Update from the Dean - Fall 2012

Dear UCSF School of Pharmacy Family and Friends:

As I prepare this update as interim dean, the School is in the midst of major transitions, yet boldly moving forward. Of course, one of the most significant changes is the retirement of our dean of 14 years, Mary Anne Koda-Kimble, PharmD, whose always-positive, can-do spirit marked her approach to everything she touched. Mary Anne left a lasting legacy of accomplishment and a well-positioned School as we search for the next dean.

Faculty Retreat

In an all-faculty retreat on September 10, we reviewed the many School and campus initiatives. Topics ranged from the UCSF Long Range Development Plan to our PharmD professional and PhD graduate degree programs and proposed steps for their sustained success.

Chancellor Susan Desmond-Hellmann, MD, MPH, reviewed the new UCSF governance structure she proposed to the UC Regents last January. As part of this restructuring, the chancellor will form an external chancellor's advisory committee to assist with UCSF's financial and academic future. She reminded the faculty that these changes are intended to give UCSF—because of its uniqueness within the UC system—the flexibility to succeed, and that UCSF is and will remain a committed member of the UC system. She shared the goal to brand the campus, uniting all elements of our diverse community and strengthening our name in the minds of external audiences. This branding will facilitate research and clinical partnerships and optimize future fundraising campaigns.

In fall 2013 a team from the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE) will visit our campus to review our PharmD degree program. To this end Mitra Assemi, PharmD, associate dean of accreditation and quality improvement, shared a comprehensive overview of PharmD program accreditation to ensure the faculty's understanding of the process, changes in accreditation standards, and our accreditation timeline.

We shared the initial results of our 2007-2012 School of Pharmacy strategic plan, Pressing Ahead in New Directions. They are impressive and will be highlighted in future correspondence. Considering we are in the midst of a national search for a new dean, the School of Pharmacy Faculty Council voted to extend our current plan through December 2013. The extension will give the new dean time to collaboratively develop a new plan with the faculty.

Since the launch of our plan, we have expanded our focus from drugs to therapeutics, including medications, medical devices, and diagnostic tests. We see a time when precise therapeutics, used safely and effectively, improve the health of people everywhere, and we are working intently toward this future.

As a reminder, our three current strategic plan goals are to:

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

A retreat highlight was the standing ovation for our beloved associate dean, Robert Day, PharmD, who left the School at the end of June after 50 years on the faculty. Bob was a visionary with exceptional insights and ideas for innovation, who always supported the School by his words and deeds. Uniquely, he kept alive the School's history through scores of authored alumni newsletters and his remarkable recall of School stories and personalities. Over the years, Bob amassed a collection of historical School documents and artifacts, which he has generously donated to the Archives and Special Collections at the UCSF Library. Those materials are now being catalogued, and this spring The Robert Day Collection will be unveiled through a special library web portal and library exhibit. An extensive oral history in Bob's words will be a key feature of the collection.

Recent research

I present here details of both faculty publications and research funding since the last Update from the Dean. The examples below, which range from mass spectrometry to patient education, demonstrate the breadth of our science across the therapeutics landscape.

Recent faculty publications

First, here is a glimpse of recent faculty publications:

In late April, a day-long symposium of speakers from around the world celebrated the 75th birthday of Al Burlingame, PhD, Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, and his many contributions to mass spectrometry. The gathering at the Mission Bay campus included colleagues and collaborators, along with former PhD students and postdoctoral fellows. The symposium focused on proteomics, the study of the structure and function of protein molecules inside cells, an area Al helped pioneer.

While marking this milestone, Al didn't break stride. He has co-authored 10 published papers since then, including a July 2012 study in Cell that analyzed 200,000 post-translational modifications (PTMs) across 11 species. PTMs are the dynamic alteration and regulation of protein molecules by enzyme-added chemical groups. Study findings suggested that only a fraction of modification sites are likely to have significant biological roles. This kind of basic research, embodied in the study's searchable online resource of mass-spectrometry-identified PTMs and their predicted functions, could help narrow the hunt for key drug targets.

The Small Molecule Discovery Center (SMDC) provided a key assist to researchers seeking to improve treatment for amoebic dysentery, which affects up to 50 million people worldwide with up to 70,000 deaths annually. In the June 2012 issue of Nature Medicine, SMDC Associate Director for Biology Michelle Arkin, PhD, Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, reported that an inexpensive, off-patent drug for rheumatoid arthritis is 10 times more potent than the current standard treatment. Michelle worked with colleagues in the UCSF Sandler Center for Drug Discovery to develop a high-throughput (fast, simultaneous, automated) screen of hundreds of potential drugs.

Xin Chen, PhD, Department of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences, co-authored a report in the August 2012 issue of The Journal of Clinical Investigation that revealed a surprising, previously unknown cause for cholangiocarcinoma, a lethal cancer of the bile duct. Her research revealed that activation of two particular genes caused liver cells to change identities, transforming them into cells that line the bile duct, leading to cancer. Drugs targeting those genes or their products could yield new therapies.

A paper in the August 2012 issue of AIDS Patient Care and STDs, co-authored by Jennifer Cocohoba, PharmD, Department of Clinical Pharmacy, myself, and others, examined whether community pharmacies with specially trained pharmacists and specialized services for HIV/AIDS patients had an impact on patient adherence to their antiretroviral medications. This issue looms especially large with anti-HIV drugs because the regimens can be complex, associated with major side effects, and their suboptimal use can lead to viral resistance. The study, undertaken with collaborators at Walgreen Co., compared HIV-specialized community pharmacies with traditional sites, tracking data for more than 7,000 patients served by each type of pharmacy in nine cities from seven states. Significantly more patients served by the HIV-specialized pharmacies followed their regimens day-to-day (adherence) and continuously maintained therapy (persistence).

Some public health campaigns seek to reduce smoking by changing public attitudes toward the tobacco industry. These programs reveal how tobacco companies manipulate consumers by equating disease-causing products with hipness and youthful rebellion. But are they effective? A paper in Tobacco Control in March 2012, co-authored by Lisa Bero, PhD, Department of Clinical Pharmacy, systematically reviewed 60 studies of such "tobacco industry denormalization" campaigns. Conducted with colleagues in the UCSF School of Nursing, this analysis found "robust evidence" that exposure to such campaigns reduced smoking prevalence among young adults, reduced the number of youths starting to smoke, and increased intentions to quit.

Recently received research funding

And here is a look at recently received research funding:

Katherine Yang, PharmD, MPH, Department of Clinical Pharmacy, received a five-year, $1.96-million R01 grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). She has assembled a multidisciplinary team to develop new antibiotic regimens for killing bacteria when they aggregate into antibiotic-resistant biofilms. Her research targets P. aeruginosa infections associated with cystic fibrosis. Current antibiotic dosing strategies are based on how the drugs act on bacterial growth in liquid cultures, not biofilms. However, the latter account for more than 80 percent of important infections. Bacterial biofilms are nearly impossible to eradicate with conventional antibiotic dosing.

Nadav Ahituv, PhD, Department of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences, has received a four-year, $1.1-million NIH EUREKA grant to study whether mutations in gene regulatory elements—DNA segments that instruct genes—are a cause of infantile spasms (an early-onset epilepsy) as well as other forms of seizure disorders. Nadav's goals are to understand how gene regulation works—or fails to work—in the developing brain, and to develop a genome-based diagnosis of infantile spasms. The latter goal could allow for better-tailored and faster application of effective medication treatments. Such speed is crucial, since infantile seizures interfere with normal brain development.

James Wells, PhD, chair of the Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, has received five-year, $3.5-million NIH U54 funding, as well as a $600,000 shared instrumentation grant, to establish the UCSF Antibiome Center. Along with department colleague Charles S. Craik, PhD, and James Marks, MD, PhD, Jim is assembling an automated "production factory" that, with facilities at the Universities of Chicago and Toronto (a consortium dubbed the Recombinant Antibody Network), can make antibodies that selectively bind to all of the approximately 1,500 human transcription factors. These are proteins that bind to DNA sequences (like the gene regulatory elements that Nadav is studying) and control the flow of genetic information that generates new proteins inside cells. The Network's antibodies will be a resource for all researchers interested in transcription factors and gene regulation, diagnostic tools, and new drugs.

Not to rest on his laurels, Al Burlingame, PhD, Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, received a $1.1-million, one-year grant from the Adelson Medical Research Foundation (AMRF) to provide the proteomics platform for the foundation's program in neural repair and rehabilitation. The platform results in tailored combinations of mass spectrometry technologies and software to "identify proteins that work together to maintain normal [nerve] cell function as well as to decipher the nature of molecules that underlie repair processes." An additional one-year grant of $83,000 will provide a proteomics platform for AMRF's program in cancer research.


We were very fortunate, since the last Update from the Dean, to receive three major gifts in support of our faculty and innovation.

John and Marcia Goldman Foundation: The Kidney Project

A gift of $750,000 from the John and Marcia Goldman Foundation is fueling research behind The Kidney Project, led by Shuvo Roy, PhD, Department of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences. Shuvo has brought together researchers at nine institutions nationwide to create the first implantable bioartificial kidney. As recently highlighted in national publications, there is a major unmet medical need in the treatment of end stage renal disease (ESRD), also known as chronic kidney failure. The Goldman Foundation gift will facilitate the project's goal of entering clinical trials by 2017. The gift is the largest philanthropic support to date for the endeavor, which has also drawn funding from the NIH, other federal agencies, and individuals around the world. Shuvo estimates that The Kidney Project will require an additional $13 million in funding to reach the clinical trial milestone. We sincerely thank John and Marcia Goldman, and the foundation that bears their name, for their generous support.

Harry W. Hind Request: Troy C. Daniels Distinguished Professorship

Before his death in April at age 96, leading School benefactor Harry W. Hind—an alumnus, prize-winning inventor, and philanthropist—requested that a distinguished professorship be established in memory of School of Pharmacy Dean Troy C. Daniels, PhD, and that it be held by each successive dean of the School. A gift was made, and a $4 million endowment was established. This is the largest faculty position endowment in the School's history. The Troy C. Daniels Distinguished Professorship will support the School's national leadership among pharmacy schools and its highest priorities in teaching, research, and public service. With the culmination of the national search, the new School of Pharmacy dean will be named as the first holder of the Daniels Professorship. Harry's commitment to the School is indeed a lasting legacy, and we are sincerely grateful.

The Joseph and Vera Long Foundation: Mary Anne Koda-Kimble Seed Award for Innovation

The Joseph and Vera Long Foundation has pledged $1 million to endow the Mary Anne Koda-Kimble Seed Award for Innovation. This award is in recognition of Mary Anne's distinguished 43-year career at UCSF. The award will support innovative projects by School of Pharmacy faculty members, students, and staff that move the mission of the School forward in new and exciting ways. Likely projects will generally be those for which there is no ready or traditional source of funding. For its lasting commitment to innovation, we sincerely thank The Joseph and Vera Long Foundation.


PharmD students

We welcomed our incoming PharmD class of 2016 on October 12 at a special white coat induction ceremony. Here are just a few statistics regarding this distinguished group of first-year students:

  • There were 1,406 applicants for 122 positions.
  • 20 percent of the class is from groups that are historically underrepresented in pharmacy, up from 14 percent last year.
  • Every student in the class holds a bachelor's degree; seven students hold master's or doctorate degrees.
  • 86 percent of the class is from California.
  • 65 percent of the class graduated from the University of California, and 16 percent graduated from the California State University system.
  • Students come from varied backgrounds and with a wide range of experiences. There is a cellist, an equestrian competitor, and a college soccer team captain. Our students were born in China, Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, Kenya, the Philippines, Russia, South Korea, Taiwan, the United States, and Vietnam.

Congratulations to Matthew Chang and Kathryn Alvarez, winners of the 2012 Clinical Skills Competition at this summer's meeting of the Student National Pharmaceutical Association in Las Vegas, Nevada. The competition is performed in teams of two, and each team is given a patient case to evaluate. The teams then provide appropriate assessment, recommend an effective drug therapy regimen, and conduct appropriate counseling. It is an intense, highly competitive experience, and Matthew and Kathryn clearly excelled.

PhD students

Two Chemistry and Chemical Biology (CCB) PhD students were finalists in the Deloitte QB3 Award for Innovation competition. The award recognizes a scientific innovator who has conducted relevant research at UC campuses in Berkeley, Santa Barbara, or San Francisco. Graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and staff researchers (or teams) are eligible. CCB's Rand Miller and Iana Serafimova and three UCSF colleagues developed a new method that could lead to improved small molecule therapeutics as well as more rapid development of novel drugs.

Faculty Honors and Awards

Our faculty members were honored many times over during the past six months. Here are but a few examples:

Peter Ambrose, PharmD, Department of Clinical Pharmacy, a veteran clinician and educator, was named 2012 Pharmacist of the Year by the California Society of Health-Systems Pharmacists. Award recipients must have made "significant and sustained contributions to pharmacy practice in California," and Peter certainly has. He has taught pharmacokinetics to our students for 30 years. He is an expert in drug testing policies and procedures in sports, and has shared his expertise at state, national, and international competitions, including the Olympic Games in Atlanta, Sydney, and Beijing.

Xiaokun Shu, PhD, Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, is the recipient of the 2012 NIH Director's New Innovator award, which will provide up to $1.5 million in research funding over the next five years. Xiaokun will develop a new technology to identify dynamic interactions among proteins in human cells, a process that can be difficult to detect via current techniques but which plays a vital role in health and disease. This marks the third year in a row that a young School faculty member has won this highly selective funding, designed "to support exceptionally creative new investigators who propose highly innovative projects that have the potential for unusually high impact." Previous School awardees include Bo Huang, PhD, Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, and Michael Fischbach, PhD, Department of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences.

Sarah Nelson, PhD, co-chair, Department of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences, is the winner of the 2012 Outstanding Faculty Mentorship Award given by the UCSF Graduate Students' Association and the Graduate Division Alumni Association. The goal of the award is to "recognize and show appreciation for UCSF faculty members … who consistently provide exceptional support, both professionally and personally."

Shuvo Roy, PhD, Department of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences, has been elected as a member of the BayBio Pantheon, a group of 52 Northern California life sciences leaders who have made a significant contribution to the industry. As I wrote above, Shuvo is leading a national research project to create the first implantable bioartificial kidney to address end stage renal disease. The award recognizes Shuvo's efforts as "work that is too uncommon" in tackling both a medical need and a cost problem at the same time.

For his strong leadership internationally and contributions to the advancement of the pharmaceutical sciences, the International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP) awarded Leslie Benet, PhD, Department of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences, with the 2012 FIP Honorary Member Award.


Campuswide, the pace has not let up since the last Update from the Dean. Here are just three highlights.

On October 8, The Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institute in Sweden awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine or Physiology jointly to Shinya Yamanaka, MD, PhD, and John B. Gurdon, PhD, for the discovery that mature cells can be reprogrammed to become pluripotent. Shinya is a senior investigator at the UCSF-affiliated Gladstone Institutes and a faculty member in the Department of Anatomy, UCSF School of Medicine. He is also director of the Center for iPS Cell Research and Application and a principal investigator at the Institute for Integrated Cell-Material Sciences, both at Kyoto University. Dr. Gurdon is with the Gurdon Institute in Cambridge, England. Shinya joins J. Michael Bishop, MD; Harold Varmus, MD; Stanley Prusiner, MD; and Elizabeth Blackburn, PhD; as the fifth UCSF faculty member to be awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.

The campus benefited this fall from the exceptional gift of $20 million from philanthropist Chuck Feeney through his foundation, The Atlantic Philanthropies. The gift will be used to build a home for UCSF Global Health Sciences at our Mission Bay campus and brings the foundation's total support of UCSF to more than $292 million.

Chancellor Susan Desmond-Hellmann, MD, MPH, presented her third State of the University Address to the campus on September 25, reviewing a number of impressive campus accomplishments, including the successful rollout of APeX (UCSF Medical Center's electronic health records system) and UCSF's receipt last year of more National Institutes of Health research funding than any other public university in the nation. For the 32nd consecutive year, the UCSF School of Pharmacy was #1 in NIH research funding among all U.S. schools of pharmacy.


I end this letter with a wonderful reminder of the potential that can be realized when communities and interdisciplinary health care teams come together. Please read the two blogs below by Sharon L. Youmans, PharmD, Department of Clinical Pharmacy, who has been traveling to Malawi for a decade to research health care and health practices related to HIV/AIDS. Malawi is one of the world's least-developed nations, with fewer than 100 pharmacists to meet the needs of 15 million people, and the insights Sharon shares are as sobering as they are uplifting.

Yours sincerely,

Guglielmo's signature

B. Joseph Guglielmo, PharmD
Professor and Interim Dean
UCSF School of Pharmacy


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.