About Leslie Wilson, and more news

Who is Leslie Wilson?

Leslie Wilson specializes in health economics and health policy and is an associate adjunct professor in the Department of Clinical Pharmacy. She received her Masters in Medical Surgical and Psychiatric Nursing at University of Massachusetts and a PhD in Health Economics from the University of Maryland. Prior to joining the UCSF faculty, she was head nurse at Johns Hopkins Hospital and Yale University Medical Center and an adjunct faculty member at Yale University. She then became director of Health Policy and Economics for Bayer AG in Leverkusen, Germany and at Miles/Bayer Inc. in West Haven, Connecticut.

Leslie’s research focuses on economics and epidemiology—looking at the cost burden of illness and its treatments and the cost-effectiveness and outcomes of new technologies, genetic tests and medical practice. She conducts economic studies on both rare diseases such as scleroderma to emphasize the high cost burden despite low prevalences, and on chronic diseases such as COPD, Parkinson’s disease and HIV, to demonstrate what areas of cost are important. The cost-effectiveness studies mainly focus on weighing the costs and benefits of new testing and treatment scenarios, for example how best to select and genetically test for hereditary colorectal cancer, or how best to test and treat for malignant melanoma.

Leslie also concentrates on looking at public policy issues, such as her recent health assessment of inner city youths in San Francisco Boys and Girls Clubs and a study of the extent of cultural competency teaching in California medical and dental schools. She is a faculty member at the Osher Center at UCSF, looking at economic issues there. She is also beginning to look at the economics of parasitic disease treatment in third world countries.

In 1994, Leslie became the first health policy specialist hired by the Department of Clinical Pharmacy, under Chair Mary Anne Koda-Kimble. She was instrumental in bringing health economics into the current and new pharmacy curriculum and teaches an elective and independent study on research in health economics, as well as a required pathway course on decision analysis. Leslie is the developer and co-director of the Program for Pharmaceutical Outcomes, Economic and Policy Studies (PrO-PEPS) whose purpose is to organize the development of collaborative economics and outcomes research, teaching and funding within clinical pharmacy.

Why did you decide to leave private industry and join UCSF?

I moved from teaching into private industry; then back to the university again, because I found that there is more value in research collaborations between industry and the university than in each pursuing their own interests in isolation. However, it is also important to keep the interests and incentives of each organization in mind in these collaborations. I’ve found that experience in industry helps make clinical research more policy oriented.

How are the health policy programs going?

I’ve seen a great deal of growth in economics and policy research and teaching since I’ve been at UCSF. One of the clinical pathways focuses on health policy, management and economics, for example. The department has a nice cadre of faculty members all working in some type of health services research, and that increases the productivity of all of us. Students, too, are learning the basics of epidemiology, health policy, research design and statistics, entrepreneurial management, economics and decision analysis and using these to conduct a year-long research project in this area. These students are also pursuing jobs, fellowships, and residencies that use these new skills and expertise. We are seeing a lot of exciting research coming from the students in this pathway, some of it published. I think our department of clinical pharmacy is increasingly being seen as a contributor to this field, as evidenced by the posters seen at the annual department research colloquium.

Tell us a little about yourself.

I’m married with two children going to school on the East Coast, one in college and one in an MD PhD program. When I have time, I like to windsurf, ski and bike. More consistently, I enjoy doing mundane things like gardening, jogging and traveling. Now that the kids are off, it is so nice to have more time for myself—when I don’t spend it working, that is.

School team explores future with Asia

by Susan Levings, Dean’s Office

group at the Great Wall of China

Susan Levings, Mary Anne Koda-Kimble, Lloyd Young, and Steve Kayser take a group photo at the Great Wall of China.


Exploring the potential for partnerships in China. This was the goal of a February 8–22, 2003 trip to China undertaken by Mary Anne Koda-Kimble, dean; Lloyd Young, chair of clinical pharmacy; Steve Kayser, vice chair for international relations; and me, Susan Levings, associate dean for planning and communications.


Young students sit at their desks in a rural elementary school outside Beijing.

Explore we did, and in the process we validated much of what we had learned in advance about the cascade effect of China’s entry into the World Trade Organization on drug discovery, pharmaceutical industry standards, traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), the business of retail pharmacy, the practice of pharmacy and more. What we did not expect was how the constellation of economic and social change is affecting pharmacy education in China. Whether we were meeting with the dean and faculties of Fudan University in Shanghai, Beijing University (China’s Harvard), Tsinghua University (the MIT of China) in Beijing, or seasoned pharmacists at Peking Union Medical College Hospital, collaboration with UCSF was clearly a goal.

As we learned, China’s central government is directing the nation’s top pharmacy schools to transform their professional curricula from those now focused on administration and dispensing to the more Western model focused on clinical training. Paramount to the government as well is the support and market expansion of traditional Chinese medicine.

What better pharmacy school with which to seek partnerships in clinical pharmacy than ours, where clinical pharmacy first emerged. We were met with proposals and possibilities from our Chinese colleagues on:

  • the sharing of curricula, course descriptions
  • faculty member exchanges
  • drug information
  • genomics/pharmacogenomic
  • traditional Chinese medicine

While we learned that collaborations are under way with other schools in the US, it was difficult to determine their strength and depth.

What we might do, how we might do it and who might spearhead any China-SOP collaborations is being discussed and considered by Mary Anne, Lloyd, Steve and others in the School. Clearly, whatever relationships might emerge must benefit our School both financially and programmatically.

The success of our journey to China was due largely to the exceptional friendship, resolve, and connections of Vicki Au, a pharmacist and member of the School’s Board of Advisors. Vicki, who lives in both Shanghai and Hong Kong, joined us in China. Because of her planning, linguistic acumen in Cantonese and Mandarin, sensitivity to underlying cultural and political nuances and ability to bridge Chinese and U.S customs, our trip was a true success. We have much, much more to learn to fit together all of the pieces, and we are doing that as you read.

We also visited Hong Kong and Moses Chow, our alum who is now dean of the Chinese University of Hong Kong. He was truly thrilled to host his two teachers—Mary Anne and Steve—Lloyd, Vicki and I for a morning meeting and luncheon with his faculty. While in Hong Kong we also met with pharmacy directors from the Hospital Authority, the entity that administers all hospital services in Hong Kong. One of our alums, Shirley Lau, works for the Authority and was instrumental in arranging our visit. Mary Anne gave a dinner lecture on self-medication to 40 spirited and influential young Hong Kong CEOs and their spouses. We were the dinner guests of gracious and long-time friends of UCSF who reside in Hong Kong, and we spent a morning with the director and staff of an impressive and dedicated traditional Chinese medicine company. Possibilities for working with Hong Kong contacts emerged as well.


Professors from TUPLS at dinner in Hachioji, Japan, hosted by UCSF: Toshio Miyazaki, PhD, a director and professor emeritus; Yasuji Kasuya, PhD; and Kitaro Oka, PhD.

Our journey, however, did not begin in China, but rather in Tokyo at the Tokyo University of Pharmacy and Life Science (TUPLS). The department of clinical pharmacy and TUPLS have worked together since 1994 with a goal of promoting collaborative teaching and research. Clinical pharmacy annually hosts faculty members and graduate students from TUPLS and provides seminars and practice experiences in the area of pharmaceutical care. Each year, a faculty member from our School participates in teaching seminars targeted at university-based, as well as practicing pharmacists affiliated with TUPLS. The purpose of the February stop at TUPLS was to review and approve the affiliation agreement for next year.


Steve was a faculty-in-residence at TUPLS for a year. With his mastery of the subway and eateries and his good grip on the language, our very short stay proved exceptional. One of our Tokyo days was a national holiday, which we spent with Paul Wong, an alum working in the city. We shared the evening with alum Yoshi Mizuno and his family for a tour of his state-of-the-art pharmacy and a wonderful at-home dinner. Before flying to Hong Kong, Mary Anne and I were hosted at Ajinomoto Company headquarters, courtesy of a professional colleague of Tom James, while Lloyd and Steve met with the head of the Japan Pharmacists Education Center.

We were able to tuck in a bit of time in Asia for sightseeing: shrines and sophisticated shopping spots in Tokyo and the back streets of Hong Kong. In China, we saw the Great Wall, Forbidden City, and The Place of Heaven. And my favorites—we were privileged to visit the back alleys of Old Shanghai, a grammar school in the country and a farmer at his home. The professional visits were stimulating. The unique personal experiences were precious and never to be forgotten.

Visiting Mission Bay

Mission Bay lab space

Although some faculty and staff members were a little apprehensive about the move, they are now pleased with their new space and the opportunities for interaction in Genentech Hall, the first of many UCSF Mission Bay buildings.

Getting to and from Mission Bay is easy. Shuttles run twice an hour, leaving Parnassus from the Langley Porter stop and returning with a stop at the ACC building and the library.

When you arrive at the Mission Bay shuttle stop, it looks and feels like the construction site that it is, with a chain-link fence bordering a walkway meandering through the muddy field. Once at the building, you are faced with a monumental staircase. It’s great to look at, but a lot easier to just go into the ground-floor door on the left. When you enter the building, the elevators are on the left and a security desk to the right. Everyone needs to sign in at the security desk before going any further.

The building has an open design, built along a spine that is meant to encourage people to see, know and work with each other. The four corners of each floor house a pod of offices and labs with an interactive space in the center of the pod. “Traditionally,” said Keith Yamamoto, vice dean for research, School of Medicine, “scientists work in their own labs, on their own projects. As people look for more solutions to real-life medical and science issues, there is more of a need to work together. We find we’re now at the stage where, if we can pull together these hyper-specialized scientists, we can tackle challenges as never before.”

The only downside to being the first ones on the Mission Bay campus is that it will be awhile before the rest of the campus is developed. For those used to the plethora of restaurants and stores in the Parnassus area, pickings are mighty slim. Breakfast, lunch and desserts are available on the second floor of Genentech Hall by a local vendor. A cafeteria is due to open in April and a bookstore has opened on the first floor. That’s it. The rest is sun, mud and beautiful views. Everyone we talked to feels that the extraordinary space more than makes up for any current lack of amenities.

Pharmaceutical chemistry has moved into three of the four pods on the 5th floor. The pharmaceutical chemistry administrative offices are in 518, straight ahead and to the right as you get off the elevator. Investigators from pharmaceutical chemistry and biopharmaceutical sciences are also in one pod on the 4th floor. Principal investigators are located as follows:




5th floor, A pod (north)

C.C. Wang, Paul Ortiz de Montellano, Kip Guy

Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry

5th floor, B pod (north)

Pam England, Tom Scanlan

Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry

5th floor, F pod (south)

Tom James, Charlie Craik, Sue Miller, Volker Doetsch

Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry

5th floor, room 522

Chris Olson

Graduate Program in Chemistry and Chemical Biology

5th floor, room 524

Barbara Paschke

Graduate Program in Biomedical Informatics

4th floor, A pod (north)

Tack Kuntz, Matthew Jacobson, Tom Ferrin, Ken Dill, Fred Cohen, Brian Shoichet

Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry

Patricia Babbitt, Andrej Sali

Department of Biopharmaceutical Sciences

We are unable to list all the people who have moved to Genentech Hall, but the UC Directory has already been updated with their current locations, phone and box numbers. Check the Mission Bay website for additional information.

White Coat Ceremony: a family affair

Kishi and Tran

Don Kishi helps student Mimosa Tran don her white coat.

The White Coat Ceremony was started two years ago as a symbol for incoming students. At the initiation of the third-year students, a White Coat Ceremony was held in Cole Hall on March 7 to mark their passage from didactic learning to clinical experience, since the ceremony was not in place when they began their studies at UCSF.

The ceremony was a joyous experience with the participation of faculty members, family, and friends. Many carried bouquets (and a few toddlers). Jennifer Namba, president, Class of 2004, welcomed the audience. Several speeches were made, each emphasizing, “taking the time to care.” Mary Anne Koda-Kimble’s speech left a lasting impression and very good advice, ending with “Welcome—and revel in the endorphins that come from making a difference in the lives and health of people.”

students taking the oath

PharmD students Stan Hill, Aaron Huang, and Hanh Tran dressed in white coats take the Oath of a Pharmacist.

Students and the audience also heard from Robert Miller, vice president, UCSF Pharmacy Alumni Association, Lloyd Young, chair, Department of Clinical Pharmacy, and Christopher Cullander, associate dean, Dean’s Office, Office of Student and Curricular Affairs. Bob Day, associate dean, led the students in the Oath of a Pharmacist. The class was delighted to receive their white coats from faculty members and mentors who had been there for them throughout the last three years. At the end of the ceremony, Cindy Watchmaker, director, Dean’s Office, Office of Student and Curricular Affairs and Chris Cullander received a standing ovation from their students.

HIV/AIDS education in Malawi, Africa


Sharon Youmans

by Sharon Youmans, Department of Clinical Pharmacy

Last fall I visited Malawi, a country in southeast Africa located in the sub Sahara region. I attended a 3-day conference for religious leaders/workers in Lilongwe, Malawi that was sponsored by Global Aids Interfaith Alliance (GAIA).

Educators at the conference provided basic information concerning the impact of HIV/AIDS in the country as well as basic epidemiological information regarding rates of infections and modes of transmission. I gave a lecture on the basic “How you can contract HIV and how you cannot.” As a result of the information gathered at this conference, the attendees will develop HIV/AIDS education programs designed specifically for their individual community needs. The GAIA group spent a week in the area and visited hospitals, clinics, community organizations and families in villages who have been affected by this epidemic.

The trip to Malawi was my first to an African country. The experience itself for me was life altering and one I shall never forget. I was most impressed by the resourcefulness and motivation of the Malawians in their efforts to address this epidemic in their communities. Despite the sickness, poverty and famine, community leaders and volunteers have already implemented creative programs in an effort to educate people about HIV/AIDS. It was important and enlightening for me to see first hand how the Malawians are dealing with the epidemic and to hear from them directly what resources they needed to carry out their programs. I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to serve in this capacity and will continue to do so until the need no longer exists.

I am a recent board member of GAIA; a San Francisco based non-profit organization. GAIA was founded in June 2000 with the idea of using African religious networks as a way to distribute anti-retroviral drugs to block mother-to-child transmission of HIV. The original vision of prevention of mother-to-child transmission has expanded to include HIV prevention and care on several fronts as they have worked with African partners in developing the program. The founder, president and chief executive officer of GAIA is the Very Reverend William Rankin, PhD, MPP. The Board of Directors of GAIA is chaired by Charles B. Wilson, MD, DSc, MSHA, former chair of the Department of Neurosurgery at the University of California, San Francisco.

Employees of the Month

The School of Pharmacy recognizes exceptional employees in each department with Employee of the Month awards. The letters are written by the manager of each department:

  • Department of Clinical Pharmacy: Deborah Petrie
  • Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry: Debra Harris
  • Department of Biopharmaceutical Sciences: Paulette Powell

Department of Clinical Pharmacy

September: Jose Rodriguez

Mike Winter nominated you and the nomination was enthusiastically endorsed by Joanne Whitney for your consistently pleasant attitude, your always ready smile and your help whenever it is needed. Thanks for being a super employee.

October: Erika Campbell

Lisa Bero nominated you for your hard work, and said, “Erika graduated from San Francisco State last summer, but still finds time to continue her studies. She does all this with great humor and a constant smile. Erika deserves special recognition this month for helping our group settle into the new Tobacco Center. She also loves candy, so feel free to visit her at the Center and leave some goodies!”

November: Patty Lizak

Fran Aweeka indicated to me that you were invaluable in helping to keep the laboratory on track during the month of November, including assisting with the grant applications, the accounts and continuing in your role as manager of the AACTG grant. All this in the midst of changing personnel and vacationing laboratory workers! You are a credit to the department.

Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry

September: Andrea Bennett

You have been selected for your conscientious effort in handling many aspects of the pharmaceutical chemistry administration. You have been a delight to work with. You hold yourself to a high standard as the chair’s assistant, juggling many balls, and forever multi-tasking with a smile. Tom and I repeatedly appreciate your effort to make every deadline and to cover the office needs. I feel so thankful for your positive daily attitude.

Department of Biopharmaceutical Sciences

December: Lisa Magargal

Lisa Magargal organized the Pharmaceutical Sciences Pharmacogenomics graduate program retreat in November. The retreat was organized in an outstanding fashion, functioning smoothly and flawlessly to create an exciting environment for the students to bond among themselves and to learn more about the associated faculty. On returning from the retreat, Lisa implemented a number of suggestions concerning the organization, requirements and communications within the program.


  • Martin Luther King, Jr. Awards: Two members of our pharmacy community were honored at a ceremony held during the Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemoration Week at UCSF in January.
    • Jorge Garcia-Sarzosa, winner in the award’s staff category, started the School of Pharmacy’s elective course Spanish for Pharmacists last year.
    • Leticia Melgoza-Webb, the student award winner, organized hands-on activities for under-represented students in the Health Science Enrichment Program, participated in numerous health fairs and events in San Francisco neighborhoods and served as a member of the Chancellor’s Committee on Diversity.
  • Alenka Luzar, Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, was recently recognized by the American Institute of Physics (APS) with publication of The Secret Nature of Hydrophobic Interaction: from Static to Kinetic, a paper based on Alenka’s research with Kevin Leung, Sandia National Laboratory in New Mexico and Dusan Bratko, UCB in the February 16th Physical Review Letters. This is considered to be the most prestigious publication for physics and biophysical sciences. The work at UCSF was supported by a grant to Alenka from the National Science Foundation. Alenka hopes that a new combination of techniques can be used to uncover alternative ways to understand the kinetics of early events in protein folding, as well as the influence of interfacial water in cell biology. “Our work is important for understanding hydrophobic forces in nature where multiple length scales are present. These interactions are believed to be the most fundamental and universal of forces controlling biological assembly,” says Alenka. “The simulations have obtained new insights in the process by which two nonpolar solutes come into contact in water: they provide dynamic information that goes beyond static pictures of conventional structural biology, and imply that hydrophobic interaction can be under kinetic, rather than, thermodynamic control.”
  • Ken Dill, Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, gave three lectures in the Distinguished Visitor Lecture Series in the Physics Department at the University of Alberta in January. Ken found the weather, at more than 30 degrees below zero, a little colder than he is used to.
  • Kathryn Phillips, Department of Clinical Pharmacy, was nominated to serve a four-year term on a standing NIH Study Section: Social sciences, nursing, epidemiology and methods 4 (SNEM4). Katherine was also asked to give the following talks: Cost-Effectiveness of Pharmacogenomics, Plenary Talk, International Society for the Study of Xenobiotics, Dijon, France, May 1, 2003, Genetics: Risks and Benefits? Lecture to State Senate Select Committee on Genetics, Genetic Technologies, and Public Policy, Sacramento, March 4, 2003 and The Impact of Genomic Medicine on Health Care Delivery and Costs, University of Washington and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, February 2, 2003.
  • Ron Ruggiero, Department of Clinical Pharmacy, will have his traditional self-care booth for hormonal counseling (contraception and menopause) at the 10th Annual UCSF Women’s Health 2020 Conference on Saturday, March 22nd in San Francisco.
  • Jo Dyer (PI), Ilene Anderson, Susan Kim, Department of Clinical Pharmacy, California Poison Control System-San Francisco Division and Paul Blanc, Neal Benowitz, Judith Barker and Christine Haller (UCSF Departments of Medicine and Anthropology) received a $4,359,926 grant for 5 years from the National Institute of Drug Abuse to study GHB abuse. These investigators also plan to collaborate with investigators at California Poison Control System’s three other divisions located in San Diego, Sacramento and Fresno/Madera on this multidisciplinary study, GHB Abuse: Motivations, Medical Consequences, and Risk Factors.
  • Davide Verotta, Department of Biopharmaceutical Sciences, was awarded a five year (2002–2007), $900,000 grant titled Modeling Complex Pharmacokinetics and Pharmacodynamics by the NIH. “The main purpose of the grant is the investigation of experimental designs and the development of models which allow the incorporation of prior scientific knowledge and the integration of diverse pharmacological effects into a coherent picture of drug action,” said Davide.
  • Barbara Sauer, Department of Clinical Pharmacy, was recently elected Secretary of the Council of Faculties of The American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP).
  • Candy Tsourounis, Department of Clinical Pharmacy, was elected Member-Elect for the Board of Directors of the California Society of Health System Pharmacists (CSHP).

Pharmacy fact

How long has aspirin been on the market?

The pain relieving effects of what we know today as aspirin are documented as far back as the fifth century B.C. when Hippocrates referred to a bitter substance from willow bark that could help alleviate aches and pains and fever. As it was eventually discovered, willow bark contains a bitter substance called salicin, which the body converts to salicylic acid. Today’s aspirin—acetylsalicylic acid—is a chemical relative of Hippocrates’ ancient willow bark extract.


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.