About Maya Leabman, and more news

Who is Maya Leabman?

Maya Leabman is a postdoctoral fellow who is both developing a pharmacogenetics consortium between the School and industry and conducting her own research in pharmacogenetics. She works with Kathy Giacomini, chair, Department of Biopharmaceutical Sciences.

How did you decide to become involved with pharmacy research and pharmacogenetics in particular?

I received a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering with a minor in biology from MIT in Boston. During my third year, I became more interested in my laboratory and biology classes than in my chemical engineering classes. Consequently, I began to focus on the applications of chemical engineering to the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries. This is when I became interested in the pharmaceutical sciences. In 1997, I joined this School’s graduate program in pharmaceutical chemistry.

During my final rotation, I worked in Kathy Giacomini’s lab where I learned about membrane transporters and their roles in drug disposition. At that time, Kathy was just beginning to conduct pharmacogenetics research—uncovering the genetic basis for inter-individual variation in drug response. I became immediately fascinated. My first project with Kathy was one in which I characterized the function of a genetic variant of a transporter involved in hepatic drug elimination. My dissertation research continued in pharmacogenetics as I examined variation in membrane transporter genes and the effects of this variation on drug response.

What are you working on now?

I am helping develop a consortium between the Department of Biopharmaceutical Sciences and local pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries. I am also analyzing data and conducting studies related to Kathy’s Pharmacogenetics of Membrane Transporters (PMT) grant. During the past four years, the research conducted on behalf of this grant has resulted in a wealth of data. We have a genotyping core facility, which identifies genetic variants of transporters (almost 40 transporter genes to date) and a bioinformatics core, which converts the data into a user-friendly form and carries out statistical genetic calculations. A number of graduate students and investigators are conducting in vitro and in vivo studies to examine the functional consequences of this variation. I am even using this data to answer questions coming in from around the world regarding genetic variation in the human genome. It has been a very rewarding experience!

What do you enjoy doing away from work?

When I am not at work, I love to read, hike, and spend time in the mountains. I have also taken up golf. My husband is an avid golfer. Most of all, I enjoy relaxing and spending time with my family and friends.

From PharmD to pharma

The possibilities for the PharmD degree in industry are tremendous, according to Mike Ryan, vice president and general manager, corporate accounts for Amgen, Inc. at the October 16 department of clinical pharmacy-sponsored presentation to School faculty, residents, and students. As an alumnus of the School, Mike used his own case study to demonstrate how the potential and power of clinical pharmacy training and an entrepreneurial attitude can be applied to careers in industry—from drug information to basic research, from marketing to the highest levels of corporate management.

Honoring Tack Kuntz


Tack Kuntz

Tack Kuntz, 32-year faculty member in the Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry and legendary scientist, is retired. His UCSF service was honored October 18 at a symposium at Mission Bay and a dinner reception at the California Culinary Academy. “The day was marked by kudos for Tack’s fine research accomplishments, including, of course, DOCK, the first computer-based molecular docking software program that calculates and displays in three dimensions how potential drugs might attach to target molecules,” said Tom James, chair, Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry. “Speakers also alluded to the collaborative research environment at UCSF. More than three decades ago, Tack and a few others strongly encouraged this mode of operation, which today is the norm at UCSF.” While officially retired, Tack will still be working under the title emeritus professor.

New director for the Self Care Center

Bill Soller, the new executive director of the Center for Consumer Self Care, Department of Clinical Pharmacy, was introduced to the faculty at the November 18 Faculty Town Hall meeting. Bill was formerly the leading regulatory scientist and health policy advocate for the Consumer Healthcare Products Association. “Bill’s career in health policy and research relating to self care with nonprescription medicines and dietary supplements, and his experience with government agencies and research will add important dimensions to the Center’s growth,” commented Mary Anne Koda-Kimble, dean.

OSACA moves up

The Office of Student and Curricular Affairs (OSACA) has relocated from the basement of UC Hall to a temporary space in the Medical Sciences Building, 513 Parnassus Avenue, Room S-960. While space for OSACA continues to be an essential part of the planning for the New Toland Hall building—or whatever new or renovated structure eventually serves the professional student and student administrative needs on campus—PharmD students will benefit from the modest 9th-floor renovation in the interim. “The most significant advantage to this new location is the student space,” according to Cindy Watchmaker, assistant dean of student affairs. “Our PharmD students now have a great space in which to meet, relax, and gather.”

White Coat Ceremony

The annual White Coat Ceremony for first-year PharmD students was held October 17 in Cole Hall. Walgreens Pharmacies and the Pharmacy Alumni Association sponsor this event. Mary Anne Koda-Kimble, dean, and Bret Brodowy, president of the alumni association, opened the program. “By coating our new students, we symbolically welcome them into the health professions and pharmacy communities,” said Mary Anne.

New graduate program coordinators

Debbie Acoba and Denise Chan join the School as the new coordinators for graduate programs in Pharmaceutical Sciences & Pharmacogenomics (PSPG) and Biological & Medical Informatics (BMI) respectively.

“Debbie comes to PSPG, already a member of the Department of Biopharmaceutical Sciences (BPS) as a pro-active go-getter whose exceptional skills include knowledge of the administrative areas that are essential for the success of the PSPG graduate program,” commented Paulette Powell, management services officer (MSO) for BPS. “She organized a large, international research meeting, interacting with corporate sponsors, has organized various other meetings, managed issues related to international scholars, and worked with NIH grants.

“Denise comes to BMI with exceptional experience as well. She provided administrative and technical support in the UCSF registrar’s office and worked in the graduate division handling admissions and registering students. The new online UCSF course catalog was designed and implemented by Denise as well as significant portions of the graduate division’s web site.

“We in BPS know how lucky we are to have these two rare gems join our staff as graduate program coordinators. We welcome them and wish them both our best,” Paulette added.

There’s No Place Like Homecoming

Parfitt Pattie and Rice

Marie Parfitt Pattie dressed as the Wicked Witch of the West, and Lorie Rice dressed as Dorothy at the Oz-themed Homecoming.

Each fall, the UCSF Pharmacy Alumni Association and the School sponsor a homecoming celebration to strengthen ties among alumni and welcome students. Homecoming 2003, held November 1, did just that, and how could it not with the theme There is No Place Like Homecoming.

More than 250 people came home to Parnassus to hear afternoon guest speaker, former UCSF Chancellor Phil Lee, discuss the intersection of Medicare, prescription drugs, and the role of the pharmacist. All three chairs shared department plans for the future. Doctor of Pharmacy students talked about their academic experiences, and Robert M. Elenbaas was honored as the Distinguished Alumnus of the Year.

Class reunions for the years ending in 3 and 8 were well attended, and an inaugural Half-Century Club luncheon welcomed more than 50 alumni who graduated 50 years ago or more. Topping the list as the oldest graduate at the lunch was Irvin Herskowitz who celebrated his 96th birthday in December and looks forward to attending next year’s luncheon.

In keeping with the year’s theme, the Wicked Witch of the West (Marie Parfitt Pattie, development) and Dorothy (Lorie Rice, Department of Clinical Pharmacy) showed up for the reception and dinner that was held in the Emerald City in the Land of Oz (aka Millberry Union Gym).

Employees of the Month

Congratulations to:

  • Michael Grafton, Dean’s Office, July 2003
  • Mai Thanh, Dean’s Office, September 2003
  • Jorge Garcia, Department of Clinical Pharmacy, November 2003
  • Sarah Magee, Dean’s Office, November 2003
  • Joyce August, Department of Clinical Pharmacy, December 2003

Honors and awards

  • Les Benet, Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, was named a Thomson ISI Highly Cited Researcher in December 2003. He is included in the pharmacology category.
  • Tom Kearney, Department of Clinical Pharmacy, received the Micromedex Award for Best Scientific Abstract at the 2003 North American Congress of Clinical Toxicology scientific meeting in Chicago, Illinois in October. The winning abstract was Prospective Study Evaluating the Effectiveness of Topical Antacids for Treating Capsaicin-Induced Dermatitis, co-authored with Susan Kim and Ilene Anderson.
  • Jim Wells, Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, received the Hans Neurath Award at the Protein Society meeting, Boston, Massachusetts, July 2003.
  • Mike Winter, Department of Clinical Pharmacy, was named as the California Society of Health-System Pharmacists (CSHP) Pharmacist of the Year for 2003 at the CSHP Seminar, October 2003, in Sacramento, California.

More news and notes

  • Lisa Bero, Department of Clinical Pharmacy, chaired a controversial plenary session on conflicts of interest at the October 2003 Cochrane Colloquium in Barcelona. She also presented a paper on Management of Conflicts of Interest with Elizabeth Boyd, and a poster of a Systematic Review of Health Professional Attitudes Towards Conflicts of Interest with postdoctoral fellow Bonnie Glaser.
  • Ken Dill, Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, gave the Merck Lecture in Biology at Carnegie-Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in October 2003. The title of the lecture was Protein Folding: A New Twist on the Transition State Idea.
  • Ron Finley, Department of Clinical Pharmacy, was appointed this fall to the American Society of Consultant Pharmacists, Evidence Based Medicine Task Force, which will develop a structure and process for creating summaries of applicable evidence-based guidelines for use by ASCP members, review published evidence-based guidelines and assess applicability for use by consultant pharmacists, especially those caring for frail elders.
  • Tom Kearney, Department of Clinical Pharmacy, presented at the 2003 North American Congress of Clinical Toxicology, American Board of Applied Toxicology symposium in Chicago, Illinois in October, 2003. His presentation was entitled Opiate/Opioid Receptors and Withdrawal: Bridging the Gap between Science and Practice.
  • Kathryn Phillips, Department of Clinical Pharmacy, is working as an advisor to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to develop policies on pharmacogenomic testing and drug therapies. The University of Connecticut listed her as one of 50 Most-Cited HIV Behavioral Researchers in the Past Decade because of her work on HIV testing.
  • Brian Shoichet, Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, was recognized by ISI for his hot paper, an article that is widely cited and introduces new ideas in science. The article was A Common Mechanism Underlying Promiscuous Inhibitors from Virtual and High-throughput Screening, J Med Chem 2002;45:1712-22. In addition, Brian presented A Specific Mechanism for Non-specific Inhibition at the Enzymes Gordon Conference, New Hampshire, July 2003. He spoke at the following symposia held by the Protein Society in Boston, July 2003: Symposium on Computational Modeling and Solvation in Drug Discovery—Model Systems for Molecular Docking; and Symposium on Protein Bioinformatics-Domains, Docking, and Dynamics: Docking vs. Screening vs. The Creature from the Black Lagoon.
  • Mike Winter, Department of Clinical Pharmacy, gave the keynote address at the 20th Annual Meeting of the Japanese Society for Therapeutic Drug Monitoring in Yokohama, Japan, June 2003.

Pharmacy fact

medication bottles with a pill and a glass of water

What does it mean to be OTC?

Over-the-counter (OTC) drug products are those drugs that are available to consumers without a prescription. There are more than 80 classes (therapeutic categories) of OTC drugs within which more than 100,000 OTC drug products are marketed. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) controls the classification of OTC drugs and the switching of drugs from prescription to non-prescription status.

OTC drugs generally have these characteristics:

  • their benefits outweigh their risks
  • the potential for misuse and abuse is low
  • consumers can use them for self-diagnosed conditions
  • they can be adequately labeled
  • health practitioners are not needed for the safe and effective use of the product.

Most OTC drug products have been marketed for many years, prior to the laws that require proof of safety and effectiveness before marketing. For this reason, the FDA has been evaluating the ingredients and labeling of these products as part of the OTC Drug Review Program. The goal of this program is to establish OTC drug monographs for each class of products. Source: Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Thank you

Susan Heath, Department of Clinical Pharmacy, School of Pharmacy News editor, will be retiring from the School in February. Thank you, Susan, for helping launch this publication and keeping us better informed about each other.


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.