Update from the Dean - Fall/Winter 2007

Update from the Dean - Fall/Winter 2007

Dear UCSF School of Pharmacy Family and Friends:

In what seems to be an increasing whirl of activities and demands here at the School, it can be easy to simply move forward at high speed. Once in a while, however, it is good for us all to stop and reflect. Such a time came recently as we mourned the January 17, 2007 death of former School of Pharmacy Dean Jere Goyan.

In Memory

Jere served as dean from 1967-1992, except for a 2-year leave (1979-1981) when he led the US Food and Drug Administration (US FDA) as the first, and subsequently only, pharmacist commissioner. Jere was trained in both pharmacy and pharmaceutical chemistry. He spearheaded the development of clinical pharmacy here at UCSF, a feat that is now emulated around the world. The faculty he built vastly broadened the science conducted at UCSF. Jere was a dedicated patient advocate. He chaired a California state legislative commission that recommended pharmacists be required to provide written or oral instruction on prescription use to each patient. That recommendation consequently became law.

Jere was a giant. Of this we were all reminded again during his campus memorial service on February 23, 2007 when many friends and colleagues shared stories of his amazing life and read tributes sent by national leaders including former United States President Jimmy Carter.

As I think of Jere and the School of Pharmacy faculty, whose major accomplishments in science and health are recognized on the world stage, I think as well of the hundreds of pharmacy and graduate students and staff, whose combined excellence continually and quietly fuel our School's success. Here is a sample:

Students and Staff

Leslie Chinn earned a bachelor's degree in biochemistry from the University of Michigan before heading back to her hometown of San Francisco to join Deanna Kroetz's lab working in the area of pharmacogenomics. Leslie is now finishing her PhD in Pharmaceutical Sciences and Pharmacogenomics (PSPG) and has been selected as the first Amgen Research Excellence in Biopharmaceutical Sciences Fellow. The fellowship supports research related to drug disposition such as drug metabolism, drug transporters, pharmacogenomics, and drug delivery. Leslie was selected based upon her exceptional work on the role of membrane transporters in the redistribution of body fat in some patients who undergo HIV drug treatment (HIV NRTI-induced lipodystropy). Leslie's work focuses specifically on the potential gate-keeping role of transporters in the fat loss of patients on HIV drug therapy. Her work exemplifies the collaborative interactions required for successful translational research. According to Leslie, she entered the PSPG graduate program because it is one of the few graduate programs in the country that combines aspects of benchwork with medicine and pharmacy, enabling her, as she says, "to see the clinical applications of what I work on in the lab -- even as a graduate student."

Frank Farm is our web and data services manager for both the dean's office and the office of student and curricular affairs. He earned a bachelor's degree in computer and information sciences from the University of California, Santa Cruz, where he graduated with honors. We were fortunate to recruit Frank to academia after his years with Adobe Systems, Inc. Frank's work is exceptional, collegial, and focused on improving web use and access for the School. He is sought out frequently by campus colleagues for his expertise and approach to finding broad-based web solutions to University web problems. We talk a lot at UCSF about interdepartmental research, interdisciplinary education, and systems approaches to biological problems. Frank applies this same collaborative approach to his work on the web. He is receiving the 2007 Chancellor's Award for Exceptional University Service through a nomination of his campus peers.

Hamdan Almas is a 4th-year student pharmacist in the pharmaceutical care pathway who was born in Qatar of parents from Bangladesh. He earned a bachelor's degree from Creighton University in Nebraska, majoring in computer science and theology while completing the prerequisites for pharmacy school. Hamden's ultimate goal is to develop, in Bangladesh, a pharmaceutical company that will make medications available to the country's underserved majority. In the meantime here on campus, Hamdan received one of three 2007 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Awards for extraordinary leadership in promoting and advancing mutual respect, understanding, and appreciation for all types of diversity at UCSF. Under his wing, the UCSF International Students and Scholars Association and the Muslim Students Association were founded and now flourish. "Global understanding is essential for a peaceful world future," says Hamdan. "It can start here and now with individuals working together. As pharmacists in particular, it is essential for us to be culturally competent and attuned to how beliefs and customs affect medication use and administration." Hamdan has been awarded a fellowship at Biogen Idec in Boston where he will spend the next 2 years learning about the drug development process, including the drug regulatory process and drug safety guidelines.

Jake Beverage, a 3rd-year student pharmacist, joined us after earning a bachelor's degree in biology from Vanderbilt University and working 5 years in the biotech industry. Jake chose not to pursue the pharmaceutical sciences pathway option of our curriculum. Instead, he opted to gain more clinical and patient exposure in the pharmaceutical care pathway because he knew he would not apply for a clinical residency after graduation. With his education in biology and pharmacy, hands-on experience in biotech, and an internship last summer at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) working in pharmacokinetics and pharmacogenomics with William D. Figg, PharmD, Jake has built a path for himself as a PharmD clinical scientist. "This kind of clinical scientist is like a guiding light, guiding the flow of information back and forth between bench scientists, health providers, and the health systems in which providers work, and between providers and patients," says Jake. "In the drug development setting, the clinical scientist has the potential to lead study design, early stage, and translational research. It's a great opportunity for PharmDs, but there is now no clear path to get there."

Clinical Scientists

One of my personal crusades is to clear the way for PharmDs and PharmD students like Jake who want to develop a level of scientific expertise that allows them to compete successfully for federal research funding and conduct much-needed clinical pharmacology and experimental therapeutics research in the biotech and pharmaceutical industries.

Currently, there is a dearth of clinical scientists, and in particular PharmD clinical scientists.

I will be working closely with Joe Guglielmo, PharmD and Kathy Giacomini, PhD, chairs of the departments of clinical pharmacy and biopharmaceutical sciences, respectively, on this important initiative.

We are already taking steps to develop our young clinical faculty as clinical scientists.

We are very proud of department of clinical pharmacy faculty member Kirby Lee, PharmD, MA, who has been awarded an NIH Multidisciplinary Clinical Research Career Development Award by the UCSF Clinical and Translational Sciences Training Program (CTST K12). Funding begins July 1, 2007 and will be approximately $500,000 over 5 years. The purpose of this award is to increase the number and quality of outstanding clinical investigators skilled at leading multidisciplinary research teams. Kirby's goal is to become an independent health services researcher in the pharmacoepidemiologic study of chronic disease in older adults. His research project will focus on understanding and improving prescribing and medication adherence for older adults with hypertension. "As pharmacists, we are uniquely trained in therapeutics and work closely with patients and other health care providers to optimize drug therapy," says Kirby. "We need the training and funding made possible through programs such as the CTST K12 to cultivate our research skills so we can develop and test interventions to improve patient care and ultimately maximize benefits and minimize risks of drug therapy." Two other clinical pharmacy faculty members, Kathy Yang, PharmD and Jennifer Cocohoba, PharmD, are past recipients of K12 awards.

Furthermore, Kathy Giacomini, PhD, chair of the department of biopharmaceutical sciences, and colleagues across the United States were important in the development of a new NIH website, which is geared to helping PharmDs identify NIH research funding opportunities, write successful grant applications, and develop research careers. This is an excellent resource. Be sure to visit [PharmD Gateway to NIH][link defunct].

Medicare Part D Outreach

I wrote in my last Dean's Update (Spring/Summer 2006) that our student pharmacists sounded a call to action last year, with the full support and training of key faculty members, and set out to counsel underserved seniors about their confusing and complex Medicare Part D options. That program, now called Partners in D, has evolved into a statewide initiative involving all California pharmacy schools. This coordinated research-based training and outreach program is led by Marilyn Stebbins, PharmD and Helene Levens Lipton, PhD, faculty members in the department of clinical pharmacy. It is made possible through a generous $3.7 million grant from the Amgen Foundation.

CCB Training Grant

The NIH has renewed the Chemistry and Chemical Biology (CCB) graduate program's Chemistry-Biology Interface (CBI) training grant for five years. The total amount of the award will be approximately $1.5 million with the actual amount being decided in May 2007. The CCB graduate program provides a chemical foundation for understanding complex biological processes at an atomic level. At this resolution, the concepts and tools of chemistry can be applied and exploited with great precision and acuity to develop novel chemical strategies to understand fundamental biological processes and to diagnose, combat, and cure human disease. Obtaining training grant support is very challenging in the current climate of reduced governmental funding of research. Much-deserved recognition goes to CCB Program Director Charly Craik, PhD for the extensive work and documentation that was required for the successful renewal. Since the training grant only supports approximately 20% of the annual costs of running the CCB program, there is a desperate need for additional funds to support the research efforts of our exceptional CCB graduate students. Support for our graduate programs and students is an ongoing priority.

New Course

An inaugural 2-year American Course on Drug Development and Regulatory Sciences will commence September 2007 with the aim of providing the education needed to modernize the development and regulation processes for new medical products. The course will be held at the University of California Washington Center in the District of Columbia. It is designed for biopharmaceutical industry professionals, academic and government scientists, and policymakers who have a basic knowledge of medical product development, regulation, and market introduction. The course was developed by our department of biopharmaceutical sciences and our Washington, DC-based Center for Drug Development Sciences (CDDS), together with the US FDA and a network of partners in the US and Europe. The faculty of international experts is exceptional. Distance learning formats are being developed, and registration is under way. For details, see American Course on Drug Development and Regulatory Sciences.

Center for Drug Development Sciences

Since I last wrote, Howard Lee, MD, PhD, was appointed as the new director of our Center for Drug Development Sciences, located in Washington, DC. As part of his agenda, Howard will lead an international initiative to establish a CDDS-based Center for Asian-Pacific Drug Regulation Studies (CADRE). This center will prepare regulatory scientists with the knowledge needed to improve drug development and drug regulatory systems in China, India, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and other countries. He also will oversee development and implementation of a new Diagnostics and Therapeutics Regulatory Consulting Service (DTRCS) as part of UCSF's new Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) funded by the NIH. Howard earned his medical degree and his PhD in epidemiology from the Seoul National University College of Medicine. He completed a 2-year postdoctoral drug development and regulatory science fellowship at the CDDS with Carl Peck, MD and was an assistant professor of pharmacology at Georgetown University. In South Korea, Howard served as secretary-general and director of general affairs of the Korean Academy of Pharmaceutical Medicine and is credited with helping the South Korean FDA modernize clinical trial regulations. Howard succeeds Carl Peck, MD, CDDS co-founder, who will continue to work with the center on projects such as the American Course on Drug Development and Regulatory Sciences.

New Faculty Member

One new faculty member has joined our ranks since I wrote to you last. Marcus Ferrone, PharmD, BCNSP, is an assistant professor of clinical pharmacy in the department of clinical pharmacy and serves as the assistant director of the department's Drug Products Services Laboratory (DPSL). Marcus came to the School from the Mayo Clinic where he was a clinical pharmacist in gastroenterology and hepatology. He specializes in pharmaceutical compounding and drug design, gastroenterology and clinical nutrition support. While working with DPSL director Joanne Whitney, PhD, PharmD, Marcus will also be teaching the pharmaceutical calculations portions of our introductory pharmacy practice courses.

Diversity Report

Diversity is an ongoing issue in the School, as it is campuswide. Last year, I convened a School of Pharmacy Diversity Task Force and charged the group with assessing the current status of underrepresented minorities (URM) within the School and making recommendations for improvement.

Note: the definition of underrepresented minority groups differs among School faculty members, student pharmacists and residents, and staff members. URM for the:

  • Faculty: Black/African American, Hispanic, Asian, Native American
  • Student pharmacists and residents: Black/African American, Native American, Filipino, Hispanic
  • Staff: Black/African American, Hispanic, Native American

The Task Force report highlighted the mixed success we have had in recruiting and retaining a diverse body of faculty, residents, student pharmacists, and staff. For example, the overall trend in URM student pharmacist recruitment has been disappointing; the percentages of URM student pharmacists in our entering classes have declined over the past four years from 13.8% in 2003 to 10.8% in 2006.

On a more positive note, minorities comprised 24% of our faculty in 2004, which is higher than the 19% national average among pharmacy schools. Between 2000 and 2006, our Black/African American staff increased from 4.1% to 5.5%, and our Hispanic staff increased from 6.2% to 9.6%. These percentages, however, lag behind UCSF overall. The Task Force recommended that we formalize and centralize our commitment to diversity in the School through the appointment of a dedicated position; that we review and strengthen our processes for attracting and retaining qualified URM faculty members, student pharmacists, residents, and staff members; and that we add our commitment to diversity to the School's mission statement. I have asked several members of our leadership group to implement the Task Force recommendations. The faculty has already approved a revised mission statement.

Fresno Program

Another way we are approaching diversity is to help ensure that our student pharmacists gain experience among diverse populations, especially in areas underserved by pharmacists. Our ultimate hope is to seed the profession in these areas and to attract minority students to the profession. To this end, we established a site in Fresno, California 5 years ago for students to gain their required clinical experiences in their 4th year of pharmacy school. I attended a 5-year anniversary dinner for our UCSF Fresno Satellite Pharmacy Education Program in March 2007 along with local alumni, volunteer preceptors, and students. Thanks to them all for making the program a success. The good news is that next year, we will have more than doubled our enrollment in the Fresno program, from 5 inaugural students in the first year of the program to 12 students in the 2007-2008 academic year. To date, 7 of our graduates have chosen to remain in Fresno to practice. Mitra Assemi, PharmD, the program director for our Fresno site, is doing a terrific job.

APhA-ASP Award

On a final note, I cheered when the UCSF chapter of the American Pharmacist Association-Academy of Student Pharmacists (APhA-ASP) was given the Outstanding Chapter Award for the AA Division at the March 2007 APhA annual meeting in Atlanta, Georgia. The award is given each year for the most outstanding chapter that has excelled in patient care initiatives, legislative activities, professional development activities, membership recruitment, and innovation. Congratulations to our students, who consistently garner national recognition for their exceptional professionalism. They are truly the crème de la crème!

Each time I sit down to write this letter, I wonder whether there will be enough School news over the past 6 months to fill a page. But I should know better by now. I can always count on the great work of our stellar family of staff, students, faculty and alumni to fill several pages. I enjoy hearing from you, so as always, please let me know what you're up to, or write to share other thoughts via e-mail or post.

With warm regards always,

Yours sincerely,

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


About the School: The UCSF School of Pharmacy is a premier graduate-level academic organization dedicated to improving health through precise therapeutics. It succeeds through innovative research, by educating PharmD health professional and PhD science students, and by caring for the therapeutics needs of patients while exploring innovative new models of patient care. The School was founded in 1872 as the first pharmacy school in the American West. It is an integral part of UC San Francisco, a leading university dedicated to promoting health worldwide.

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