and student–student interactions (St–St). The second method assessed student's perceptions of the discussions with surveys. The third method mapped the interactions (a sociogram) between faculty (facilitator) and students in a discussion. Results There were significantly lower scores for Par and St–St (P < 0.05) and a tendency for lower Fc–St (P < 0.06) in online discussions compared to in-class. The surveys indicated that the decrease in scores for online discussions was not due to technology barriers, acceptance, or satisfaction. The lower interaction scores were supported by mapping of discussions as sociograms. Conclusion PBL discussion meetings can be held online because of the increased availability and acceptance of the technology, but may lead to reduced interaction and participation. Our findings suggest that synchronous online discussions may require the facilitator to foster and stimulate student participation and student–student interactions in an active manner that may differ from the approach used for in-class discussions.

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    Biological targets and pharmacology of curcumin

    Book Chapter
    Asma El-Magboub ,Pornchai Rojsitthisak, Chawanphat Muangnoi, Wisut Wichitnithad, Rebecca M. Romero, Ian S Haworth

    Curcumin is the major component of the yellow dye of turmeric, an Indian spice that is extracted from the rhizome of the tropical plant Curcuma longa, which belongs to the Zingiberaceae family. In this chapter, we discuss the pharmacological activities of curcumin and explore the molecular bases for these activities. We then review the proven and potential clinical uses of curcumin. Curcumin is well known historically as a curative agent, but its mechanism of action is intricate. The pharmacological effects of curcumin appear to be the result of a synergism of networks of weak biochemical interactions with multiple biological targets in interrelated signaling pathways. These targets include enzymes such as cyclooxygenase, lipoxygenase and protein kinases, and transcription factors such as NF-κB, STAT and Nrf2. Modulation of these molecules influences downstream affectors that produce the antiinflammatory, antioxidant, chemopreventive, anticancer, and antimicrobial activities of curcumin. These effects have been examined in clinical trials of curcumin for pain and inflammatory diseases, cancer, Alzheimer disease, cardiovascular diseases, and diabetes. The trials have used variable doses of curcuminwith different frequencies and duration, with the general conclusion that high doses of curcumin at the level of grams are required to obtain therapeutic effects.

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    Curcumin: Synthesis, Emerging Role in Pain Management and Health Implications

    Book Chapter

    Examples of plant-derived pharmaceuticals that have become the focus of continuous and exponential research and development interest have, to date, been somewhat scarce. After a long period, the last two decades have been characterized by a 100-fold increase in the number of scientific articles published annually that are of relevance to the use of curcumin in biomedicine.

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    Design, synthesis and biological activities of curcumin prodrugs

    Book Chapter
    Asma El-Magboub ,Pornchai Rojsitthisak, Chawanphat Muangnoi, Wisut Wichitnithad, Rebecca M. Romero, Ian S Haworth

    Curcumin has many potential pharmacological effects and may have therapeutic applications in many disease states, as discussed in detail in the previous chapter. However, the potential clinical efficacy of curcumin is limited by its physicochemical properties of poor water solubility and instability, which result in low bioavailability. Prodrugs of curcumin offer an approach to improvement of the biopharmaceutical and pharmacokinetic properties, and may allow exploitation of the pharmacological effects of curcumin. In this chapter, we first review the physicochemical and pharmacokinetics of curcumin. We then describe the design of curcumin prodrugs with enhanced water solubility and increased chemical stability that can be converted back to free curcumin upon bioactivation in vivo. We highlight recent achievements in this area, with a focus on the design, synthesis and evaluation of prodrugs based on promoieties including amino acids, fatty acids, nucleic acids, dicarboxylic acids, and polymeric materials such as hyaluronic acid and polyethylene glycol. This chapter provides the basis for optimization of the physicochemical and biopharmaceutical properties and the biological activities of curcumin prodrugs, with the goal using of these curcumin derivatives in clinical applications.

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