Update from the Dean - Fall 2007/Winter 2008

Dear UCSF School of Pharmacy Family and Friends:

While writing this letter, I was reminded what an honor it is to lead this School. As you will see, the people taking us forward are beyond compare.

Strategic plan

I am excited to share with you our latest plan, Pressing Ahead in New Directions: Strategic Course 2007-2012, in which we lay out our intentions to:

  1. Create a new framework for drug discovery and development;
  2. Ensure that more patients get the best results from their drugs; and
  3. Shape the future of pharmacy science, policy, education, and patient care by working in fresh and collaborative ways.

We know that from the deepest reaches of our academic research will come the discoveries now needed to help revive a stalled drug discovery and development process. We know that as pharmacists, we must practice in new ways and in new places to meet changing medication needs. And, we see that old ways of working will not support the innovation we need. Only by pressing ahead in new directions will we succeed in improving patient health through drugs and novel therapies.

Our work builds on our last strategic plan and complements the inaugural UCSF campus plan, Advancing Health Worldwide™. I look forward to your thoughts on our new plan, and I will report back to you as we succeed in meeting our goals. Note that more details underlie the streamlined version of our plan, which is enclosed with this letter. I refer you to our planning website: pharmacy.ucsf.edu/go/plans.

PharmD student fee increase

The UC Regents voted on September 20, 2007 to increase professional student fees, including fees for pharmacy students. Effective fall 2008, our students, and those at UC San Diego, will see their fees increase by $1,760 per year for the next 3 years to a total of $17,155 in 2010-2011. These new fees approximate those of UC medical schools, which have comparable curricula. One-third of the revenue from our fee increase will be funneled back into student aid to lighten the financial burdens of those students severely impacted by the increase. In light of the news that the state is facing a projected $14 billion deficit this year, I am very concerned that some of these fee increases, which are intended to augment support for our program, will instead be used to offset cuts in the state budget.

I supported the increase in student fees with a heavy heart and only as a last resort. If we were to continue to deliver a quality PharmD program, meet new accreditation standards, and attract and retain the best faculty possible, it was essential that we augment our resources. Despite our unrelenting efforts to improve the state funding formula, our PharmD curriculum has been severely underfunded for more than four decades. An increase in fees was the only option available to meet our needs in the short term. Be assured that I continue to seek other long-term solutions.

Honors and awards

Bob Day, PharmD, and Glenn Yokoyama, PharmD, department of clinical pharmacy, have been selected Fellows of the American Pharmacists Association (APhA). Fellows have 10 years of professional experience and must have demonstrated progressive, exemplary professional service through APhA academies and other national, state, and local professional organizations.

Bob has served as an avid advocate, advisor, and role model for all pharmacy students-particularly those involved in the APhA Academy of Student Pharmacists—for more than 40 years. He has been an activist for patients and the rights of pharmacists to care for them. Throughout his career, Bob has consistently encouraged students to attend society meetings and to participate in debates as full-fledged professional partners. He has instilled in our students a passion for creating professional change.

The hours Glenn devotes to professional service at the national and state levels reflect his dedication to pharmacy and its continued development. Glenn is currently the treasurer of the American Pharmacists Association Foundation. He has served as president of the California Pharmacists Association (CPhA), the CPhA Foundation, the California Society of Health-System Pharmacists (CSHP), and the California State Board of Pharmacy. He is a CSHP fellow as well.

Paul Ortiz de Montellano, PhD, department of pharmaceutical chemistry, was presented with the 2007 R.T. Williams Distinguished Scientific Achievement Award at the 8th meeting of the International Society for the Study of Xenobiotics. The award recognizes substantial and seminal scientific contributions to the field over time and the best in the field internationally. Paul's research has been critical to our knowledge of drug metabolism by cytochrome P450 and related enzymes and our understanding of toxicities that sometimes arise from drug metabolism.

For his contributions of unusual merit to basic research in protein science, Robert Stroud, PhD, joint faculty member in the departments of pharmaceutical chemistry and biochemistry and biophysics, will be honored by the Protein Society with the 2008 Hans Neurath Award. Bob is known throughout the protein research community for his significant contributions to the understanding of structure-function relationships in enzymes and membrane proteins. Two pharmaceutical chemistry faculty members, Jim Wells, PhD, and Ken Dill, PhD, are previous Hans Neurath Award recipients.

Ken Dill, PhD, department of pharmaceutical chemistry, received the 2007 Distinguished Service Award from the Biophysical Society. The award honors service in the field of biophysics and contributions beyond achievements in research. Ken has consistently advocated for national reform in research funding to allow for greater support of innovation. A past president of the Biophysical Society, Ken co-chairs the society's public affairs committee. He also is co-founder of the Bridging the Sciences Coalition, which brings together science societies to speak as one voice for deeper innovation and cross-disciplinary research. Ken serves the School in his role as associate dean for research and as a member of my leadership group.

Rita Shane, PharmD, assistant dean, member of the School's Board of Advisors, and director of pharmacy services at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, California, has been named the 2007 Pharmacist of the Year by the California Society of Health-System Pharmacists (CSHP). The award was given in recognition of Rita's professional contributions to CSHP and its mission of promoting wellness and the best use of medications. Rita supervises a staff of more than 200 at Cedars-Sinai. She is an accomplished clinician, administrator, systems expert, and researcher whose science focuses on medication safety.

Eleanor Vogt, RPh, PhD, William Soller, PhD, and Philip Chan, PharmD, department of clinical pharmacy, Center for Consumer Self Care, were awarded a grant from the National Association of Chain Drug Stores Foundation aimed at promoting the practice of community pharmacy and improving patient health. The team will look at the clinical and cost effectiveness of community pharmacist interventions in patient care—specifically in diabetes and lipid management—in a pilot study in Greater Sacramento.

More honors and awards

Here are a few important honors and awards received in the not-too-distant past that were just brought to my attention:

In May 2007, CC Wang, PhD, department of pharmaceutical chemistry, received the Presidential Award from the National Yang-Ming University in Taipei, Taiwan, in recognition of his research accomplishments and his work to help the university move forward its biomedical agenda over the past 20 years. CC's longtime success in advancing health worldwide—UCSF's new mission statement—through his work with parasitic diseases is an inspiration to us all.

Christopher Voigt, PhD, department of pharmaceutical chemistry, was honored by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation as a 2006 Fellow in Science and Engineering. This award is given to promising new scientists. Chris received this award for developing a genetic language to program microbial machines for pharmaceutical and industrial applications, in which new sensors are built that give bacteria the sense of touch, sight, and smell. I encourage you to read the January 2008 issue of Nature Methods, in which Chris has an article on ways to improve DNA synthesis.

In April 2007, the Hartwell Foundation announced that Jim Wells, PhD, department of pharmaceutical chemistry, was chosen as a member of the inaugural class of Hartwell Individual Biomedical Research Award recipients. This award is given to investigators from the 2006 top 10 centers of biomedical research, as identified by the Hartwell Foundation. Award candidates must be pursuing early-stage, innovative biomedical research that will benefit U.S. children and that has not yet qualified for significant funding from outside sources. Only those investigators nominated by the chief executive of an invited research institution are eligible for consideration for the Hartwell Award. Jim's research is on novel drug targets for leukemias.

Papers of interest

Computational biologist Andrej Sali, PhD, department of biopharmaceutical sciences, and colleagues at Rockefeller University have developed new techniques to reveal the architecture of large protein complexes within cells. Their ultimate goal is to see how these complexes interact in real time—however fleeting the encounters. Their research appears twice in Nature, November 29, 2007, under the titles "Determining the architecture of macromolecular structures" and "The molecular architecture of the nuclear pore complex." The papers were rated by Nature editors as their favorite among 2007 cell biology papers. "Determining the architecture of macromolecular structures" was chosen as one of the Chemistry and Chemical Engineering News 2007 chemistry highlights. It also appeared on December 26, 2007, as #1 among interesting papers published in the biological sciences by the online research service Faculty of 1000 Biology. This service reviews the most interesting research papers published in the biological sciences based upon recommendations of scientists. The second Nature paper appeared on the same day as the #2-rated paper by the same group. According to Andrej, "The better we understand the architecture and interplay of protein communities inside our cells, the better we will understand our biology in health and disease."

A student research project that evolved into a research paper submission will receive the American Pharmacists Association (APhA) Clinical Research Paper Award at this year's annual APhA meeting. The paper, "Drug interaction between oral contraceptives and St. John's wort: Appropriateness of advice received from community pharmacists and health food store clerks," appeared in the January/February 2007 issue of the Journal of the American Pharmacists Association. The lead author of the paper is our former pharmacy student Lord Sarino, PharmD. Fellow former pharmacy students Kristy Dang, PharmD, Nahal Dianat, PharmD, Hera Djihanian, PharmD, and Neda Natanian, PharmD, are co-authors. Project advisors, who are also co-authors, were Peter Ambrose, PharmD, department of clinical pharmacy, and Karen Hudmon, DrPH, department of clinical pharmacy volunteer faculty member who is now with Purdue University. The study identified a public health risk to women taking oral contraceptives, which might become ineffective if they also take St. John's wort. The project was supported by the Vince Isnardi Opportunity Fund. Vince is a 1943 graduate of the School.

In a research paper published in the spring 2007 issue of Ethnicity & Disease, Sharon Youmans, PharmD, MPH, department of clinical pharmacy, and collaborators found that among the elderly insured African Americans with chronic diseases they studied, there was no existing, "trusting" relationship with a pharmacist. While subjects expressed an interest in engaging with a pharmacist about medication use, few felt comfortable initiating such discussions. This study is an example of the department of clinical pharmacy's work toward realizing its vision "to be the best at bridging gaps in patient care, especially for the underserved."

In the January 27, 2008 issue of Nature Chemical Biology, Brian Shoichet, PhD, department of pharmaceutical chemistry, and colleagues reported that many amyloid inhibitors, which scientists had hoped would keep "sticky" amyloid protein fibers such as those associated with Alzheimer's disease from aggregating in brain tissue, actually clump together themselves. This clumping would make these amyloid inhibitors useless as targeted therapies against amyloid in the brain. In addition, in their clumped form, these amyloid inhibitors inhibit most other proteins with which they come in contact. "A cautionary conclusion to emerge from these studies," write the authors, "is that chemical aggregators may be common among inhibitors of amyloid fibrillization." The title of the article is "Small-molecule aggregates inhibit amyloid polymerization." One of the authors of this paper is Brian Feng, PhD, who is the recipient of an Alumni Fellowship Award.

New faculty

We have welcomed 5 new faculty members since I wrote to you last. Nadav Ahituv, PhD, joined the department of biopharmaceutical sciences, where he is working to better understand the relationship between gene regulation and disease. Nadav earned a PhD in human genetics from Tel Aviv University, then moved to the U.S. for postdoctoral training in genomics at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. His clinical interests include pharmacogenomics, limb malformations, and obesity.

Ogechi Ikediobi, PharmD, PhD, Jane Kreager, PharmD, Christie Robinson, PharmD, and Jaekyu Shin, PharmD, all joined the department of clinical pharmacy. Ogechi earned a PharmD from Florida A&M University and a PhD in cancer pharmacogenomics from Cambridge University. Jane earned a PharmD from the University of Washington, then joined us for 2 postdoctoral residencies. Her specialties are consumer self care and drug safety. Christie also completed 2 residencies with us after earning a PharmD from the University of Tennessee Health Science Center. Her specialty is internal medicine. Jaekyu's work focuses on the safe and effective use of medicines, using pharmacogenomics information. He earned a PharmD from the University of Florida, where he stayed to complete a fellowship in cardiovascular pharmacogenomics.

New director of pharmaceutical services

Lynn Paulsen, PharmD, School of Pharmacy alumna, was named in November 2007 as director of pharmaceutical services for the UCSF Medical Center. Lynn took over for Joe Guglielmo, PharmD, chair of our department of clinical pharmacy, who had been serving as director of pharmaceutical services on an interim basis. Lynn has worked for more than 30 years in hospital management, and has extensive experience in regulatory standards, budget, program development and implementation, and analytical tools and methods. She has strong academic and medical center credentials. She has accepted my invitation to join the School as associate dean for pharmaceutical services and Joe's invitation to serve as the department of clinical pharmacy's vice chair for pharmaceutical services. We look forward to collaborating with her.

In memory

Mr. Mutsuo Mizuno died this January in Japan. He was a dear friend of the UCSF School of Pharmacy, an extraordinary man, and a visionary in the pharmacy field. We first came to know Mr. Mizuno through his son, Yoshi, who earned a PharmD degree here. Yoshi returned to Japan to develop Mizuno Pharmacy into one of the most advanced and farsighted clinical pharmacy practices in the world. As chairman of the board of directors at Tokyo University of Pharmacy and Life Sciences (TUPLS), Mr. Mizuno initiated a long-lasting partnership between that institution and the UCSF School of Pharmacy. As a result, our faculty members have been working with our friends at TUPLS for more than a decade to design and deliver a clinical pharmacy curriculum to Japan. Our thoughts are with the Mizuno family.

I look forward to hearing from you, as always.

With warm regards,

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


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.