CEDARVILLE — For Cedarville University Doctor of Pharmacy graduate Laura Sjoquist, research was not just a required component of the Pharm.D. program but a chance to make a difference and contribute to the academic conversation in an area of personal passion.

Sjoquist worked with Dr. Justin Cole, vice chair of pharmacy practice and director for the Center for Pharmacy Innovation, to write an article discussing the role of pharmacists in working with individuals diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The article was published online through Pharmacy Times.

During spring 2017 semester, Sjoquist met weekly with Cole to complete an independent study on neurodevelopmental disorders. ASD was one of many disorders discussed during the semester, but it became the focus for further research due to Sjoquist’s personal connection.

“This is very important to me because I have a family member who is on the spectrum, and just the impact I’ve been able to have through my education and advocating for him has been really empowering,” Sjoquist said. “Writing this article has provided the opportunity to inspire and equip other pharmacists to engage with these patients.”

To both Sjoquist and Cole, there seems to be a large gap in literature and pharmacy education when it comes to children with ASD. Their goal in writing the article was to enable pharmacists to engage more with the care of these young patients.

“We want pharmacists to have the tools and resources to know how to interact well and facilitate excellent care for children with ASD,” Cole, said.