Trading pills for coffee creamer
CUW pharmacy research fellow develops product

By Kali Thiel - Special to the News Graphic

April 24, 2018

Kwadwo Owusu-Ofori, who has a doctorate in pharmacy and is now serving a two-year fellowship with the Concordia University Wisconsin School of Pharmacy, examines a tank of zebrafish that are used for research.
Submitted photo

MEQUON — Who knew a coffee creamer could be so beneficial?

Six years ago, Kwadwo Owusu-Ofori set out to mitigate the side effects of anti-anxiety and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder medications by starting a company that designs pharmaceutical products “beyond the pill.”

Instead of ingesting a daily capsule that can cause fogginess, weight changes or other unpleasant side effects, patients can instead visit Owusu-Ofori’s Etsy shop to try a blend of anxiety-relieving vitamins in the form of a coffee creamer or hot chocolate mix.

The goal is to increase a patient’s compliance to these medications by reducing unnecessary side effects and tapping into pleasurable activities that are already part of a patient’s regular routine.

“Drinking coffee is a habit that most people around the world already have, so adding daily vitamins that improve mental health to this habit will make it easier to remember and easier to take,” Owusu-Ofori said. “We don’t get any health benefits from the coffee creamers that are currently available on the market, so why not develop a product that makes them more beneficial?”

Kwadwo Owusu-Ofori has developed a coffee creamer and hot chocolate mix that contain a variety of vitamins that are intended to serve as a substitute for pills many take for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.
Submitted photo

Owusu-Ofori is just a couple of years into his effort, but the market response is already promising. Now he’s looking to take his efforts to the next level while gaining experience as an instructor through Concordia University of Wisconsin’s inaugural Pharmaceutical and Administrative Sciences Fellowship Program.

The two-year fellowship, which began last month, is the brainchild of Concordia’s School of Pharmacy, specifically its Department of Pharmaceutical and Administrative Sciences.

Owusu-Ofori, who graduated from University of Wisconsin-Madison with his doctorate in pharmaceutical sciences and previously worked as the Milwaukee Health Department’s first public health laboratory operations manager, was among dozens of applicants worldwide who vied for the new training opportunity.

The goal of the fellowship program is to offer an opportunity similar to a faculty member experience, said Robert Burlage, CUW Pharmaceutical and Administrative Sciences department chair.

Part of the fellow’s time will be devoted to research, while the other part will focus on all of the critical aspects of teaching: syllabus development, assessments, organization of lecture materials and actual in-class instruction.

“The fellowship is designed to polish the fellow for the next step of gaining employment as a professor,” Burlage said. “Many of our faculty have shared experiences as Ph.D.s who were hindered in that first academic job application by the lack of any significant teaching experience. We were all adept at research, and that counts for a lot, but teaching was being overlooked.”

Over the next two years, Owusu-Ofori will not only engage in every aspect of the university teaching experience, he’ll continue his research on new treatments for anxiety and ADHD.

Two School of Pharmacy faculty members, Christopher Cunningham and Michael Pickart, are serving as his mentors as Owusu-Ofori looks to utilize Concordia’s Zebrafish Research Center to take his coffee creamers and hot chocolates through the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval process.

“It’s really an honor to be here at Concordia among such accomplished individuals who are willing to take time out of their busy schedules to make me more competitive for a full faculty position,” Owusu-Ofori said. “I look forward to all that’s ahead of me.”