Update from the Dean - July 2003

Dear UCSF School of Pharmacy Family and Friends:

I hope this Update finds you well and looking forward to a bit of rest and relaxation this summer. It has been a trying time for all of us on many fronts—the economy, the war, the continuing saga of rising health care costs and access. When facing so many issues at once, I find it especially important to accelerate our planning. And that is just what we are doing here at the School. I am focusing a great deal of this letter on our current thinking, with the hope that you will not hesitate to share your thoughts and ideas with me during the summer.

Next Steps in Planning

First, a bit of context. As you know, I initiated a comprehensive Schoolwide strategic planning process in 1998 with the goal of setting a far-reaching agenda for the School. The plan, "Unleashing Our Potential" identified 5 major challenges—all to improve health through the appropriate use of medicines. Our plan remains viable. We have accomplished most of our goals, and others are within reach. Some environmental shifts, however, have been so profound that some goals are no longer applicable. Thus, it is time to revisit our situation and plan boldly.

As the campus, medical center, and other schools begin to develop their own strategic plans, it will be important for us to articulate priorities that are congruent with those of the campus and to take the lead in several areas, such as we have done in pharmacogenomics. Several recent events will surely affect our thinking.

Mission Bay

The first is the move of one-half of our science faculty to Mission Bay. Our clinical faculty members have been dispersed throughout the state for many years, but with the relocation of some of our scientists to Mission Bay, we are beginning to discover what it means for this group to be separated physically from our PharmD students and to be intellectually intermingled with faculty members from other schools.

We must consider restructuring our organization in ways that facilitate exceptional teaching in both our professional and graduate programs. Furthermore, we must carefully deliberate the future direction of our profession and science so that we can sharply focus our recruitment of new faculty members.

Budget Deficit

The second is California's budget deficit. Clearly, the assigned cuts to the University's budget do not bode well for relief from the state or the University in the foreseeable future. California's budget situation has created a new reality for the School. To achieve greater fiscal stability and flexibility, we must develop a business approach to some of our activities that have revenue-generating potential. Here are just two ideas we might pursue while holding true to our mission:

  • Develop and market unique seminars and conferences that target audiences in business and industry at market prices.
  • Actively pursue academic consultancy agreements internationally—especially within Asia. Many of you know that a contingency from the School traveled to China in February 2003 to explore academic partnerships, which we hope will be as intellectually fruitful as the partnership we already have established in Japan with Tokyo University of Pharmacy and Life Science.

Input and Advice

With all that said, I share with you some input and advice we have gathered so far as we plan for the future.

In my last Update you read about the ongoing surveys we conduct of our graduates and alumni to continually assess our curriculum and help us plan for change. That information will be key to our planning. As I travel throughout the state and country, I am receiving more specific advice from graduates, whose career paths have taken them outside traditional roles.

Through a series of roundtable discussions with PharmDs and PhDs, I am learning how we can better prepare our graduates for leadership roles in a broad array of career opportunities.

We also have received initial and valuable business input from our Board of Advisors. This is a key group of 20 leaders in business, industry, and health care whose counsel I seek to keep us apprised of the relevant issues percolating outside the world of academia. They are—to a person—insightful, dedicated, and not shy about sharing their honest advice and opinions. I treasure their wisdom.

So where will we go from here? The School's leadership group and faculty council will identify key strategic questions, which we will pose to faculty subcommittees this summer. This work will culminate in a full faculty strategic planning retreat in January 2004. And by late spring or early summer we should finalize a fresh plan for the School. Now, on to some other news.

Tack Kuntz Receives the Volwiler Award

The American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP) has named Irwin (Tack) D. Kuntz, PhD, professor of pharmaceutical chemistry, the 2003 Volwiler Research Achievement Award recipient. This is AACP's most prestigious research award. Tack is an internationally recognized scientist known for his seminal work in computational approaches to drug design, protein structure, and macromolecule-ligand interactions. He was the first to develop a computer-based molecular docking software program, called DOCK, that calculates and displays in 3 dimensions how potential drugs might attach to target molecules. The DOCK algorithm is widely used by researchers in academia, pharmaceutical firms, and the biotechnology industry.


While still receiving national acclaim, Tack Kuntz, PhD is retiring from full-time work on our faculty. He has set high standards for research in the School and effectively represented the School's research agenda on campus. As associate dean for research when I first became dean, Tack spent much time mentoring me in science so that I could best represent the interests of our science to donors and decision makers. Tack has been an exceptional and beloved teacher and mentor to many.

Joining Tack in retirement is Gary McCart, PharmD and professor of clinical pharmacy. Gary was one of the early pioneers who helped shape clinical pharmacy practice at UCSF and the nation. His teaching contributions, especially in the areas of ethics and drug information, have been outstanding. For a number of years, Gary directed our Drug Information Analysis Service, which responds to telephone drug information questions regarding patient-specific drug therapy or related problems. For the last 2 years, Gary has been a research subject advocate in the General Clinical Research Center on campus.

Leaving us as well is Ron Ruggiero, PharmD, clinical professor and expert in women's health. Ron has specialized in the pharmacotherapies of women for the past 28 years and has actively co-managed patients with physicians and nurse practitioners at the UCSF National Center of Excellence (COE) in Women's Health.

Finally, the "greatest anatomy professor in the whole wide world," Sexton Sutherland, PhD, adjunct professor of anatomy in the School of Medicine, is also bidding UCSF adieu. How many teaching awards can one faculty member receive? When it comes to Sexton, there are no limits. Our student pharmacists continually applaud his expertise, enthusiasm, and humanity in the teaching of human anatomy. I echo that applause for all of the faculty members I mention here.

We will miss Sexton, Ron, Gary, and Tack, but wish them great adventures in the next phase of their lives.

Moves and Space (Or is it true that our students will be moving out of the basement?)

As I have already noted, about one-half of our scientists, their staffs, postdocs and grad students are now settled in at the new UCSF Genentech Hall building at Mission Bay. It is a fabulous space designed to encourage cross-fertilization of ideas, and I encourage you take a virtual tour at UCSF Mission Bay. The decompression on Parnassus is allowing us to begin consolidating School space on the 8th, 9th, and 11th floors of the Medical Sciences building and the 11th floor of Health Sciences East. Our purpose is to incubate creativity and dialogue among faculty members in all 3 of our departments. Importantly, we will move our small student space and the Office of Student and Curricular Affairs out of the basement to a larger, brighter space on the 9th floor of the Medical Sciences building. This puts the students next to faculty offices and just down the hall from the Thomas A. Oliver Informatics Resource Center. Many of you remember the days when student affairs was on the 9th floor before it was moved to "temporary" space in the basement in the 1980's.

Transitions in the School of Medicine

Chancellor Michael Bishop has named David Kessler, MD as the new dean of our School of Medicine. He will join us in September 2003. Many of us in the pharmacy world will best remember David as the former FDA commissioner under the Bush and Clinton administrations who addressed head-on the addictive qualities of nicotine. For the past five years, David—professor of pediatrics, internal medicine, and public health—has served as dean of the medical school at Yale University. There, he led the completion of a new building designed to enhance research and teaching. I look forward to working with David and continuing my relationship with my valued friend and current dean, Haile Debas, MD, who will be leading on campus a new interdisciplinary Program in Population Sciences & Global Health.

Gift from Harry and Diana Hind

I have saved our most exciting School news for last. In April, Mr. and Mrs. Harry W. Hind set a philanthropic precedent for the School by fully funding our first endowed distinguished professorship with a gift of $2.65 million. The Harry W. and Diana V. Hind Distinguished Professorship in Pharmaceutical Sciences will be used to recruit a pharmaceutical scientist known for his or her entrepreneurial spirit, heightened intellectual curiosity, and collaborative approach to discovery and application. Harry, who is one of our most illustrious alums, developed the Lidoderm® patch, the only product approved by the FDA to treat postherpetic neuralgia. However, Harry is best known for his ophthalmologic product innovations. He is the inventor of wetting solutions, which brought contact lenses into widespread use. And Barnes-Hind, a company he established in 1939, produced and sold another Hind invention: non-stinging medicated eye drops that were buffered to the pH of the eye. Diana, a talented artist, has been actively involved in many of Harry's business ventures. I am deeply thankful to Harry and Diana for their extraordinary gift. Their generosity will undoubtedly catapult this School into its next future.

With this wonderful news, I end this Update. With warm regards until I am in touch with you again.

Yours sincerely,


Mary Anne Koda-Kimble, PharmD
Professor and Dean
Thomas J. Long Chair in Community Pharmacy Practice

P.S.: I look forward to seeing many of you at this year's Homecoming on November 1st, especially those of you who are eligible for our newly formed Half Century Club!


School of Pharmacy, Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, Department of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences, Department of Clinical Pharmacy, PharmD Degree Program, CCB, PSPG, Bioinformatics, Biophysics, BMI

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.