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HCC professor contributes to NIDA site

Dr. Elaine Ashby

Hagerstown Community College professor Elaine Ashby recently worked as a consultant for the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) website.  

Ashby, a professor of biology and chemistry who helped to create HCC’s pharmacy technician program, was part of a consulting team that helped to plan, build, and edit NIDA’s new site, which can be viewed at www.easyread.drugabuse.gov. 

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the goal of the site is to provide easy-to-read information about neuroscience and drug abuse prevention and treatment to adults with low literacy levels. The site includes several features designed to make it more accessible to low-literacy adults including a large default text size, graphics, and videos. The site also uses “ReadSpeaker” software, a text-to-speech tool that provides audio versions of each page and shows synchronized highlighting of the text that is currently being read.

Ashby says that she became involved with NIDA’s project because of her dual background in pharmacy and education. She first began teaching at HCC in 1997 and prior that position, worked as the HCC laboratory coordinator and as a research assistant at the USDA Appalachian Fruit Research Station in Kearneysville, W.Va. Since 2010, Ashby has also worked as a part-time pharmacist at Home Care Pharmacy in Hagerstown, Reed’s Pharmacy in Maryland and West Virginia, and at Potomac Pharmatech.

“Although my role in developing the site was minor, the importance of helping the public understand drug abuse is major,” said Ashby. “This is an illness that is destroying our friends, families, and communities and one that we can only hope to fight once we understand it better.  Tens of thousands of Americans die each year of drug overdoses and hundreds of thousands seek medical attention from the effects of prescription and non-prescription drugs. This site was developed to be a center where people of all ages and backgrounds can begin to learn more.”

Ashby has a doctorate of pharmacy from Shenandoah University; a master’s degree in biology from Shippensburg University; a master’s degree in business administration from West Virginia University; and a bachelor’s degree in biology from UMBC. She has worked at HCC since 1985.