About Tom James, PhD, and more news

Thomas James in his own words

Tom James, Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry chair, received his PhD in analytical chemistry from the University of Wisconsin and worked as a special NIH Fellow for the Johnson Research Foundation at the University of Pennsylvania before coming to UCSF as assistant professor in 1973. He was made professor of chemistry and pharmaceutical chemistry and radiology in 1983. He was selected to be vice chair of pharmaceutical chemistry in 1992 and chair in 1995. Tom continues to do extensive research and has been a valuable mentor to his students over the years.

What were your early experiences with the department?

In 1973, I replaced Frank Goyan, a beloved faculty member who was retiring. Frank did not do research but was well known for his warmth and generosity. Apparently, the decision was made to hire someone who was Frank’s antithesis. This did make it a bit difficult for me, as I could certainly not be an “Uncle Frank.”

What are the missions and goals of the department?

The department of pharmaceutical chemistry has had and will continue to have as its central focus research emphasizing chemical and physical approaches to biological problems. Our faculty, academic staff, and students develop individual expertise in these subject areas, with our faculty members being internationally recognized for their research. At the same time, all faculty members exhibit a collaborative attitude towards research, such that more complex problems can be tackled than can be accomplished in a single lab.

When I travel to other institutions, my departmental colleagues are often mentioned by name, and I am often asked how we managed to bring together these particular people all in the same place. We have had innovative and visionary leaders such that strong basic scientists were hired into a School of Pharmacy even three decades ago. We do not strive to be better than other schools of pharmacy in the quality of our research. Rather, we expect to do the very best research in the world in whatever field we might work.

Tell me a little about yourself, personally.

Hmmm…about me personally? Well, as of this past weekend, I am now a grandfather for the second time. For me, that’s pretty cool. I’m not the slightest bit prejudiced, but I have the cutest seven-month-old granddaughter and four-day-old grandson. I have traveled more than just about anybody I know personally. I’ve visited about 100 countries. I enjoy kayaking and rafting, although I don’t get to do this nearly as often as I would like, especially in recent years. I have paddled down several class 4 and 5 rivers throughout the world, including the Bio Bio in Chile, the Zambezi just below Victoria Falls in Zambia, the Colorado through the Grand Canyon, the Tully in Australia, as well as numerous rivers on the west coast of the U.S.

I bought the land and designed our house on graph paper in the early 80s, selecting all materials. A real architect, of course, put in real foundations and real utilities in constructing a real blueprint. My undoubtedly antisocial tendencies require the tranquility and quiet of the 11-acre property in Marin as home. I personally seek a 1,000-acre ranch on the Lost Coast, but my wife balks at this distance from a decent cappuccino.

ACPE PharmD accreditation site visit

A very successful site visit was held in February, thanks to faculty, staff, and especially the self-study committee, co-chaired by Barbara Sauer, Department of Clinical Pharmacy, and Susan Levings, Dean’s Office. Mary Anne Koda-Kimble, dean, reports:

The team was impressed with all of the groups with whom they met and appreciative of the hospitality extended to them by the staff. Overall, the ACPE [American Council on Pharmaceutical Education] team found the self-study report to be comprehensive, candid, and well-organized. They validated our findings of substantial progress since their last visit and our assessment that we are in compliance with the standards; they concur with our plans for improvement.

As one of the outstanding comprehensive schools of pharmacy in the country, the team believes that UCSF has a special leadership role in professional as well as graduate education and research. A spirit of continuous quality enhancement pervades the school. A formal report will be received in late March.

New School of Pharmacy web site

A new School of Pharmacy Web site is scheduled to go live on March 15. The site is a customized version of the Web template system developed by the UCSF Office of Public Affairs, which reinforces the University’s standardized identity system and eases the development of additional School Web pages while giving the School a unified Web look.

Bringing this new site online is a committee with members from both the School of Pharmacy and the Office of Public Affairs. From the School are Web Manager Frank Farm, Associate Dean Susan Levings and a Web team including Associate Dean Angela Hawkins, Clinical Professor Bob Ignoffo and Student Affairs Director Cindy Watchmaker. From Public Affairs are Web Communications Manager Andy Evangelista, Senior Graphic Designer Martha Fitzgerald, Web Developer Julie Bernstein and Web Programmer Alex Kerr.

The new Web site is the result of hundreds of hours of editing and writing, focus group studies, planning meetings, Web site reviews, and Web usability studies.

Bio-organic, Biomedical Mass Spectrometry Resource renewed

Al Burlingame, Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, received word that the Biotechnology Program of the National Center for Research Resources, NIH awarded a five-year renewal to the School for support of the national Bio-organic, Biomedical Mass Spectrometry Resource, for $12.3 million. This award involves the implementation of a new high-throughput protein identification center for proteomics based on the recently developed, automated technology, the MALDI TOF/TOF MS. Al Burlingame’s group played a major role in developing this resource with Applied Biosystems, Inc. in Framingham, Massachusetts. They took delivery of the first beta site unit in July 2001. Research projects of over 150 investigators on campus and the Bay Area, as well as worldwide are beneficiaries of this national resource.

Koda-Kimble testifies at California legislative hearing on national examinations for pharmacists

Mary Anne Koda-Kimble, dean, testified in support of AB108 at a hearing held in January by the California Legislature. This bill was introduced this year to allow California graduates to take the national exam in order to be licensed in California. The bill passed out of its policy committee, but was amended significantly in the fiscal committee. The way the bill now reads, the national exam is not an option, but the Board must administer the California exam 12 times a year. Mary Anne completed her testimony by saying:

I know that some will shape this debate around the issue of a pharmacist shortage. In my opinion, manpower is a tenuous, even unnecessary criterion to take into consideration when deciding this issue. There are other, more compelling, completely objective reasons for adopting the NAPLEX [North American Pharmacists Licensure Examination] in California and they all boil down to the simple fact that today’s pharmacy graduates across the country are well prepared professionals and are excellently matched to California’s health care needs. A national standard examination such as the NAPLEX makes a lot of sense and would assure the free flow of all competent pharmacists to their chosen practice destinations.

Pharmacists allowed to provide emergency contraception

Ken Lem and Ron Ruggeiro, Department of Clinical Pharmacy, have developed a two-hour self-study program, much of it on video, on emergency contraception (EC). California legislation SB1169 went into effect January 1, 2002 and allows pharmacists to prescribe EC if they have a collaborative agreement with a physician and have taken an EC course. The video is funded by Long’s Drugs and the Public Health Institute and will be distributed first to Long’s pharmacists.

Medical Center prepares for JCAHO Mock Survey

Daniel Dong, director, and Mina Shahkarami, assistant director, of the Department of Pharmaceutical Services are preparing UCSF Medical Center pharmacists and staff for a mock Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) survey. This Mock Survey is scheduled for May 6 through 10 and is a way to ensure readiness for the real survey in 2004.

JCAHO has been accrediting hospitals for more than 40 years. Its accreditation is a nationwide seal of approval that indicates a hospital meets high performance standards. This accreditation helps hospitals improve their performance, raise the level of patient care, and demonstrate accountability in the rapidly changing health care marketplace. The UCSF Medical Center has consistently been performing well in these site visits, and we are looking forward to yet another successful visit.

Federal Pharmacy Program

Federal pharmacists from all over the country met at Laurel Heights from January 27–30 for continuing education courses coordinated by Ken Lem, Department of Clinical Pharmacy, who has presented this valuable program for more than 15 years.

Symposium honoring Kollman held by UCSF and the Biophysical Society

In February, 300 scientists from academia and industry met in San Francisco to honor the memory of Peter Kollman, Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, and to discuss molecular simulations in structural biology and drug discovery. The symposium was organized by Ken Dill, Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, Thomas Cheatham, University of Utah, and Kennie Merz, Pennsylvania State University.

Peter, whose work profoundly influenced computational chemistry, structural biology, and drug discovery, was professor of chemistry and pharmaceutical chemistry at UCSF from 1971 until his untimely death last May. The meeting was sponsored by the UCSF Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry and the UCSF Molecular Design Institute. It was co-sponsored by the Biophysical Society as a satellite meeting of the Year 2002 Annual Biophysical Society Meeting.

Tom Ferrin, Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, chaired the section on protein modeling, and Tack Kuntz, Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, presented Reminiscences: The Joy of Science at the dinner. Mary Anne Koda-Kimble, dean, and Ken Dill welcomed the participants to the symposium.

New drugs program sponsored by Rho Chi

A program on new drugs, sponsored by the UCSF Alpha Lambda Chapter of Rho Chi, the National Pharmacy Honor Society, was presented February 27.

Clinical pharmacy faculty members who presented the program were:

  • Vicky Dudas, who spoke on newly approved anti-infectives
  • John Flaherty, who addressed the latest in HIV medications
  • Candy Tsourounis, who discussed the latest in ADHD treatment.

A large number of people attended and were very enthusiastic about the program.

Teaching awards

Members of the Classes of 2003 and 2004 nominated and voted for the teachers who stood out for their special work with students. There were many strong candidates. The teachers received their awards at ceremonies in February. The class officers made the following comments.

Class of 2003

Betty-Ann Hoener, Teacher of the Year, 2000–2001

Dr. Betty-Ann Hoener’s BPS classes are so enjoyable that we can’t help but attend. Who would have thought that pharmacokinetics could be presented in such a straightforward and fun way? Her sense of humor and that infectious giggle combined with a genuine interest in our academic career is what makes Dr. Hoener so special. She has been an incredible mentor whom we will always admire and remember.

Jennifer Gray, Teaching Assistant of the Year, 2000–2001

By teaching us to trust our instincts and to think for ourselves, Jen made us feel more confident in calculating those tricky peaks and troughs. She always told us that we knew the answers, even during those times when we really didn’t. No one ever felt afraid to ask questions. When we had trouble in understanding a concept, Jen was very patient and didn’t mind repeating herself until every student completely understood. She always had alternative ways to help us approach and solve pharmacokinetic problems.

Class of 2004

Betty-Ann Hoener, Teacher of the Year, 2000–2001

Betty-Ann Hoener introduced us to how drugs are delivered in the body, teaching us in a thorough, yet simplified manner. She always went through the problems systematically, giving us ample examples to follow…If we didn’t understand the problem, Dr. Hoener was more than happy to explain it. She was always easily accessible before or after class or during her office hours. Her whimsical comments along with her smile always made us laugh—and made each lecture go by fast. You could always hear one of us singing her praises, ‘She’s a great teacher. She’s my favorite.’ That’s why Dr. Betty-Ann Hoener is our teacher of the year.

Charles Kung, Teaching Assistant of the Year, 2000–2001

Knowledgeable is an adjective that describes many teaching assistants. Add to that, devoted, down-to-earth, hard working, patient, personable, and there you have an accurate picture of our teaching assistant of the year, Charles Kung. Charles taught us the ins and outs of two of our very first classes, biopharmaceutics and biostatistics. He taught in an easy-to-follow, efficient manner, emphasizing only applicable and crucial concepts. Charles welcomed questions and would stay after his discussion sections ended to enlighten us further. Charles went the extra, extra mile several times when he would e-mail the entire class detailed explanations of concepts that several students deemed confusing.

Volker Doetsch, Teacher of the Year, Honorable Mention, 2000–2001

Volker Doetsch is all about simplicity. In our second quarter of physical chemistry, he put the most complex kinetics ideas into simple and easy-to-understand concepts that we could easily apply. When we were confused, he had great patience in listening to our questions, slowing the pace when we needed it, and explaining diligently until we understood. He was also available to speak outside of class about kinetics or research or just about anything. He is a great professor who is in tune with how his students are doing in class and adjusts to make sure we are grasping the material. Volker Doetsch is one of our favorite professors at UCSF.

New faces

Debra Harris, MSO for the Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry

Debra Harris was recently appointed management services officer (MSO) for the department of pharmaceutical chemistry. Debra’s last position, which she held for almost 16 years, was administrative director for the UCSF/UCB Bioengineering Graduate Group. The department is fortunate that, after working with her through the bioengineering faculty, Tom James, department chair, was able to entice her away from her beloved students. Debra had prior involvement with the pharmacy faculty in one of her first positions at UCSF as assistant director of development, where she helped the School of Pharmacy launch its annual giving campaign. Debra is well connected at UCSF with a total of 22 years of service!

Frank Farm, Web Manager

Frank Farm accepted the new position of web and data services manager for the Office of Student and Curricular Affairs (OSACA) last July. He is responsible for the portion of the Web under the purview of the dean—as well as all OSACA Web content and programming. He came to us after working seven years for Adobe Systems, Inc. where he worked his way up from answering phones for technical support to designing databases, building Web pages, and managing libraries and Web sites for Adobe’s Customer Support team.

Frank’s expertise is very visible at the upgraded School of Pharmacy Web site. He provides information that is accurate, easily found, timely, properly edited, logically structured, and accessible to people with impairments and disabilities. “Our Web needs present a formidable challenge, but the School has many excellent resources available to enable us to realize our goals,” he said.

Joel W. Gonzales, Student Affairs Coordinator

Joel W. Gonzales comes to us from the University of San Francisco where he was the student activities advisor for six years. As student affairs coordinator, Joel provides career-related services (placement interviews, job postings, workshops, etc.) for students. He also coordinates events for the SOP (orientation, commencement, white coat ceremony, etc.) and coordinates outreach and recruitment programs.

When asked why he decided to move to UCSF School of Pharmacy, Joel said, “I wanted to work in a different environment, with a much more focused and professional student body—but I still wanted to work with students! This new environment encourages a team approach to delivering services and programs, which is fun and exciting.”

An interview with Joel was published in the February issue of the student paper, Therapeutic Window.


  • Irwin (Tack) Kuntz, Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, will be presented with the Computers in Chemistry and Pharmaceutical Chemistry Award by the American Chemical Society (ACS) at their national meeting in April. Tack is being recognized for his computational technique known as docking. Twenty years ago, when computer power was still relatively weak, Tack developed the first docking program called DOCK. The algorithm scanned the shape of a ligand in a molecule, assessing how well it would fit into a receptor, like a key fits into a lock. Not surprisingly, the popularity of docking programs is beginning to mirror that of combinatorial chemistry and docking has evolved to become a full-fledged sub-discipline of computational chemistry. “I think it is probably fair to say that DOCK is the algorithm that was pivotal in starting the revolution in computational structure-based drug design,” says one colleague.
  • Mary Anne Koda-Kimble, dean, received the American Pharmaceutical Association’s (APhA) Daniel B. Smith Practice Excellence Award. This award was established to recognize outstanding performance and achievements of a community practitioner who has distinguished himself or herself in the profession of pharmacy in the recipient’s community and professional practice setting. One of her nominators said, “Our profession is blessed with outstanding leaders in all its sectors…It is rare that one individual distinguishes herself as a leader in the practitioner, educator, and administrator segment.”
  • Steve Kayser and Don Kishi, Department of Clinical Pharmacy, were appointed to the faculty of Tokyo University of Pharmacy and Life Sciences (TUPLS). They have worked with the University over the years to establish a clinical pharmacy program. Each year, a UCSF pharmacy faculty member travels to Japan for several months to teach, and approximately 20 Japanese students are hosted by the Department of Clinical Pharmacy in San Francisco.
  • Lori Reisner, Department of Clinical Pharmacy, was recently elected to the Board of Directors of the American Pain Society for 2002–2003.
  • Robert Ignoffo, Department of Clinical Pharmacy, was elected secretary and member of the Secretariat of the International Society of Oncology Pharmacists.
  • Deanna Kroetz, Department of Biopharmaceutical Sciences, was selected to receive the Leon Goldberg Young Investigator Award from the American Society for Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics at their annual meeting in Atlanta in March.
  • Debbie Anderson, Class of 2002, was awarded the California Pharmacist Association’s 2002 Student of the Year Award. She received the award at their at annual meeting in February.
  • Pamela Dumpit, Class of 2003, won the California Patient Counseling Competition. She along with the other three student representatives from USC, UOP, and Western University will represent each of the four California Schools of Pharmacy at the national APhA Annual meeting in Philadelphia in March.
  • Kathryn Phillips, Department of Clinical Pharmacy, presented a seminar at the National Cancer Institute in Washington, DC, in February called Understanding the Impact of “Revolutions”: The Impact of the Managed Care Revolution on Cancer Screening and a Discussion of Future “Revolutions” Impacting Cancer Screening & Treatment. Kathryn has been funded through two collaborative proposals with McMaster University (Canada) to examine patient preferences for methods of screening for colorectal cancer. In January, Kathryn gave a virtual seminar at the University of Washington on The Role of Pharmacogenomics in Reducing ADRs and Discussion of the Clinical, Economic, and Policy Implications of Pharmacogenomics. (It had to be virtual because she got stuck at SFO when they had to evacuate the terminal.)
  • Francesca Aweeka, Department of Clinical Pharmacy, received a $21,000 grant from Social and Scientific Systems for her project called Quality Assurance​/​Quality Control.

Conflict of interest for authors

Lisa Bero, Department of Clinical Pharmacy, was quoted in the February 8 issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education. The in-depth article Conflicts of Interest: Between the Lines expressed the concern being felt among scientists and bioethicists that failure to disclose ties to industry by authors is unethical and misleading.

In the past decade, as contentions between academic researchers and industry have become the norm, new conflicts of interest have grown. Supporting those worries, bioethicists and scientists who survey scientific journals note an unmistakable trend between industrial sponsorship and pro-industry conclusions from experiments.

For example, in a 1998 analysis of 15 years of review papers on secondhand smoke, Deborah E. Barnes and Lisa A. Bero, of the University of California at Berkeley and San Francisco, respectively, found that 94 percent of authors with some connection to the tobacco industry concluded that passive smoking was not harmful, whereas only 13 percent of authors without a link to the industry came to the same conclusion.

Corporate ties have received even more criticism when once-confidential documents showed that tobacco companies helped get tobacco-friendly scientists onto journal editorial boards and financed bogus conferences and studies that never received peer-review.

Many scientists, ethicists, and editors say that a partial solution is to make readers aware of scientists’ ties to industry. “When it comes out later, it destroys your credibility.” says Drummond Rennie, a deputy editor of The Journal of the American Medical Association and a professor of medicine at UC San Francisco. “If a prospective author reveals financial ties in a paper,” he said, “I respect that, I allow a little bit for it, but I don’t think of it as being dishonest. Whereas, if I find out later, I think he was hiding something.”

Members of The Chronicle of Higher Education can access the complete article at chronicle.com.

Upcoming events

Clinical Pharmacy Spring Research Seminar

The 4th Annual Spring Research Seminar will be held Monday, April 22 from 12 to 3 PM at the Millberry Union Conference Center. Faculty, staff, fellows, and residents will present their current research efforts or encore performances of past posters presented at major scientific meetings. Faculty members from other departments and schools, as well as all pharmacy students, are invited to attend. Refreshments will be served.

Class reunions—reintroduced!

The UCSF Pharmacy Alumni Association is re-introducing class reunions to take place around the School of Pharmacy Homecoming in the fall. We encourage the classes of ’52, ’57, ’62, ’67, ’72, ’77, ’82, ’87, ’92, and ’97 to begin planning now. Whether you choose a Friday night reception or dinner, an activity on Sunday, or a get-together on Homecoming Day, please contact Antoinette Porter, UCSF Pharmacy Alumni Association, 415-502-5274, who can help with ideas and suggestions.

The Alumni Association apologizes to those class reunions whose plans were canceled along with Homecoming 2001 and invite and encourage you to get together this year (’51, ’56, ’61, ’66, ’71, ’76, ’81, ’86, ’91, ’96).

Pharmacy fact

What do the following acronyms used in the School stand for?

Biological and Medical Informatics PhD graduate program
Department of Biopharmaceutical Sciences
Basic Science Instruction Center
Chemistry and Chemical Biology PhD graduate program
Department of Clinical Pharmacy
Educational Policy Committee
Thomas A. Oliver Informatics Resource Center
Office of Student and Curricular Affairs
over-the-counter, non-prescription drugs
Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry
Doctor of Pharmacy (degree)
Pharmacogenetics of Membrane Transporters (project)
Pharmaceutical Economics and Policy Studies
Pharmaceutical Sciences and Pharmacogenomics PhD graduate program
California Institute for Bioengineering, Biotechnology and Quantitative Biomedical Research
faculty members without salary (volunteer)


School of Pharmacy, Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, Department of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences, Department of Clinical Pharmacy, PharmD Degree Program, Dean's Office

About the School: The UCSF School of Pharmacy aims to solve the most pressing health care problems and strives to ensure that each patient receives the safest, most effective treatments. Our discoveries seed the development of novel therapies, and our researchers consistently lead the nation in NIH funding. The School’s doctor of pharmacy (PharmD) degree program, with its unique emphasis on scientific thinking, prepares students to be critical thinkers and leaders in their field.