Update from the Dean - Spring/Summer 2014

Dear UCSF School of Pharmacy Family and Friends:

Since the time of my last letter, the School has continued its dynamic progress. We initiated the first steps toward a new strategic plan, and once again we were ranked #1 in National Institutes of Health research funding among U.S. pharmacy schools. We began our blue-sky thinking toward a transformation of the Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) curriculum, kicked off UCSF’s 150th anniversary year, and prepared for the recruitment of a new chancellor.

Survey results

Before addressing the School’s latest news, I first thank you for taking the time to complete the survey I sent with the last Update from the Dean. Here are the key findings:

  • The Update is your primary information source about the School.
  • You are most interested in School plans and accomplishments, research and patient care, and faculty hires and retirements.
  • About half of you prefer print, but many of you want to receive the Update via email.
  • You prefer less frequent (e.g., quarterly to twice-annually) communications vs. more frequent (e.g., weekly/monthly).

Once we launch our new web presence (late summer/early fall this year) we will keep you informed via news features and email communications. Follow us:

Strategic planning, retreat results and education

Our new strategic plan will guide our work, resource allocations, business initiatives, and development priorities for the next five years. At an all-faculty retreat in January, we identified 15 broad objectives, which have been reviewed by the School’s Leadership Group of chairs and associate deans. We have sharpened the focus of our proposed goals and will soon share them with the faculties of each department. I will review more specifics of the strategic plan in the next Update.

One important focus of the retreat was the PharmD program, including our commitment to continuous transformation as we embrace advances in science and technology, changes in the health care marketplace, and, as you will read below, changes in the scope of pharmacy practice (SB 493). Under the direction of Vice Dean Sharon L. Youmans, PharmD, MPH, a kick-off meeting regarding the PharmD curriculum and its evolution is set for June 18.


Our research continues to thrive in all three departments. As per the latest data (2013) the UCSF School of Pharmacy receives more research funding from the National Institutes of Health than any other pharmacy school in the United States; we have been ranked #1 since 1979. The research highlighted below demonstrates why.

Recently received research funding

Arming our immune cells to fight cancer

Francis Szoka, PhD, Department of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences, received a two-year $201,235 grant from the National Cancer Institute to determine whether a patient’s own immune cells with drug-loaded nanoparticles (liposomes) can fight metastatic tumors. This personalized cancer therapy will tap two types of macrophage cells: M-1, so-called “killers” that attack pathogens and cancer cells; and M-2, which aid tissue repair and can reside in tumors, possibly enabling their growth. In testing against a mouse model of breast cancer, armed M-1 macrophages generated in Frank’s lab will carry drugs enhancing their anti-tumor activity as well as signaling proteins aimed at converting tumor-associated M-2 macrophages into cancer killers.

Developing new kinds of antibiotics to overcome drug-resistant bacteria

James Wells, PhD, chair of the Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, has received a two-year $220,814 grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases to develop a promising new class of antibacterials against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and vancomycin-resistant Enterococci (VRE). Thiopeptides, isolated from certain soil and marine bacteria, are promising because they intervene at a different ribosomal site compared with current classes of antibacterials. In this first phase, Jim and his graduate student Hai Tran, in collaboration with Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry colleague Susan Miller, PhD, and Christopher Walsh, PhD, at Harvard Medical School, will be studying the thiopeptide thiocillin. They have devised new methods to rapidly alter the genes that express potential drugs in a common Bacillus cereus bacterium, and then screen the diversified output against the resistant microbes. Typically, modifications of natural products would require a team of medicinal chemists to make even a dozen peptide variants (analogs). The system they have devised allows the generation of hundreds or thousands of derivative natural products, in a renewable fashion, to target further emerging resistance, and to screen against other bacterial and human targets.

Using genetics to predict cancer drug response

Sourav Bandyopadhyay, PhD, Department of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences, has received a $354,938 grant from the Japanese pharmaceutical company Daiichi-Sankyo as part of a larger Daiichi-UCSF alliance to find genetic markers identifying which cancer patients would best respond to Daiichi drugs now under development. As part of the effort, Sourav’s lab will expand its established panel of 50 human epithelial cell lines from normal breast tissue. These lines have individual genes that can cause cancer with mutation and/or overexpression (oncogenes). The lab will add another 20 cell lines with mutations in specific tumor suppressor genes that are commonly seen in cancers. Using high-throughput screening and robotics to measure cell proliferation, the goal is to identify which oncogenes affect the cells’ response to Daiichi’s cancer drugs (alone and in different combinations).

Recent faculty publications

Using light to open and close containers inside our cells that could transport drugs

Tanja Kortemme, PhD, Department of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences, was the senior author of a paper in Nature Nanotechnology in December. The paper describes how her lab re-engineered a protein “machine” so that it can be opened and closed with different wavelengths of light. The operation of these protein assemblies, known as chaperonins, is usually driven by the binding of the energy-transfer molecule ATP. But Tanja and Daniel Hoersch, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow in Tanja’s lab, along with their co-authors, redesigned nanoscale “cages” from a microbe, incorporating molecules at key locations that change shape and length in response to blue and ultraviolet light. The paper demonstrated that the nanocontainers, seen via electron microscope, could capture, contain, and release artificial molecular cargos precisely controlled by light. Potential impact: These prototypes could be used as protein-based containers and shuttles, possibly carrying small molecular drugs. The design may also result in potential control of other protein machines that perform complex nanoscale functions inside our cells.

Keeping molecules from activating and causing harm

Adam Renslo, PhD, and Michelle Arkin, PhD, both in the Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, co-authored a paper in ChemMedChem in January, describing the creation of small molecules that block activation of an enzyme implicated in Huntington’s and Alzheimer’s diseases. The enzyme, caspase-6, plays a key role in apoptosis—the normal destruction of defective or unneeded cells that over-occurs in neurodegenerative diseases. Given its potentially destructive role, caspase-6 is maintained in our cells in an inert form, as a proenzyme, that must be reconfigured to activate. Genentech researchers, working with Adam, Michelle, and their colleagues in the department’s Small Molecule Discovery Center (SMDC), screened thousands of small molecules for their binding to the proenzyme. Their work revealed a site on the enzyme where molecular binding keeps it in its inactive form. The researchers then combined structural analysis of that site with merging and tweaking features from the best binding molecules to improve binding strength more than 100-fold and generate drug leads for further development. Potential impact: The partnership between the department’s SMDC and Genentech to develop drug candidates to treat neurodegenerative diseases could yield an effective new strategy to block a key protein’s activation.

Ensuring proper drug use in hospital ICUs

Sherilyn Van Osdol, PharmD, and Candy Tsourounis, PharmD, both in the Department of Clinical Pharmacy, co-authored a paper in Annals of Pharmacotherapy in March, assessing an interprofessional approach at the UCSF Medical Center to reduce the overuse of proton pump inhibitors used prophylactically to prevent stress ulcers in intensive care units (ICUs). Unnecessary prescribing of these medications for low-risk patients has become common in hospitals nationwide—and the drugs are associated with increased incidence of both pneumonia and Clostridium difficile infection. Sheri’s and Candy's team of colleagues in the department's Medication Outcomes Center as well as hospital staff pharmacists, nurses, and physicians, collaboratively developed a bundled intervention that included:

  • Formulating new institutional guidelines for the use of stress ulcer prophylaxis (approved by the Medical Center’s Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee in December)
  • An education and awareness campaign (launched in January) including posters, e-mails, and presentations to clinicians
  • ICU interventions by critical care pharmacists during daily patient care rounds or via calls to prescribers, with recommendations and resulting prescriber actions documented in the electronic medical record

The results? A significant post-intervention reduction in the drugs’ inappropriate use in ICU units, and no patient discharged from the hospital with inappropriately continued prescriptions. Potential impact: A model for reducing inappropriate, risk-associated prescribing and related costs in hospitals nationwide.

Patient care

SB 493: Pharmacist provider status legislation

Lisa Kroon, PharmD, chairs a California statewide task force focused on implementing SB 493, the California State Senate Bill that expands the scope of practice of California pharmacists. The implementation of SB 493 could change the way pharmacy is practiced, especially in community settings, and catalyze a change nationwide.

The bill, signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown, took effect January 1. The new law, pending California State Board of Pharmacy-approved protocols, authorizes California-licensed pharmacists to independently provide additional services. And with additional specific certification, training, and patient treatment experience, the law also provides for an Advanced Practice Pharmacist (APP) who is authorized to:

  • Perform patient assessments
  • Order and interpret drug therapy-related tests
  • Refer patients to other health care providers
  • Participate in the evaluation and management of diseases and health conditions in collaboration with other health care providers
  • Initiate, adjust, or discontinue drug therapy—as long as the pharmacist promptly notifies the patient’s diagnosing prescriber in writing or enters the information in a patient record system shared with the primary care provider

SB 493 clearly declares pharmacists to be health care providers. Payment for these professional pharmacy services remains an unanswered question, one that must be addressed at the federal level in relation to Medicare reimbursement and in other patient care models, such as Accountable Care Organizations or Patient-centered Medical Homes. Progress will be reported in future Updates; for now, this is a tremendous opportunity for the profession.

Walgreens at UCSF

On February 25, we celebrated the official grand opening of Walgreens at UCSF, a contemporary store whose physical layout truly emphasizes the patient. As background, Walgreens and UCSF—the School of Pharmacy and Medical Center—embarked in 2013 on two agreements:

  1. A lease agreement for a new-concept, patient-centered pharmacy at UCSF
  2. A partnership agreement—including research, education, and patient care—focused on developing new evidence-based models of improved pharmacy patient care in the community

As part of our patient care partnership with Walgreens we are running a MedList Clinic, where a faculty pharmacist, along with pharmacy students, reviews a patient’s complete medication regimen by appointment. The pharmacist produces an accurate, accessible, and comprehensive medication list, with complete use instructions, for the patient and provider. The list can be on paper, uploaded to the web, put on a thumb drive—or all three. Faculty members Marilyn Stebbins, PharmD, Jennifer Cocohoba, PharmD and Kirby Lee, PharmD, all from the Department of Clinical Pharmacy, are the key program drivers at this point.

Our specialized Medicare Part D counseling expertise has prepared us well for this work. You will remember that Marilyn and department faculty colleague Helene Levens Lipton, PhD were the co-principal investigators who developed the statewide Partners in D program, funded by The Amgen Foundation, to help underserved seniors get the most from the Medicare Prescription Drug Coverage program (known as Medicare Part D), which launched in 2006. That expertise is carrying forward in the MedList Clinic.

Safeway partnership

Led by Robin Corelli, PharmD, vice chair for professional affairs in the Department of Clinical Pharmacy, the School partnered with Safeway to determine the efficacy of two training approaches (written vs. written plus live training) toward encouraging pharmacists and technicians to ask patients about tobacco use, with documentation in the pharmacy profile. Using a prospective, randomized trial design in 20 stores, combination training was significantly superior to written training. More than 15,000 patients were asked about tobacco use and more than 1,100 received smoking cessation counseling. The program will now be rolled out at 1,400 Safeway pharmacies. Robin presented results of the study at the 2014 American Pharmacists Association (APhA) annual meeting in Florida in March.


Bringing light to protein shape

Congratulations to biophysicist James Fraser, PhD, Department of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences, on being named a 2014 Searle Scholar. James’ laboratory will be awarded $300,000 in funding over the next three years to support his research toward precisely describing how protein molecules change shape to carry out their essential functions in our bodies. His primary research tool will be a new light source that is a billion times brighter than the most powerful previous sources, according to Stanford University’s National Accelerator Laboratory where it is based.

Building mammary tissue

Zev Gartner, PhD, Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, received a 2013 National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director’s New Innovator Award. The award will provide his lab with up to $1.5 million in research funding over the next five years. Zev will use the funding to develop a revolutionary new way to build 3D human tissue for studying basic biology and testing therapeutics. Specifically, Zev plans to build a functional human mammary gland, providing insight into how normal human tissues assemble themselves during development, and, conversely, how they break down in diseases such as breast cancer.

Professional association honors

One current faculty member and three noted School alumni received honors and awards during the APhA Annual Meeting. Congratulations to all for the richly deserved recognition.

  • Phillip R. Oppenheimer, PharmD, ’72 (residency ‘73), dean of the University of the Pacific's Thomas J. Long School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, is the APhA 2014 Outstanding Dean.
  • Pam (Salas) Schweitzer, PharmD, ’87, is the recipient of the Distinguished Federal Pharmacist Award. Pam serves as a captain in the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps.
  • Theodore G. Tong, PharmD, FAPhA, ’69, associate dean of academic and student affairs at the University of Arizona College of Pharmacy, is the Honorary President of APhA.
  • Tina Penick Brock, BSPharm, MS, EdD, Department of Clinical Pharmacy and associate dean of global health and educational innovations, is now a fellow of the APhA Academy of Pharmaceutical Research and Science (APhA-APRS).

New holders of endowed chairs

Timothy Cutler, PharmD, Department of Clinical Pharmacy, now holds the Divine Family Endowed Chair in Clinical Pharmacy. Philmore Divine, ’45, and his wife Bernie were lifelong supporters of the School. They established the Divine Family Fund to support students and planned a bequest to fund the Divine Family Endowed Chair. This chair supports the research, teaching, and service activities of the holder related to clinical pharmacy. Phil co-founded Drug Service, Inc., a wholesale distribution company that would revolutionize drug ordering and distribution for pharmacists. He did the same for hospitals when he started a similar business with partners Robert Murphy and Ernest Prien, ’34. Tim shares this entrepreneurial spirit, as demonstrated by his intense involvement with the Partners in D program I mentioned above. Building on this spirit, Tim will be assessing the pharmacist scope of practice in ambulatory care settings across all University of California Medical Centers. His goal is to determine pharmacy-specific metrics that can be used across the UC system.

Lisa Kroon, PharmD, chair of the Department of Clinical Pharmacy, now holds the Thomas A. Oliver Endowed Chair in Clinical Pharmacy. Tom was a pharmacy graduate of the Class of 1939 who established a planned gift to support a holder committed to bettering the profession of pharmacy through education and research, and through the delivery of clinical services to the greater community. Lisa does all of this and more. Most recently, she was instrumental in the formation of the research and education partnership with Walgreens at UCSF, which I mentioned above. And, as also I stated earlier, she now chairs a California statewide task force focused on the implementation of SB 493.

Student honors

We congratulate our stellar UCSF team as the first-place winners of the 14th Annual National Student Pharmacist Pharmacy & Therapeutics Competition held at the annual Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy conference in Tampa, Florida in April. Their achievement is a tribute to the spectacular mentorship of faculty member Glenn Yokoyama, PharmD, Department of Clinical Pharmacy. Our winning student pharmacist team: Edna Cheung (P1); Randal Du (P3); Isabel Fong (P1); and Thomas Lee (P2).

30 Under 30

UCSF Chemistry and Chemical Biology (CCB) PhD alumnus and postdoctoral scholar Jonathan Ostrem, PhD, is on Forbes magazine’s January 2014 30 Under 30 in Science and Healthcare list for his work in blocking one form of a protein associated with cancer, while avoiding disruption of the needed form of the protein. The Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry administers the CCB program.

Accreditation status

I am pleased to report that in January our Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) program was reaccredited for another eight years (2022) by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education. The accreditation process is long and enlightening; the insights we gained during the process were immense. We are now looking into the future to craft a new PharmD program to meet the changing needs of a new health care environment. On a related note, our first-year pharmacy practice residency was reaccredited in April, by the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, for six years (2020).

UCSF anniversary

With the celebration of Founder’s Day on April 10, the campus kicked off the year-long celebration of the 150th anniversary of its beginnings, marked by the founding of Toland Medical College and quickly enriched by the founding of the College of Pharmacy (1872) and its sister schools. Mary Anne Koda-Kimble, PharmD, our emeritus dean, is chairing the UCSF 150th Anniversary Celebration Committee. Leslie Benet, PhD, Department of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences, is co-chairing the History and Public Exhibits Subcommittee, and Susan Levings, MS, Dean’s Office, serves on the Sesquicentennial Operating Committee. Please visit the anniversary website for details of campus activities during this historic year, with the theme “Only UCSF.”

School of Pharmacy history

We are chronicling the School’s history as a feature of our new web presence under construction. The work was inspired and enabled by alumnus and emeritus Associate Dean Robert Day, PharmD, who made a generous donation of his collection of historical School photos, manuscripts, and artifacts to the UCSF Library’s Archives and Special Collections.

Do not miss the eight-part YouTube video of Bob Day discussing individual School historical items in his office, as he turned them over to the archives: www.youtube.com/user/ucsfpharmacy

For each department, a former chair is writing the department’s history. Thomas James, PhD, has already completed the history of the Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry. Leslie Benet, PhD, is working on the history of the Department of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences, and Eric (Toby) Herfindal, PharmD, is addressing the Department of Clinical Pharmacy history. We are planning a schoolwide 150th anniversary event in late spring, 2015.


Focusing on UCSF’s 150th anniversary, the May 29–31, 2014 Alumni Weekend promises to be one of the best ever. If you have any questions about this year’s Alumni Weekend: email or call our director of alumni relations, Rachel Katsuura: 415-502-1887, [email protected].

On Friday morning, Robin Corelli, PharmD, Department of Clinical Pharmacy, will be giving a continuing education course entitled “Brief Smoking Cessation Interventions for Busy Clinicians.” Emeritus Associate Dean Robert Day, PharmD, will share stories from the School’s past at the Chancellor’s Anniversary Breakfast on Saturday. After breakfast, Esteban Burchard, MD, MPH, Department of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences, will deliver one of several TED-style short talks. Following our Half-Century Club Luncheon for graduates of 1964 and earlier, all of our alumni are invited to an afternoon town hall on the School’s evolving strategic plans, which I will host. Joining me to discuss research, education, and patient care, respectively, will be Paul Ortiz de Montellano, PhD, Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry; Vice Dean Sharon L. Youmans, PharmD, MPH; and Jennifer Cocohoba, PharmD, Department of Clinical Pharmacy.

Saturday evening at the Pharmacy Alumni Gala Dinner we will celebrate the awarding of the 2014 Distinguished Alumnus of the Year to Michael Maddux, PharmD, ’79, FCCP. Mike’s career warrants nothing less. He was a transplant clinical pharmacist and professor at the University of Illinois, assistant dean of Saint Louis College of Pharmacy, and executive director of the American College of Clinical Pharmacy. Congratulations, Mike.

New colleagues

In the past few months, we welcomed new colleagues from University Development and Alumni Relations who support both the School and the Graduate Division. Lillian Samuel ([email protected], 415-502-1197), senior director of development, focuses on major gifts and philanthropic support to the School. Benjamin Gunning ([email protected], 415-476-3590), director of development, is working with Lillian on major gift fundraising for the School. Rachel Katsuura ([email protected], 415-502-1887), our director of alumni relations, manages our alumni affairs, including Alumni Weekend.


Since I last wrote, both a UC appointment and a UCSF resignation have made the news. Janet Napolitano, our new UC president, is working to ensure that every young person in this state has equal opportunity to higher education. To that end, she is partnering with California Community Colleges and the California State University System. I encourage you to [sign up for her newsletters][link defunct].

While our new president sets a course for UC, we thanked Susan Desmond-Hellmann, MD, MPH, for her four years of terrific service as our chancellor. Sue left UCSF on March 31 to become the chief executive officer of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. President Napolitano appointed an advisory committee in the national search for our new chancellor and hopes to receive candidate names by July. Sam Hawgood, MBBS, UCSF School of Medicine dean and vice chancellor for medical affairs, is serving as interim chancellor until a new chancellor takes office.

UCSF expanded its pediatrics care with the January affiliation between Children’s Hospital & Research Center Oakland and UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital. With a generous gift to UCSF of $100 million by Lynne and Marc Benioff, announced in April, that affiliation is further strengthened. We also announced in April a $100 million global initiative to address premature birth. The program is funded by the Benioffs, in partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

As always, stay tuned.

Yours sincerely,

Guglielmo's signature

B. Joseph Guglielmo, PharmD
Troy C. Daniels Distinguished Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences
UCSF School of Pharmacy


School of Pharmacy, Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, Department of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences, Department of Clinical Pharmacy, PharmD Degree Program, BMI, CCB, PSPG, Bioinformatics, Biophysics

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.