Update from the Dean - Spring/Summer 2010

Dear UCSF School of Pharmacy Family and Friends:

I pause to write this letter as we undergo a rapid and focused change in the way we work as a campus. It is welcomed, refreshing, and invigorating, and in the midst of it all, the School is flourishing.

To put the scope of this change in better context, I begin this letter by giving you a longer-than-usual overview of campus news followed by School news. As always, I look forward to your feedback.

Fresh UCSF Leadership

Since I last wrote, we have had significant leadership changes as Chancellor Sue Desmond-Hellmann, MD, MPH, shapes her team. Transparency, good management, and accountability are core values for Sue. Her new website "breathes life" into her top 5 priorities: patients and health, discovery, education, people, and business. I urge you to visit Office of the Chancellor from time to time to follow our progress on these priorities.

Jeff Bluestone, PhD, is the new executive vice chancellor and provost charged with advancing UCSF's research and academic agendas. Jeff is candid, which fits well with our style in the School. He has vision and is committed to moving the dial. Since his appointment in March, Jeff and John Plotts, senior vice chancellor of finance and administration, have made great progress on our campuswide Operational Excellence campaign, by:

  • streamlining administrative structures,
  • transforming and consolidating our information technology,
  • cutting the number of committees and required trainings for faculty, and
  • centralizing administrative and finance activities.

As background, Jeff is one of the world's leading experts on diabetes and immune tolerance and comes to this new administrative position with more than 10 years of UCSF experience.

I am happy to report that as a result of the chancellor's determination to modernize our information technology systems, she created a new position—vice chancellor for information technology—filled by Elazar Harel, PhD, JD. Elazar has a reputation for innovation and efficiency and has already implemented remarkable upgrades to our system. He joins us from UC San Diego, where he was responsible for information technology services.

Carol Moss is the new vice chancellor for university development and alumni relations. She joined us last October from the Cleveland Clinic where she headed institutional relations and development. During her short tenure, Carol has reorganized and downsized her unit and put in place strict business standards to measure her and her team's effectiveness in making sure we have the private support needed to:

  • build a new cancer, women's, and children's hospital complex at UCSF Mission Bay,
  • build a new neurosciences building at Mission Bay, and
  • complete the Cardiovascular Research Institute.

You might recall that just a year ago Sam Hawgood, MB, BS, was officially named dean of the UCSF School of Medicine and vice chancellor for medical affairs, and that just 2 years ago John D. B. Featherstone, PhD, was appointed dean of the UCSF School of Dentistry. I mentioned in my last letter that John Plotts joined us as senior vice chancellor of finance and administration at the beginning of 2010. And, as you will recall, Sue Desmond-Hellmann, MD, MPH, was named chancellor in May 2009. I summarize these appointments to drive home the fact that our campus leadership is new and vibrant.

Leadership Transitions

Our beloved colleague Haile Debas, MD, stepped down this summer as executive director of UCSF Global Health Sciences (GHS), which he founded in 2003. He built GHS into an impressive program to train global health leaders and create sustainable solutions to improve health and eliminate disease. Haile was instrumental in creating a UC systemwide Global Health Institute and the North American Consortium of Universities in Global Health, and he remains deeply involved in our global health work. Effective September 2010, Sir Richard Feachem, PhD, is the GHS interim executive director. Sir Richard has held many influential positions, including dean of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine; director for Health Nutrition and Population at the World Bank; founding executive director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria; and under-secretary-general of the United Nations.

My close friend Kathy Dracup, RN, DNSc, FNP, FAAN, will step down at the end of September as dean of our School of Nursing after 10 years of service. Kathy has been the campus champion for interprofessional education and a national advocate for the doctorally trained nurse to fill the nation's shortage of nursing faculty. While leading the nursing school, she maintained her own large, NIH-funded research program on heart disease. She is a member of the Institute of Medicine and has received many awards, including the American Heart Association's Eugene Braunwald Award for Academic Mentorship. Ahhh, there is so much more, but suffice it to say that Kathy has been a treasured colleague whose voice I will sorely miss at the leadership table.

UCSF Economic Impact Report

This past summer, Sue released an updated UCSF Economic Impact Report based on 2008-2009 data. The results show that UCSF is a massive and vital force in our local and regional economies. Examples:

  • UCSF generates more than 39,000 jobs.
  • The campus produces an estimated $6.2 billion economic impact.
  • UCSF is the 2nd-largest employer in San Francisco and the 5th-largest in the Bay Area (5.6% of San Francisco's total employment).

This is impressive for a $3.3 billion enterprise that—while resource-limited—is clearly resourceful in making its own way. Consider that:

  • More than one-half, or $1.8 billion, of our campus funding is from the UCSF Medical Center.
  • Nearly one-half of our funding is from federal grants, mostly from the National Institutes of Health.
  • And just 6.8%—but an essential 6.8% nonetheless—of our campus revenues are from state appropriations for education.

UCSF Operations and Budget Cuts

From the list of Jeff Bluestone's initiatives above, it is not difficult to see why one critical goal shared by me and all other campus leaders is to improve how we operate. We need to function on the business side as well as we flourish on the academic side.

To this end, Sue has created 3 campus work groups, one each on:

  • Administrative and Business Efficiencies,
  • Academic and Clinical Program Efficiencies, and
  • Revenue Generation and Innovation.

I will share a bit more about the first work group, Administrative and Business Efficiencies, since I am on the executive committee. First, you need to know that UCSF faces 3 major fiscal challenges:

  1. continued cuts in state funding,
  2. increases in health care costs, and
  3. new and significant retirement costs.

The charge of the Administrative and Business Efficiencies work group is to improve how we do business on the administrative and operational side of the house, while we cut our campus budget by $28 million beginning July 1, 2010. We need this cut to make up for the September 1, 2010 end to furloughs and projected state budget reductions.

How are we doing this? We are examining best practices throughout the country in private and public enterprises, and we are meeting with groups across the campus for their suggestions. The whole campus is beginning to work more efficiently and effectively. It is not always easy to re-examine old ways of working, but we are doing it. We are focusing now on improving the ways our human resources, information technology, and research administration operations run.

This is how the numbers play out campuswide:

  • We need a $28 million cut.
  • $10 million of that is being absorbed by increases in education fees, leaving us $18 million to cut.
  • $9 million of that $18 million is being cut from the chancellor's office.
  • Over $6 million is being given to the campus by the UCSF Medical Center to lower the liability of the 4 schools to about $3 million total.

Sue has led the way in cuts and increased efficiencies in her immediate office and the operations that report to her. She has acknowledged that state funds assigned to the schools must be preserved to support our education mission. The schools are now looking at how we will retool. I am very optimistic that we will achieve a much-needed change in our campus business models.

UCSF Physical and Program Plans

As we trim budgets, we are nevertheless able to expand physically because of different funding sources and exceptional private support.

The new UCSF Osher Center for Integrative Medicine is quickly rising across the street from UCSF Mount Zion Medical Center. The amazing Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regeneration Medicine and Stem Cell Research towers above my parking space behind the School of Nursing building on Parnassus. A new UCSF Medical Center complex is taking shape at UCSF Mission Bay along with the neurosciences and cardiovascular institute buildings. Since I last wrote, we received an extraordinary gift of $100 million from Marc and Lynne Benioff, and we were pleased to name our future hospital at UCSF Mission Bay in their honor.

The School in Context

How do campus developments impact our School? And what other forces affect us in particular? Again, I take the time and space here to give you the bigger picture, knowing that this Update letter will run long.

The chancellor's decision not to assign an across-the-board cut to the schools provided us with a huge reprieve from what would surely have resulted in negative impacts to both our PhD graduate and PharmD professional programs. For this, I am deeply thankful.

As space in buildings at UCSF Mission Bay becomes available, our basic science department chairs—Kathy Giacomini, PhD, Sarah Nelson, PhD, and Jim Wells, PhD—have been successful in working with their colleagues in the School of Medicine to establish joint searches for faculty members whose research aligns with the work in these buildings. Consequently, our newest faculty hires have ample start-up packages, and they are working in the most modern spaces, surrounded by scientists and clinicians focused on new ways to treat diseases. These multidisciplinary teams aim to bring our discoveries to patients more quickly.

Of course, our School fundraising work, led by our senior development officer, Marie Parfitt Pattie, is becoming more and more critical to the School's future. The good news is that during this past fiscal year—in spite of lean economic times—our donors have been ever more generous. This show of support could not have come at a more auspicious time.

Meanwhile, the current economy and the huge growth in the number of schools of pharmacy have created road bumps for our student pharmacists and pharmacy school graduates. Internship positions for 1st- and 2nd-year professional students are hard to come by, and a few 2nd-year students have been unsuccessful in finding places to fulfill their internship hour requirements for eventual licensure.

73% of our PharmD graduates applied last year for residencies, which is the highest percentage of any pharmacy school in the nation. And while three-quarters of our students were matched with their preferred residency programs, 20 students in the Class of 2010 were not. Nationally, because there are so many new schools and graduates, applications to residency programs increased 16% in 2010, and after the match of applicants with programs, more than 1,000 students nationwide were looking at 150 open residency positions.

I put out a call to our alumni for open residency positions to assist our students who were seeking residencies; I was gratified that so many alumni responded. Thanks to this support and the quality of our graduates, a majority of our students were able to find residency opportunities.

Jobs for all health professionals have been squeezed as our citizens have lost health insurance coverage, plans for retirement have been delayed, and chain store operations have slowed expansion. This situation likely spurred more students to apply for residencies as well.

Happily, all of the 111 (95.7%) 2010 PharmD graduates who responded to our Graduate Placement Survey found opportunities:

  • 66 (60.5%) are residents
  • 32 (29.4%) have jobs—all in California
  • 5 are in fellowships (4.2%)
  • 1 is pursuing another degree
  • 4 are pursuing "other opportunities"

New and Departing Faculty Members

Since I last wrote, we have welcomed 2 inspiring, new faculty members.

Xiaokun Shu, PhD, is a physicist and now a faculty member in our Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry. Xiaokun comes to us from a postdoctoral position in the lab of Nobel Prize-winning Roger Tsien, PhD, at UCSD. Xiaokun grew up in China, where he earned undergraduate and MS degrees in physics after which he earned his PhD in biophysics from the University of Oregon. He is interested in structure-based protein design and applying protein engineering to structural biology. One of his goals is to genetically engineer encoded probes for multicolor whole-body imaging. Simply put, Xiaokun is studying how to use fluorescence in the infrared spectrum to see deep inside body tissues.

Tina Brock, BSPharm, MS, EdD, is an expert in using technology to improve health outcomes and education and has a great deal of experience in the international health arena. She joins the Department of Clinical Pharmacy. Tina earned a doctorate degree in education from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and an MS in pharmaceutical science and a BS in pharmacy from the University of Mississippi. She will develop our research in the "scholarship of teaching" as we look to critically test and assess how we teach and employ new teaching methods and technologies.

While new faculty members arrive, others leave or retire as is the nature of academia. I share with you news of a bittersweet departure. Ken Dill, PhD, our associate dean of research and a faculty member in the Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, has accepted a position at Stony Brook, State University of New York to set up a new Institute for Computational Physical Biology. Ken is a leader in sequence-to-structure prediction and bringing rigorous physical chemical principles to biological problems. The financial assurance offered by Stony Brook will allow Ken the freedom to pursue blue-sky research at the physical chemistry-biology interface. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Ken, and unfortunately one we could not match here at UCSF. We wish Ken well and look forward to partnering with him at Stony Brook.

Faculty Honors and Awards

Joe Guglielmo, PharmD, was honored on campus in May as the 2010 recipient of the UCSF Lifetime Achievement in Mentoring Award for his outstanding mentorship of residents and faculty. Joe is the chair of our Department of Clinical Pharmacy and a clinical pharmacist known nationally for his leadership in the best use of antimicrobial medications. As a mentor, Joe has shown many learners the importance of widely acknowledging the success of others, leveraging the success of a single person or program for the success of many, and balancing work and home life. He serves as a role model for us all.

Kent Olson, MD, medical director of the San Francisco Division of the California Poison Control System, which is administered by our Department of Clinical Pharmacy, will receive in October the 2010 Matthew J. Ellenhorn Award from the American College of Medical Toxicology. The award goes to an individual who has made extraordinary contributions to the field of medical toxicology. Congratulations to Kent.

The American College of Clinical Pharmacy (ACCP) will honor Kathy Giacomini, PhD, co-chair, Department of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences, with the 2010 Therapeutic Frontiers Lecture, during the October annual ACCP meeting in Austin, Texas. The award shines the light on an outstanding, internationally recognized scientist whose research is actively extending pharmacotherapy into new frontiers. Kathy is a leader worldwide in the pharmacogenomics of membrane transporters.

Michael Fischbach, PhD, Department of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences, is one of two recipients of the 2010 Young Investigator Grant for Probiotics Research. The announcement was made in August 2010 by The Global Products Council, which funds the program to contribute to the advancement of probiotics and gastrointestinal microbiota research in the United States. Michael's research project is entitled A Gene-to-Model Approach to Discovering New Antibiotics from Probiotic Bacteria.

Members of our School faculty were named by the San Francisco Business Times in April 2010 as among 14 key women in science research and education at UCSF:

  • Kathy Giacomini, PhD, co-chair, Department of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences (BTS), is an expert in how our genetic profiles influence how we respond to drugs.
  • Sarah Nelson, PhD, department co-chair with Kathy, is a leader in developing sophisticated imaging tools to improve disease diagnosis and treatment.
  • Tejal Desai, PhD, BTS department, is an expert in developing microtechnologies and nanotechnologies to improve the treatment of disease.

I am proud to join this group as the fourth of our faculty named by the publication.

Ken Dill, PhD, Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, received the 53rd UCSF Academic Senate Research Lectureship for his distinguished contributions to science in the area of protein folding. Ken solved the longtime mystery of the physical mechanism by which proteins adopt their native structures. He delivered a formal lecture to the UCSF community in April 2010 in Genentech Hall at UCSF Mission Bay.

C.C. Wang, PhD, Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, who is an expert in drug discovery targeting parasitic diseases, received in July 2010 an Honorary Doctorate in Science from the National Yang-Ming University in Taiwan. For his pioneering studies in the field of protein engineering, Jim Wells, PhD, chair of the Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, received in April 2010 the prestigious 2010 ASBMB-Merck Award at The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology annual meeting in Anaheim, California. Jim's pharmaceutical chemistry department colleague, Charly Craik, PhD, has been elected to a 5-year position as an Expert Member of the Committee for Biologics and Biotechnology, U.S. Pharmacopeia. And Jeff Lansman, PhD, from the School of Medicine, who teaches anatomy to our student pharmacists, is a 2010 American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy Teacher of the Year.

New Master's Program in Translational Science

Tejal Desai, PhD, Department of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences, along with Matthew Tirrell, PhD, chair of UC Berkeley's Department of Bioengineering, will co-direct a new 2-year master's degree program in translational medicine. The program was the idea of former Intel Corporation Chief Executive Andy Grove who pledged $1.5 million to UCSF and UC Berkeley to launch the joint program. The kind of clinical scientist to emerge from this program is much needed—researchers trained from day one in the art and science of transforming discoveries into improved patient care.

PharmD Students

Our PharmD students continue to shine.

As an example, two of our 4th-year student pharmacists, Jenn Murphy and Rachelle Bermingham, won the Student National Pharmaceutical Association (SNPhA) clinical skills competition at SNPhA's annual meeting in July in Seattle, Washington. They competed against dozens of teams from across the country as they tackled a complicated critical care patient case.

The most recent winners of our Pathway Project Awards demonstrate the academic caliber of our students. As you might know, each of our students chooses to pursue one of 3 curricular pathways in our doctor of pharmacy program. Each pathway, in turn, requires an extensive research project, and each year we recognize one project per pathway with an award for excellence.

In their pharmaceutical care project, Calvin Chan, Tom Yih-Ming Chi, Rena Leong, and Marie Yu, identified 3 categories of high-risk medications—anti-neoplastic agents, warfarin, and opioid products—that were linked to 30-day readmissions for patients discharged from the UC Davis Medical Center. In her winning health policy and management project, Wendy Sui looked at the impact of a special program in which health providers aimed to enhance medication adherence and blood pressure control among Blue Shield of California patients. Diment Singh's winning pharmaceutical sciences project looked at a single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) mutant of the OAT3 transporter and its effect on uptake of the cephalosporin antibiotic cefotaxime.

In the midst of these and other successes, we stood still this summer to reflect on the death of one of our 4th-year student pharmacists. Olga Beyn died Saturday, July 31, 2010, as the result of a whitewater rafting accident on the Kings River in Fresno, California. She was a bright and shining student, and we miss her.


We continue to have major success in the research arena. I have room here to share just a few examples.

Esteban González Burchard, MD, MPH, Department of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences, received an enormous amount of attention with the release of his paper on the genetic ancestry of lung function. According to Esteban, "This study provides new evidence that genetic ancestry correlates to physiologic measures, and with it, we're one step closer to personalized medicine." The study was published July 7, 2010 in The New England Journal of Medicine. It is the largest of its kind to date, spanning 12 research centers and pooling data on more than 3,000 African-American patients.

At the March meeting of the American Chemical Society held in San Francisco, Danica Galonić Fujimori, PhD, Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, revealed research results of a radical approach employed by bacteria to alter their ribosomes and thereby evade antibiotics. These findings could ultimately lead to the development of ways to block this enzymatic transformation. A highlight of her presentation appeared in Chemical and Engineering News, March 24, 2010.

To demonstrate the breadth of science under way in our Department of Clinical Pharmacy, consider the July paper in the Journal of Medical Toxicology by Tom Kearney, PharmD, and colleagues who identified patient risk factors for drug-induced seizures. Or look at the paper by Christine Cheng, PharmD, on black box warnings that appeared in the May issue of Archives of Internal Medicine. A major finding of Christine's work is that no official boxed-warning registry currently exists, creating institutional challenges toward establishing appropriate warning systems for prescribers. Specifically, she found that no single reference source reliably and completely includes all medication black box warnings.


This past May, Dan Santi, MD, PhD, our associate dean of external scientific affairs, assembled a stellar team of senior industry scientists for a public symposium on Pharmaceuticals for the Future: Case Histories in the Discovery and Development of Novel Therapeutics. The meeting was held at UCSF Mission Bay, and the Byers Auditorium venue was completely full. The program was an eye-opener about industry successes and failures. One of the goals of our research, as I shared in my last Update, is to have meaningful and sustainable scientific partnerships with local biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies as one important way of helping our science help patients.

A recent and good example of how we are succeeding comes from the lab of Jim Wells, PhD, chair of our Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry. Jim announced in February that UCSF's Small Molecule Discovery Center (SMDC), which he created in 2005 and directs, signed its first major industry partnership agreement. It is with Genentech, Inc., to discover and develop drug candidates for neurodegenerative diseases.

Under the leadership of Bill Soller, PhD, and Ellie Vogt, RPh, PhD, our Center for Self Care is deeply involved in a diabetes medication management pilot program, in partnership with the California Public Employees' Retirement System, Raley's grocery store pharmacies, and Blue Shield of California. This program aims to better control type 2 diabetes and is based on the Center's successful research results in other settings where patients with diabetes benefited from regular consultations with pharmacists. This partnership program was highlighted in an August 13, 2010 article in The New York Times, entitled "Pharmacists Take a Larger Role on Health Team."

As you have read, major and rapid changes are under way at UCSF to improve the way we operate. These changes are essential, and I am confident that the School of Pharmacy will emerge in a better position to excel. In the meantime, we are steadily moving forward as we address our School's 3 strategic goals 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. Work in fresh and collaborative ways to shape the future of pharmacy science, policy, education, and patient care.

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.