Visit Store
Visit Store
Authors > Kelly Dowhower Karpa, PhD

“There are little jokes and humor sporadically placed throughout Elsevier’s Integrated Review: Pharmacology, 2nd Edition, which will only be apparent to the astute reader, and the student who already understands pharmacology.” – Dr. Kelly Karpa

Under the Radar

One area of pharmacology that doesn’t get a lot of attention, or not nearly as much attention as it should, is dietary supplements. People are using dietary supplements as medicines. They’re not using them to supplement their diet, which is how they were originally intended. These supplements have pharmacologic effects; they have side effects; they interact with medications. Some people take these supplements instead of taking their medication. Making sure that students are aware that these supplements exist and that they understand some of their common uses is very important. We talk about that in Elsevier’s Integrated Review: Pharmacology and in the educational materials that we use in our classrooms.

What’s So Funny About Pharmacology?

We noticed that students were using review books instead of traditional textbooks, so we decided to create a review book that really focused on what it was that they needed to know: mechanisms of action and side effects. One of the areas where we saw a gap was in teaching medications in an organ-based format, which is completely novel and different from the other texts that were out there at the time that our book was being published. Another thing that makes Elsevier’s Integrated Review: Pharmacology unique is that there are little jokes and humor sporadically placed throughout the book, which will only be apparent to the astute reader, and the student who already understands pharmacology.

New in the Second Edition of Elsevier’s Integrated Review: Pharmacology

The biggest change from the first edition to the second edition of Elsevier’s Integrated Review: Pharmacology was the expansion of the biologic agents that have just exploded in the last decade or so. Along with biologics, we cover the idea of personalized medicine, using selectively-targeting-drugs specific to diseased tissues, and genetic testing to see which patients will benefit most from a medication or which patients might be more susceptible to drug side effects. We’ve also enhanced the chapter about cancer in the second edition.


Kelly Dowhower Karpa, PhD, RPh, is an associate professor in the Department of Pharmacology at Penn State University College of Medicine. Dr. Karpa is a pharmacist, researcher, and educator and serves as Director of Medical Pharmacology Instruction at Penn State. She received her BS in Pharmacy from University of the Sciences in Philadelphia and her PhD from Penn State University. Her clinical research interest lies in exploring the therapeutic aspects of probiotics.

Dr. Karpa is deeply involved in the educational mission at Penn State and teaches a wide range of pharmacology topics to medical students and other healthcare professionals using active learning tools such as team-based learning and simulation scenarios. She has been a staunch supporter of the Patient Centered Medical Home (PCMH) and plays a key role in promoting this model of care at the local and national levels. Dr. Karpa thoroughly enjoys working with patients to help them manage their mediations and chronic healthcare needs. Within Penn State, she co-directs a third and fourth year PCMH course to teach medical students safe and effective medication utilization in the context of medication reconciliation. She also directs a 4th year elective that teaches students the pharmacology of common dietary supplements.

Dr. Karpa has received state and national teaching awards including Preceptor of the Year from the Pennsylvania Pharmacist Association and the Pharmacology Educator Award from the American Society of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics. She authored the book Bacteria for Breakfast: Probiotics for Good Health and is a co-author of Elsevier’s Integrated Review: Pharmacology, 2nd Edition, the first edition of which was recognized as a “highly commended textbook” by the British Medical Society.

Related Authors: Mark Kester, PhDKent E. Vrana, PhD