Christopher Forst’s parents had no connection to Creighton University beyond their son. In fact, neither of them finished high school. But they understood the importance of a good education and supported their son in all his academic endeavors, including the Arkansas native’s decision to head north for Creighton’s pharmacy school.
Forst, BSPha’81, has long since established two endowments in his parents’ names for the School of Pharmacy and Health Professions — first, the Alexander J. and Martha H. Forst Endowed Scholarship and, more recently, the Alexander J. and Martha H. Forst Faculty Endowed Fund, which supports a faculty member who’s demonstrated excellence in the classroom.
“Anything that can help is important,” Forst says. “Creighton instilled in me that sense of giving and that sense of community.”
There’s a distinct quality, Forst says, both to the professionals who work at Creighton and those the University sends out into the world — “a high standard for their patients and their well-being that’s upfront and foremost.”
This quality is evident in Somnath Singh, PhD, a pharmacy services professor at Creighton and the most recent recipient of the Forst Faculty Endowed Fund.
Singh explained that the fund will not only support his research; it will support Creighton students, including undergrads, in getting to take part in that research.
“This is a great help in providing experience to pharmacy students,” he says. “It is also a great help in my teaching. To be a good teacher, one must be a good researcher so that one can teach the most relevant things happening in the profession of pharmacy.”
Singh’s research involves drug delivery. He and his students are currently trying to develop a slow-delivery system of a drug that, once inside the body, will produce hydrogen sulfide gas.
Hydrogen sulfide can be helpful in treating glaucoma, the condition linked to a buildup of pressure in the eye that can damage the optic nerve and lead to permanent vision loss.
“We want to reduce the pressure and to protect the eye from any further damage,” Singh says. “The fund will help me keep doing my research and exposing students to such exciting and interesting work.”
Singh says the fund is an extension of the longtime support he’s received since coming to Creighton nearly 16 years ago. Over the years, Creighton has not only given him the academic freedom to grow professionally, he says; it’s helped him grow spiritually.
Amy Wilson, PharmD’95, interim dean of the School of Pharmacy and Health Professions, says she would be hard-pressed to think of a faculty member more deserving of support than Singh.
Every year, she says, Singh is evaluating and evolving how he educates, driven by a restless desire to always be improving.
“He works harder at that than any faculty member I’ve seen, because he wants to make the experience for the students as good as it can be,” Wilson says. “We have great faculty who go above and beyond. The endowment fund is just one more way for us to recognize and promote the excellence they bring to Creighton.”