Update from the Dean - Spring/Summer 2008

Dear UCSF School of Pharmacy Family and Friends:

Another academic year will soon begin. I can hardly believe it. We have barely caught our collective breath from last year—a year of intense preparation for the reaccreditation review of our Doctor of Pharmacy program and of launching our School strategic plan.

We are doing exceptionally well. Our PharmD and PhD students, postdoctoral scholars, and residents are beyond compare. Their maturity, commitment, and increasingly diverse backgrounds enrich our School in every way. New faculty members are replacing those who are retiring. Honors and awards keep coming in. Our staff continues to improve our effectiveness and efficiency. All of us are working to accomplish our strategic plan goals and make lives better through the best use of medications.

Reaccreditation of PharmD Program

I am pleased to report that our Doctor of Pharmacy program has been reaccredited through June 30, 2014 by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE). Overall, the feedback from the evaluation team about our program was extremely positive.

Our faculty and staff are of the highest caliber, noted the ACPE team in its report, "as evidenced by their effectiveness as teachers, their record of scholarly activity, their high degree of professional competence, and their outstanding service commitment."

The team recognized that we help our students not only to succeed, but to lead, stating that the "School has also placed a strong emphasis on the development of leadership and professionalism in the students…The team commends the School for developing and sustaining an environment that supports student success, facilitates professional development, and encourages student-faculty interaction in the classroom, in clinical settings, and in extracurricular programs."

Our Office of Student and Curricular Affairs (OSACA) was acknowledged for "its support of the overall goals of the PharmD program, its support for students, and concern for their success." We were praised for our "comprehensive and useful web site."

At the same time, the accreditation report rang the bell of financial alarm.

The team noted what continues to be our major concern—underfunding of our PharmD program. It was clear to ACPE that we have been forced to finance our own success and compensate for California funding cuts by tripling student fees since 2000, by increasing grant support, and by pursuing entrepreneurial opportunities through external contracts.

The team recognized that changing market forces and unfunded state mandates, such as required salary increases, are placing increasing pressure on our budget. The report emphasized that the School needs additional annual revenues to recruit and retain the number of clinical and science faculty members required to meet ACPE standards and maintain the quality of our professional degree program into the future.

In its report the team stated that "funding problems have persisted with the School since the last accreditation review…The Chancellor and UCSF campus have been highly supportive of the School in its efforts to obtain more funds; however, they have been unable to change the University's 11 to 1 student-to-faculty funding formula for the School of Pharmacy to one that is commensurate with other health care programs on campus…Although the School has been working diligently to change this situation, it has run out of new strategies to address the problem."

Nonetheless and in the face of serious funding problems, we continue to move forward. In fact, as my letter will share, our progress since I last wrote has been tremendous. I find this amazing and can only wonder what we could accomplish if we were properly funded.


Our students are a force of change. The Science Squad is a perfect example. The Squad is a group of 30 student pharmacists that gives back to 5th-graders at the Rosa Parks Elementary School in San Francisco's Western Addition neighborhood some of the science education lacking in their curriculum. Through hands-on teaching, the Squad relates science to everyday life and makes the connection to health sciences careers. The Squad teaches at Rosa Parks twice each quarter and is now beginning its 2nd full year of operation. The idea for the program came from student pharmacist Ashish Patel, who is national president of the Student National Pharmaceutical Association (SNPhA), an organization that works to meet the needs of underserved communities. Megan McCurdy and Bennett Bain, student pharmacists and leaders in SNPhA, transformed Ashish's initial idea into a thriving program last year. This year's Squad leaders are Nikolai Dahl, Pat Febre, Rachelle Bermingham, Trevor Luke, and Hung Ho. To date, the Science Squad has taught 100 Rosa Parks students. Our students hope the program will eventually involve students from each of UCSF's 4 professional schools and become a model for other elementary schools in the San Francisco Unified School District.

Another student pharmacist-initiated success is the Program for Investigation and Training for Careers in Health (PITCH), which premiered in summer 2007. It is an intensive 3-week program designed to bring underrepresented minority high school students into health care careers through exposure to science, and skill development in writing, interviewing, and presentation techniques. Attendees are also advised on how to meet college admissions requirements and succeed once in college. The program is held on the UCSF Parnassus campus where UCSF students from pharmacy, nursing, dentistry, and medicine serve as counselors. Ashish Patel proposed the PITCH program. The program is on its way with the help of Megan McCurdy and under the sponsorship and direction of Tracy Stevens, PhD, who directs the UCSF Center for Science and Education Opportunity (CSEO). 10 high school students participated in summer 2007 and 20 participated this August.

From these 2 examples—the Science Squad and PITCH—you can see that our students are driving our strategic plan goal to advance interprofessional learning and practice.

Summer Science Camp was conceived by student pharmacist Heather Hertema who worked closely with the San Francisco Unified School District and elementary school principals in the San Francisco Mission District to bring 55 elementary school children to the UCSF Parnassus campus for 1 week this summer. Heather explains that "by exposing students early on to the excitement of science, through stimulating, hands-on activities, as well as exposing them to positive role models, we will encourage them to pursue science and the health professions both in college and as a career." The School funded the camp to ensure that all interested students could attend at no charge.

All 3 of these programs—The Science Squad, PITCH, and Summer Science Camp—share the common goal of helping underserved children succeed academically, become excited about science, and consider careers in health care. These ideas are core to our strategic plan.

I was proud to learn that student pharmacist Serena Huntington was named one of 12 winners of the 2008 Bay Area Albert Schweitzer Fellowship. This service-based fellowship honors the work and spirit of Albert Schweitzer and addresses the health disparities listed in Healthy People 2010 (HP2010), a United States Health and Human Services initiative to promote good health and long life. The goal of Serena's project is to put the pharmacist in the role of a preventative healthcare provider. Again, Serena's work in addressing health disparities reflects a School strategic plan priority.

Research Funding

It might seem paradoxical that when our core funding from California for faculty and operations is so very inadequate, our federal research funding figures for 2007 are so very impressive. In fact, we again received more research and grant funding from the National Institutes of Health than any other pharmacy school in the United States. Our 2007 figures exceeded $25.25 million.

While we have insufficient state resources to carry out our PharmD curriculum, we continue to succeed in attracting external support for our work. Much of the external support for our clinical faculty, however, is in the form of contracts with organizations outside of UCSF, which hire our clinical faculty to provide pharmacy-related services. These funding sources help cover the salaries of clinical faculty members who are not fully funded by California.

California Poison Control System

The safety of the people of California is again at risk. The California Poison Control System (CPCS), which we administer, is facing a $1,000,000 budget cut in Calfornia general funds for fiscal year 2008-2009. This is a combination of the governor's 10% across-the-board cut plus an additional disproportionate cut of more than $300,000 imposed by the California senate budget committee on health. The system has been able to continue operations this fiscal year only by exhausting all of its operating reserves, instituting a hiring freeze, and limiting salary increases. The CPCS has had no general fund budget augmentation since fiscal year 2003-2004. It has not increased the number of staff employed since 1998. And, it is considered one of the most cost-efficient poison centers in the United States. If these cuts are not reinstated, the CPCS will cut services or close. We are doing everything we can to underscore the consequences of permanent cuts to the people of California.

Tobacco Ban Legislation

You might have seen recent media coverage of a new San Francisco ordinance, passed by our Board of Supervisors on August 5, 2008, that bans the sale of tobacco in San Francisco pharmacies. I believe this landmark legislation reaffirms pharmacies as venues for health promotion and pharmacists as professionals dedicated to the health and well-being of their patients. I joined my School colleagues—Lisa Bero, PhD; Robin Corelli, PharmD; Lisa Kroon, PharmD; and Karen Hudmon, DrPH, RPh—in advocating for a "yes" vote on the ordinance. We wrote an opinion piece published in the San Francisco Business Times, July 25, 2008. Here is an excerpt:

…We all know that cigarette smoking is the leading cause of preventable disease and death in this country. Tobacco products are sold in pharmacies, with the knowledge that they cause harm. What if you could buy a pack of influenza virus or a carton of HIV at your local pharmacy? Tobacco is not that different. It, too, is an agent of disease. That's why it's a conflict of interest for pharmacies, which provide health care, to profit from the sale of tobacco products, which put health at risk. Furthermore, the sale of tobacco products alongside medications used to treat tobacco dependence is an ethical contradiction….

I give this example because it demonstrates how we are actively moving forward to meet our School goal to "steer policy that affects health sciences research and health care."

Beijing Blog

Visit My Olympic Journey by department of clinical pharmacy faculty member Peter Ambrose, PharmD. Peter, an expert in sports pharmacy, is at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games as a volunteer doping control officer.

New Faculty

We have welcomed several faculty members since I wrote to you last. Danica Galonić Fujimori, PhD, a chemical biologist, is studying the enzymatic features responsible for the development of antibiotic resistance. Danica joins the department of pharmaceutical chemistry faculty and has a joint appointment in the UCSF School of Medicine. Danica earned a PhD in chemistry from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and then worked as a postdoctoral research fellow in the department of biological chemistry and molecular pharmacology at Harvard Medical School. She earned her undergraduate degree in chemistry from the University of Belgrade, Serbia. As an indicator of subsequent honors, Danica received in 2000 the Serbian Chemical Society Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Chemistry.

Eric Jorgenson, PhD, joins the department of biopharmaceutical sciences. He is developing new and improved ways to investigate complex human traits as he characterizes the genetic variation underlying complex disease. This avenue of research is especially timely because of the recent availability of large-scale data on genetic variation in the human genome. Eric earned a PhD in genetics from Stanford University and has been with UCSF since 2004 as a postdoctoral fellow in the department of epidemiology and biostatistics.

Elisa Ashton, PharmD, joins the department of clinical pharmacy along with Kirsten Balano, PharmD. Elisa specializes in pharmacoeconomics and leads pay-for-performance initiatives for the Sacramento-based Catholic Healthcare West Medical Foundation/Mercy Medical Group. She earned a PharmD from the University of the Pacific and completed a hospital pharmacy residency at the University of California, Davis Medical Center. Kirsten, who is an HIV medication expert, is establishing a new satellite advanced experience program for 4th-year pharmacy students in the North Bay. A 1991 graduate of the UCSF School of Pharmacy, Kirsten was the clinical coordinator for the National HIV/AIDS Clinicians' Consultation Center at San Francisco General Hospital.

Because of the timing of my Updates, mention of 3 terrific faculty members slipped through the editorial cracks. The department of biopharmaceutical sciences welcomed Ellen Feigal, MD. Ellen earned a medical degree from the University of California, Davis and completed a residency in internal medicine at Stanford University and her fellowship in hematology/oncology at UCSF. Ellen directs our American Course on Drug Development and Regulatory Science, which I described in the Fall/Winter 2007 Update. The course is held at our Washington-DC-based Center for Drug Development Sciences. Nancy Hessol, MSPH, and Ruth Greenblatt, MD, joined the department of clinical pharmacy. Nancy is an epidemiologist who specializes in HIV. She earned an MSPH in epidemiology from the University of California, Los Angeles and worked at the San Francisco Department of Public Health AIDS Office where her primary interest was the epidemiology of HIV infection. Ruth joined UCSF as a research epidemiologist in the early 1990's. Ruth specializes in infectious diseases and women's health. She earned a medical degree from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, and completed a medical residency at University Hospitals of Cleveland and an infectious diseases fellowship at University of Washington, Seattle. Ruth is the founder of the Women's HIV Program (WHP) at UCSF. A belated welcome to Ruth, Nancy, and Ellen.

New Chair of the Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry

Jim Wells, PhD, is the new chair of the department of pharmaceutical chemistry, succeeding Tom James, PhD, who has served as department chair since 1995. Jim, a member of the National Academy of Sciences, is an internationally recognized biochemist and leader in the development of new technologies for engineering proteins and for identifying small molecules to aid drug discovery. Jim joined UCSF in 2005 as the first holder of the Harry Wm. and Diana V. Hind Distinguished Professorship in Pharmaceutical Sciences. He holds a faculty position in his home department of pharmaceutical chemistry and also holds a joint appointment in the UCSF School of Medicine's department of cellular and molecular pharmacology. Jim was the founding member of Genentech's protein engineering department. He then founded Sunesis Pharmaceuticals, where he served as president and chief scientific officer and co-invented a novel drug discovery process, called "Tethering," to efficiently screen molecules in search of the most potent compounds to block specific protein action. In welcoming Jim, I thank Tom for his perseverance, steadfast university citizenship, and tireless dedication to ensuring that our science had the physical space, new faculty talent, and graduate programs required to flourish. I thank Tom as well for his balanced advice and counsel to me and others on the School's leadership team.

New Associate Dean of Diversity and Her Malawi Blog

We must redouble our efforts to broaden the diversity of the School's faculty, staff, and students. The faculty's commitment to this goal is articulated in our new mission and our strategic plan, and recently I appointed Sharon Youmans, PharmD, MPH, to associate dean of diversity to help us drive this agenda. I can think of no one more capable of filling this role than Sharon. Sharon is a faculty member in the department of clinical pharmacy and the department's vice chair for educational affairs, and she chaired a task force on diversity that made several recommendations. Cultural diversity has been her passion. Through her practice, teaching, research and service, Sharon is already engaged in advancing and nurturing diversity with colleagues across the campus. She is also very involved in HIV research in Malawi; see her research blog at http://sharonsmalawiblog.blogspot.com/.

Honors and Awards

I share here shining examples during the past 6 months of faculty and student honors and awards.

Ken Dill, PhD, member of the department of pharmaceutical chemistry and our associate dean of research was elected to the National Academy of Sciences (NAS). Ken's election speaks to his brilliance as an international expert on theoretical approaches to determining how protein molecules fold. It also speaks to his tireless advocacy for increased science funding. Ken believes that the wellsprings for advances in drug discovery and development are to be found in the deepest reaches of academic basic science research. He fights for increased federal science funding for others because he believes in the promise of unfettered discovery. Ken joins Jim Wells, PhD, pharmaceutical chemistry department chair, as a member of the NAS.

I take this opportunity to also mention Ken's hands-on advocacy for science education. For example, Ken organized and hosted this summer a field trip at UCSF's Mission Bay campus for 20 specially selected California high school juniors and seniors who were participating in a summer course at the University of California, Davis called The Chemistry of Life. "We toured the kids around our labs, and they met our scientists. Giving aspiring scientists a chance to see science in action is critical for cultivating their enthusiasm for science," explains Ken. "We were truly delighted by the opportunity to engage with such talented and interested kids. Our future is in good hands."

I mentioned in the Fall 2007/Winter 2008 Update that UCSF School of Pharmacy faculty members were to be honored at the 2008 annual meeting of the American Pharmacists Association (APhA) this past spring. After the Update posted, the UCSF Chapter of the APhA Academy of Student Pharmacists (APhA-ASP) received the Chapter of the Year Award for achievement during the 2006-2007 academic year. It was a terrific surprise!

I am pleased to announce that our student pharmacists were the 1st-place winners of the Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy (AMCP), Student Chapter, National Pharmacy and Therapeutics Competition. Congratulations to Aimee Loucks, DeAnna Sosnowchik, Linh Nguyen, and Yoona Kim. They competed and received their award this summer at the annual AMCP meeting.

Lisa Bero, PhD, department of clinical pharmacy, was appointed by the director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) to the Advisory Committee on Health Research (CAIS/ACHR). This appointment fits well with 2 of the School's strategic plan goals: to steer policy that affects heath sciences research and to extend our work globally.

Faculty Retirements

We are beginning to experience a wave of retirements as predicted by our faculty demographics.

Ron Finley leaves after more than 25 years of exceptional service to the department of clinical pharmacy and the School. Known for his expertise in geriatrics pharmacotherapy, Ron plans on continuing his collaborations with UCSF's Memory and Aging Clinic.

Lorie Rice, MPH, joined the dean's office 18 years ago. Her relationships with pharmacy business and industry, her work as a Sacramento lobbyist, and her service on California's medical and pharmacy boards gave her a unique background, which she applied with great success as associate dean for external relations. She was also responsible for leading our health policy and administration pathway and for our required course on pharmacy law and ethics. Lorie will return to continue in these roles on a part-time basis.

Barbara Sauer, PharmD, retires after a 23-year career with the department of clinical pharmacy and the School. When she was recruited in 1985, Barb was charged with the responsibility for developing and maintaining our University of California, Davis teaching program. Along the way, she taught many courses and precepted the students assigned to the Sacramento program. As associate dean for assessment and accreditation, she led us successfully through 2 accreditation cycles. Her organization, foresight, and follow through are beyond compare. Most recently Barb was honored by our students with the Long Teaching Award. She will return, part time, to help us resolve some residual accreditation issues and transition our assessment program to other members of our faculty and staff.

In addition to his research activities, and his many contributions to the School and campus for the past 40 years, department of pharmaceutical chemistry faculty member Martin Shetlar, PhD, taught in our physical chemistry, quantum chemistry, and chemical kinetics courses. Physical chemistry courses are not often remembered fondly by students, primarily because they are heavily steeped in complex, abstract mathematical theory and formula. The same usually holds true for the instructors of these courses. Not so of Marty. His students hold him in such high esteem that they have awarded him 3 Long Prizes for Excellence in Teaching. He has also received the UCSF Campus Distinction in Teaching Award.

After 31 years, Robert Weibert, PharmD, retired as director our satellite program in the San Diego area. A UCSF graduate, Bob established the University of California, San Diego Anticoagulation Clinic. He served on many School committees and guided 4th-year pharmacy students completing their advanced practice experiences in San Diego. Students recognized Bob's dedication to their education by bestowing him with the Longs Award for Teaching Excellence.

Thank you Marty, Barb, Lorie, Ron, and Bob for more than 100 combined years of teaching, discovery, and School and campus citizenship.

With warm regards until I write again,

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.