School of Pharmacy 2024 Commencement Speakers

Esteemed alumni, Lauren Aleksunes ’07 (PHARM) and Sarah Thompson ’06 (PHARM) set to speak at graduation on May 5th.

The School of Pharmacy is pleased to announce Lauren Aleksunes as the commencement speaker for this year’s Pharm.D. ceremony. Aleksunes joined UConn as a Presidential Scholar and later earned her B.S. degree in Pharmacy Studies (’00) and Pharm.D. degree as a University Scholar with a focus on Biochemical Toxicology (’02). Her dedication to research led her to complete a Ph.D. in Pharmaceutical Sciences under the guidance of Dr. José Manautou (’07), followed by postdoctoral training at the University of Kansas Medical Center.

Currently a Professor of Pharmacology and Toxicology at Rutgers University’s Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy, Aleksunes is deeply committed to providing research training to students. She oversees various programs, including the Toxicology summer undergraduate, graduate, and postdoc training initiatives. Under her leadership, a vibrant Toxicology Pharm.D./Ph.D. program has flourished, producing scientists and nurturing the growth of aspiring scholars.

Lauren Aleksunes

Funded by the National Institutes of Health, Aleksunes’ research lab explores groundbreaking avenues in translational research. Her work delves into understanding how drugs and chemicals traverse the placenta, impacting pregnancy health, and uncovering the mechanisms through which anticancer drugs may affect kidney function.

“We look forward to Dr. Aleksunes sharing her insights and experiences with our graduating class,” says School of Pharmacy dean, Philip Hritcko. “I know she will inspire them as they embark on their own journeys of discovery and contribution to the world of pharmacy.”

Sarah Thompson, the B.S. ceremony commencement speaker, is the Head of Clinical Operations, Programs & Strategy for Verily.  She is responsible for clinical program design and development, program service and delivery, care management, pharmacy strategy and all virtual care operations.  Thompson focuses on developing Verily’s approach to care- including Medication Management strategies and use of devices to make care accessible, convenient, and engaging for patients.  Sarah is a strong proponent of team-based healthcare, leveraging technology and using a population health-based approach to achieve better health outcomes and reduce healthcare costs for patients.

Prior to joining Verily, Thompson served as a Vice President of Clinical Operations and Pharmacy for an Accountable Care Organization in Rhode Island where she was responsible for the organization’s population health strategy, multiple clinical programs and clinical operations.  While there, she integrated remote patient monitoring into clinical practice and introduced several technology platforms to enhance care.

Sarah Thompson

Thompson received her Pharm.D. degree from UConn, completed a drug development fellowship with the University of Buffalo, and earned her MBA and MS in Healthcare Leadership at Cornell University.  She is also the current UConn School of Pharmacy Advisory Board Chair.

“I hope Dr. Thompson’s dedication to patient-centered care will inspire our graduates,” says Dean Hritcko. “She embodies the spirit of innovation and leadership that we strive to instill in all of our students.”