Former National Cancer Institute Biochemist Joins Pharmacy Faculty

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by Nicole Hackett, Student Public Relations Writer

Dr. Timothy Veenstra, associate professor of pharmaceutical sciences at Cedarville University, is a biochemist by training. But in his mind, he is more like a mechanic. 

“Mechanics not only replace dysfunctional parts, but they can also tell you why the part isn't working properly,” said Veenstra. “I tell pharmacy students that it's good to recognize the correct drug to give a patient, but it is also important to understand how that drug is fixing them.”

Veenstra is from Canada, where he earned his doctoral degree in biochemistry from the University of Windsor. He did his postdoctoral fellowship at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, which led him to move to the United States. Veenstra has authored nearly 400 publications, worked as a biochemist for more than 25 years and taught as a professor for almost five years.

“I always wanted to be in science. I don't ever remember not wanting to be a scientist,” said Veenstra.

While working as a biochemist, Veenstra focused on laboratory research. He has worked with the federal government, including the National Cancer Institute, the largest branch of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). He’s also served as a senior vice president of a small biotech company that developed diagnostics and therapeutics for neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.

— Tim Veenstra

About five years ago, Veenstra wanted a career change, so he became a professor in the science department at Maranatha Baptist University in Watertown, Wisconsin. Now, four years later, Veenstra has joined the faculty in Cedarville’s school of pharmacy so he can teach up-and-coming pharmacists the ways of the biochemist “mechanic.”

“I believe that a pharmacist should understand how a medication works because it allows them to be aware of other issues that the drug may cause within the patient and also allows the pharmacist to understand why a medication may not be effective in a particular patient,” said Veenstra. 

Veenstra believes that this deeper understanding of medications and how drugs function also helps students remember what each medication is used for.

“If you understand that a transmission relays power from your engine to your tires via gears and this enables your car to move, this will help you better remember that a transmission helps the car move,” explained Veenstra. “Anyone can look up what a medication does. A real expert knows how a medication functions.”

Located in southwest Ohio, Cedarville University is an accredited, Christ-centered, Baptist institution with an enrollment of 4,380 undergraduate, graduate and online students in more than 150 areas of study. Founded in 1887, Cedarville is recognized nationally for its authentic Christian community, rigorous academic programs, including its Doctor of Pharmacy program, strong graduation and retention rates, accredited professional and health science offerings and high student engagement ranking. For more information about Cedarville University, visit www.cedarville.edu.