UM Postdoctoral Fellow Wins National Award for Graduate Research

May 04, 2018

 MISSOULA – University of Montana postdoctoral fellow Rachel Dalton recently received a Presidential Trainee Award at the 2018 American Society for Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics annual meeting. The award recognizes the research she conducted as a graduate student at UM.

The Presidential Trainee Award is given to the top 10 percent scoring abstracts submitted by students and postdoctoral fellows for presentation at the ASCPT annual meeting. This year’s meeting was March 21-24 in Orlando, Florida. Dalton was one of 19 students from around the country who received the award.

UM postdoctoral student Rachel Dalton receives the Presidential Trainee Award at the recent 2018 American Society for Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics annual meeting.Dalton earned both her doctorate in pharmacy and master’s of science degree in pharmaceutical sciences from UM. Originally from Muskegon, Michigan, Dalton currently works in Associate Professor Erica Woodahl’s lab at UM and plans to pursue a future working toward clinical implementation of pharmacogenetic testing with a focus on rural and medically underserved populations.

Dalton’s research focuses on learning more about why people respond differently to the same medications.

“There are many pieces to the puzzle, but one important factor is differences in our DNA,” she said. “The DNA that codes for CYP2D6 – an enzyme that breaks down drugs – can vary widely between people. Current technology used in the clinic isn’t great at detecting these differences.

“My collaborators and I found that we can detect them using a combination of newer DNA sequencing technology and specialized software tools,” Dalton said. “These findings can help clinicians use information about CYP2D6 to help choose the best medications for people.

 “It was exciting to be around people who were interested in my research and to feel that I am making a useful contribution to my field,” she said.

“This is a highly prestigious award,” Woodahl said, “and to my knowledge, Rachel is the first recipient of the award from UM.”

The award-winning ASCPT abstracts are detailed online at by clicking on “showcase top trainee abstracts.” Dalton’s award-winning abstract is in video form at


Contact: Rachel Dalton, UM postdoctoral fellow,