Sunday, May 28, 2023

(Courtesy of Touro) Teaneck resident Rebecca Bock was awarded a Student Research Fellowship Grant from Touro University to study the effects of cannabinoids, or chemicals found in marijuana plants, as a potential treatment for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

She is conducting her research at Touro College of Pharmacy (TCOP), where she will be a first-year student this fall.

Bock will be working in the lab of Fair Lawn resident Dr. Zvi Loewy, associate dean of research and professor, Department of Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Sciences at TCOP. She has been working at Touro under Dr. Loewy’s supervision since last summer.

“I am delighted that Rebecca received the Student Research Grant from Touro University,” said Dr. Loewy. “Rebecca’s project is integral to the research focus in my laboratory and addresses a critical unmet healthcare need.”

Third Leading Cause of Death

COPD refers to a group of serious respiratory diseases considered to be the third leading cause of death in the world. According to the Centers for Disease Control, COPD makes breathing difficult for 16 million Americans.

The disease is characterized by inflammation in the lungs that limits breathing. The standard treatment of antibiotics coupled with steroids often fails because bacteria in the lungs are frequently contained in biofilms, coated structures that block the penetration of antibiotics.

Bock is researching whether cannabinoids can break through those biofilms formed by bacteria common to COPD, and provide a new treatment for the infections that cause COPD.

Finding a Calling

Bock’s interest in science and research began at The Frisch School with classes in chemistry and a biology research elective, where she worked in a lab.

“From that point on, I knew I wanted to work in the health field, even if being a physician wouldn’t be my end goal. Pharmacy was the perfect mix of my scientific interests and the medical world,” she said.

Bock furthered her science knowledge in the Honors Program at Yeshiva University’s Stern College for Women, where she founded the campus pharmacy club and was a teaching assistant. She received the school’s Ida Lamport Hurewitz Memorial Award for Excellence in Natural Sciences, and in May graduated summa cum laude with a B.A. in biology.

She said she is excited about starting her pharmacy studies at Touro in the fall, and about her research on treating COPD. “I am so appreciative of Touro for this incredible opportunity to conduct research that could eventually have a huge impact on the world,” said Bock.

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