Update from the Dean - Fall/Winter 2015

Dear UCSF School of Pharmacy Family and Friends,

As outlined in my last Update, we are moving forward in support of our latest School plan—Leading Change: Strategic Plan 2015–2020. Our recent successes listed below are testimony that we are well on our way to realizing our vision: a time when patients everywhere benefit from precise therapeutics used safely and effectively.


Recently received research funding

Cancer: identifying patients at risk for cancer drug side effects

Deanna Kroetz, PhD, Department of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences, received a five-year, $3.8 million grant from the National Cancer Institute to identify genetic predictors (biomarkers) in patients at increased risk of toxicity associated with the taxane class of cancer treatment drugs. Taxanes, such as paclitaxel, are dose-limited by sensory peripheral neuropathy—damage to peripheral nerves that causes numbness and pain. Deanna’s project will sequence and cross-reference the genomic data of hundreds of patients suffering from paclitaxel neuropathy and will identify gene variants associated with this toxicity. Goal: Identify cancer patients at increased risk of taxane-induced peripheral neuropathy and develop potential therapies to prevent and treat this adverse side effect.

Alzheimer's disease: determining networks of gene variation

The vast majority of Alzheimer’s disease cases are not caused by single gene mutations but rather by complex combinations of genetic variation. Michael Keiser, PhD, Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, and two colleagues at the UCSF Institute for Neurodegenerative Diseases (IND), Martin Kampmann, PhD, and David Kokel, PhD, received a three-year, $1.4 million grant from the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation to identify those combinations. Using a computational method developed by Michael and department colleagues, the Keiser Lab will predict the complete set of protein targets for a half-million compounds screened by IND Director and Nobel Laureate Stanley Prusiner, MD. These targets will be assessed for their ability to reduce aggregations of tau—a protein abundant in brain neurons that becomes defective in Alzheimer’s. Goal: Identify networks of gene variation that lead to tau aggregation and discover drugs that prevent or minimize the effects of Alzheimer’s disease.

HIV: screening for next-generation anti-HIV drugs

John Gross, PhD, Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, received a two-year, $396,000 grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases to develop high-throughput screening of small molecules to discover next-generation antiretroviral drugs. In collaboration with colleagues in the interdisciplinary UCSF-UC Berkeley HIV Accessory and Regulatory Complexes (HARC) Center, John has determined how an HIV protein, Vif (viral infectivity factor), hijacks a host cell’s ability to eliminate unneeded proteins. The Gross Lab will screen for small molecules that selectively inhibit the Vif complex’s sabotage activity. Goal: Create leads for a new class of antiretrovirals that unleash host cells’ innate immunity, making them less susceptible to viral resistance mutations.

Type 1 diabetes: developing an implantable device of donor pancreas cells

Shuvo Roy, PhD, Department of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences, received a three-year, $1 million grant from JDRF, the largest charitable supporter of type 1 diabetes research, to create tiny, surgically implantable capsules of donor pancreas cells. Shuvo’s newly funded project will house pancreatic islet cells within semipermeable silicon membranes, using production techniques adapted from the semiconductor and microchip industries. The membranes have pores that allow the passage of glucose and insulin, but prevent antibody attacks on the pancreatic cells. In effect, these implants will allow for transplantation of donor islet cells and eliminate the need for anti-rejection drugs. Goal: Create a postage-stamp-size capsule that will optimize glucose control in diabetes.

Recent faculty publications

Fibrosis: discovering a critical protein in fibrosis and designing a fibrosis inhibitor

William DeGrado, PhD, Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, is co-senior author of a paper in Science Translational Medicine that describes the discovery of a new protein target and associated lead compound for treating fibrosis—scarring that takes place in the lungs, liver, and kidney. Working with Dean Sheppard, MD, Department of Medicine, Bill focused on an integrin protein, alphaV-beta1. The team demonstrated that the protein is essential for the activation of TGF-beta1, which is critical in the development of fibrosis. Bill and Dean computationally designed and experimentally tested a highly selective and potent inhibitor of alphaV-beta1 that blocked TGF-beta1 activation in cell studies. This inhibition was demonstrated in fibroblasts from the lungs of pulmonary fibrosis patients. Impressively, the new inhibitor substantially and significantly reduces fibrosis in mouse models of renal, hepatic, and pulmonary fibrosis. Potential impact: An important new target for treating fibrosis; creation of drugs for a huge unmet clinical need—treating multiple diseases affecting patients with tissue fibrosis.

Biofilms: demonstrating a simulator to improve antibiotic dosing in biofilm-producing bacteria

Katherine Yang, PharmD, MPH, Department of Clinical Pharmacy, is senior author of a paper in Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy that studies the effects of antibiotic dosing on bacterial biofilms. Biofilms form when bacteria aggregate in structured communities within a secreted “slime” on tissue surfaces and medical implants, making them very difficult to eradicate with antibiotics. These biofilms may appear in infections of orthopedic implants and intravenous catheters, and in chronic lung infections in cystic fibrosis. Kathy and colleagues at Stanford University have developed a flow-cell system that exposes biofilms to simulated human antibiotic concentrations. In this preliminary study, the device simulated the effects of an antibiotic on biofilms of P. aeruginosa—a dangerous, highly resistant pathogen in hospitalized patients. Potential impact: Improved dosing of antibiotics in the treatment of difficult biofilm infections.

Gout: discovering why the leading gout medication is ineffective for many

Kathy Giacomini, PhD, Department of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences, is senior author of a paper published in Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics that identifies a key genetic difference that determines patient response to allopurinol. Although it is the drug of choice for treating gout, allopurinol is ineffective in more than half of patients. Using genomic data from more than 2,000 patients, Kathy’s group conducted the first analysis of genetic differences in allopurinol response. They found a gene variant that encodes a transporter—a protein molecule that spans cell walls and controls the entry and exit of the drug—that crucially altered the distribution of allopurinol, making it less effective. Potential impact: Ability to predict which patients will not respond well to allopurinol and might be optimally treated with alternative therapies.

Recently established collaborations and partnerships update

MBA-PhD: start-ups

Rich Lyons, PhD, dean of the UC Berkeley Haas School of Business, and I recently established a Haas-School of Pharmacy Collaboration toward the identification of mutually beneficial programs. As a start, we launched a pilot program linking Haas MBAs with UCSF scientists who have founded—or are in the process of creating—life sciences start-up companies. We held our first online matchup between the two groups; as a result, six teams are now working together. I will have more to report on this entrepreneurial pilot in future Updates.

Academia-industry: new drugs, antibiotics

Michael Fischbach, PhD, Department of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences, has entered into a multi-year collaborative research agreement with scientists at MIT, Harvard, the Broad Institute, and the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research. His project will apply computer programs developed in Michael’s lab to identify gene clusters in genomic databases that produce drug-like polypeptides, some of which will be selected and transferred into host cells (e.g., yeast, E. coli). These cells will, in turn, produce quantities of the compounds. The hypothesis is that gene clusters found in the human gut microbiome may create molecules that could potentially become new antibiotics.

Academia-industry: cancer and other diseases

James Wells, PhD, chair of the Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, is one of the founding members of the Recombinant Antibody Network (RAN), a consortium of researchers from the UCSF Antibiome Center (based in the Wells Lab), the University of Chicago, and the University of Toronto. The consortium has developed automated antibody engineering and a large-scale production pipeline. In September, the RAN established a partnership in which Celgene Corp. acquired the option to enter into future license agreements to develop and commercialize promising therapeutic antibodies to cancer-related targets. The collaboration with Celgene will apply the RAN’s systematic high-throughput antibody production and validation approach to targeting signaling proteins on cell surfaces that play key roles in cancer and other diseases.

Academia-research orgs-health plans and payers: comparative effectiveness

The Department of Clinical Pharmacy’s Center for Translational and Policy Research on Personalized Medicine (TRANSPERS) is continuing to shape the nation’s personalized medicine research agenda through its work with the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI). PCORI, an independent organization authorized by the U.S. Congress in 2010, is the largest funder of comparative effectiveness research in the world. TRANSPERS director Kathryn Phillips, PhD, is working closely with PCORI leaders to help them develop an agenda on precision/personalized medicine and comparative effectiveness research.

Academia-FDA: regulatory sciences

The UCSF-Stanford Center of Excellence in Regulatory Science and Innovation (UCSF-Stanford CERSI), formed in 2014, continues to grow. The UCSF arm is housed in our Department of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences. Department faculty member Kathy Giacomini, PhD, continues to co-direct the center with Stanford’s Russ Altman, MD, PhD. This partnership between the two universities and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) aims not only to improve the FDA regulatory process, but also to enhance communication among universities and industry and the FDA. In the month of September 2015 alone, the CERSI hosted 18 FDA visiting scientists to consider the development and approval of rapid diagnostics for viral outbreaks, modeling and simulations for drug-approval processes, patient preferences in medical device approval, and next-generation DNA sequencing.

Patient Care

Implementation of California Senate Bill 493 (SB 493), which expands the scope of practice of California pharmacists, is well on its way. Lisa Kroon, PharmD, Department of Clinical Pharmacy chair, offers this update.

The pharmacist authorities, both for the Advanced Practice Pharmacist (APP) and for the expanded roles of the non-APP, are at various stages of implementation and finalization of regulations. For example:

  • Furnishing by pharmacists of naloxone hydrochloride is live. Although not part of SB 493, this authority has been grouped with the non-APP expanded scope of practice.
  • Furnishing by pharmacists of prescription nicotine replacement therapy is close to being live.

The Department of Clinical Pharmacy is partnering with the California Pharmacists Association for online interactive training for furnishing naloxone (training developed by Thomas Kearney, PharmD) and nicotine replacement therapy (training to be developed by Robin Corelli, PharmD; Lisa Kroon, PharmD; and Karen Hudmon, DrPH, RPh, Purdue University).

The 45-day comment period for the California State Board of Pharmacy’s proposed regulations detailing licensure requirements for Advanced Practice Pharmacists closed on September 14, 2015. The final regulation is forthcoming.


Precision medicine conference

Kudos to our student pharmacists Dalga Surofchy, Chris Foo, Priya Jayachandran, Lilian Kibathi, and Dor Keyvani, who founded the Precision Medicine Student Alliance (PMSA) to expose UCSF students to the potential benefits of precision medicine. The First Annual UCSF Precision Medicine Conference, featuring a slate of distinguished clinicians and scientists, was held this past April. The faculty advisor—and a staunch supporter of the group—is Esteban Burchard, MD, MPH, Department of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences.

New PharmD curriculum

The conceptual design stage for our new doctor of pharmacy (PharmD) curriculum, which I introduced to you in the last Update, is now complete. We are currently immersed in the details required to translate the framework into new approaches to teaching and learning.

As we move forward through this challenging and exciting development stage—under the continual leadership of Vice Dean Sharon L. Youmans, PharmD, MPH—the key next step in our curricular transformation is the creation of the Troy C. Daniels Curricular Innovation Awards. The interest income from the Troy C. Daniels Distinguished Professorship, which I hold, is being used to create competitive awards. These grants will support pilot projects aimed at testing dynamic new approaches to teaching, learning, and assessment in the PharmD program. Troy C. Daniels, PhD, served as dean of the School from 1944 to 1967. The use of the professorship income for this purpose is fitting, as Dean Daniels led a bold transformation of the pharmacy curriculum during his tenure and was committed to continuous curriculum improvement.


Congratulations to the following on their recent honors and awards.


Adam Abate, PhD, Department of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences, was selected by the World Economic Forum as one of fifty exceptional Young Scientists, each of whom has contributed to advancing the frontiers of science, engineering, or technology in areas of high societal impact. Adam attended the World Economic Forum’s Ninth Annual Meeting of the New Champions in Dalian, People’s Republic of China, where the Young Scientists were honored.

Leslie Benet, PhD, Department of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences, has been named the 2015 recipient of the North American Scientific Achievement Award by the International Society for the Study of Xenobiotics (ISSX). This is the Society's most prestigious award, presented to an outstanding scientist in the North American Region.

Esteban Burchard, MD, MPH, Department of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences, was appointed to an expert panel advising the National Institutes of Health on President Barack Obama’s $215 million Precision Medicine Initiative. Esteban is an expert in applying precision medicine to improve the treatment of asthma in children from racially and ethnically diverse origins.

Tejal Desai, PhD, chair of the Department of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences, was just elected as a member of the National Academy of Medicine (NAM), formerly known as the Institute of Medicine. Tejal is well known and respected for her work applying microscale and nanoscale technologies to create new and improved ways to deliver medications to target sites in the body and to enable healing. Tejal joins Kathy Giacomini, PhD; Mary Anne Koda-Kimble, PharmD; Jere Goyan, PhD; and Leslie Benet, PhD as a NAM member in the school.

Conan MacDougall, PharmD, MAS, an award-winning teacher of our student pharmacists, is a new member of the UCSF School of Medicine’s Haile T. Debas Academy of Medical Educators, joining 18 others on the 2015 slate of inductees from across our professional schools.

James Wells, PhD, chair of the Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, is a newly elected member of the 2015 class of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (AAAS). Jim joins his department colleague William DeGrado, PhD, who was elected in 1998.

Glenn Yokoyama, PharmD, Department of Clinical Pharmacy, was selected to receive the Individual Contribution Award from the Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy (AMCP). The award recognizes an AMCP member making a significant contribution to the academy by any means other than service as an AMCP committee member.


Retired faculty member Robert H. Levin, PharmD, received the 2015–2017 Office of Academic Affairs Edward A. Dickson Emeritus Professorship Award, which honors outstanding research, scholarly work, teaching, or public service at UCSF by an emeritus professor. During his tenure as a Dickson Emeritus Professor, Bob will work on the implementation of updated patient care services training in our PharmD curriculum, to fulfill requirements of the landmark SB 493 mentioned above.

Rear Admiral Pamela Schweitzer, PharmD ’87, is the 2015 Distinguished Alumnus of the Year, a recognition awarded by the UCSF Pharmacy Alumni Association to the alumnus who has made outstanding contributions to the profession of pharmacy, to society, or to UCSF. Pam has blazed a professional path to become chief pharmacy officer and assistant surgeon general in the U.S. Public Health Service.

New Faculty Members

We welcome three new faculty members to the Department of Clinical Pharmacy and one to the Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry.

Valerie Clinard, PharmD, joins us as director of experiential education for the PharmD program. Valerie earned a PharmD from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she also completed a postdoctoral residency in community pharmacy practice. As director of experiential education, Valerie will oversee our Introductory Pharmacy Practice Experience (IPPE) and Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experience (APPE) programs. In this role, she will work closely with locally based regional directors to implement new practice sites and help guide the continued development of strong preceptors.

Working with Valerie is Natalie Buening, PharmD, the new director of experiential programs in the South Bay. After earning a PharmD from Butler University, Natalie then completed successive residencies at Eskenazi Health/Purdue University and at Indiana University Health/Purdue University. She specializes in trauma and surgical critical care, aims to practice in emergency medicine, and coordinates the experiential activities for our student pharmacists and preceptors to the south of San Francisco. Natalie takes the reins from Glenn Yokoyama, PharmD, who recently retired after a UCSF career of exceptional service, teaching, and mentoring.

The third new member of the Department of Clinical Pharmacy faculty is Jennifer Toy, PharmD. Jennifer earned her PharmD from UCSF and completed successive residencies at the Veterans Affairs Puget Sound Health Care System and the University of Washington Medicine Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, Washington. Jennifer joins our California Central Valley Program Director Mitra Assemi, PharmD, in Fresno, where Jennifer will lead a new collaboration between the Department of Clinical Pharmacy and the Kaweah Delta Health Care District to develop novel ambulatory-care-based models of services and care delivery for underserved populations. Jennifer’s special interest is diabetes and its many associated comorbidities.

Ian Bass Seiple, PhD, joins our Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry and the Cardiovascular Research Institute. His science focuses on the application of modern chemical synthesis to biological challenges. Ian earned a PhD in chemistry from The Scripps Research Institute, followed by postgraduate studies as a National Institutes of Health (NIH) postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University.


Jacobson to become department chair

Matt Jacobson, PhD, will become the 10th chair of the Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, effective January 15, 2016, following James Wells, PhD, who has served in the post since 2008.

Matt is deeply respected in the School, in the Graduate Division, and across campus for his groundbreaking research, his teaching, and his thoughtful, provocative ideas. Matt, who holds the title of professor, joined our faculty in 2002. Shortly before that time, he earned his PhD in chemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and completed postdoctoral work at Oxford University and Columbia University.

As we welcome Matt, we also thank Jim for his exceptional tenure as department chair. Under Jim’s leadership, the department recruited more than 15 faculty members. Due to Jim’s extremely collaborative approach to recruitment, UCSF now has remarkable new scientists integral to the research fabric of the campus. My sincere thanks to Jim for his years of service as chair.

Sali appointed associate dean of research

Andrej Sali, PhD, became our new associate dean of research, effective July 1, 2015. The appointment is in addition to Andrej’s full professorship in the Department of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences, which he joined in 2003. In his associate dean role, Andrej advises me and School leaders regarding pertinent research issues and represents the School’s research interests on campus. Andrej earned his PhD in biophysics from the University of London. He is an outstanding, internationally recognized researcher who uses computation to study the structure, function, and evolution of proteins and their assemblies.

Andrej follows retiring Associate Dean of Research Paul Ortiz de Montellano, PhD, who has served in the position since 2010. Congratulations to Andrej on this new appointment, and thanks to Paul for his superb service and commonsense approach as associate dean and for his stellar contributions to heme protein research during his career at UCSF.

New colleagues in Development and Alumni Relations

We welcome Michelle Clark, UCSF’s new executive director of school development. Michelle oversees fundraising for the dental, nursing, and pharmacy schools as well as the Graduate Division, UCSF Library, and UCSF Fresno, while serving as the chief fundraiser for medical education. She joins UCSF from Emory College where she served as assistant vice president of development and alumni relations. Welcome as well to our new director of alumni relations, Angie Dalfen, who will work with the School and the Graduate Division to ensure strong relationships with alumni. Angie’s previous post was at Golden Gate University School of Law, where she served as associate dean of admissions since 2008.

“Making History” at Alumni Weekend

At Alumni Weekend this past spring, we celebrated the 150th anniversary of the founding of UCSF. The School of Pharmacy used this occasion to present our own “Making History” event in Byers Auditorium on the Mission Bay campus. The May 30, 2015 production was truly amazing. The fast-paced, 90-minute program included a history video, a slideshow of faculty and student pharmacists at work and play, and

most notably, on-stage interviews with an illustrious group of individuals—including Dean Emeritus Mary Anne Koda-Kimble—who shared their insights on how and why the School has emerged as a research powerhouse, a leader in clinical pharmacy practice and education, and an incubator of brilliant graduates. Josephine Barbat, the School’s first female alum, made a surprise visit, played to the hilt in Victorian costume by our former associate dean of external relations, Lorie Rice, MPH. Our moderator, Ian Pearson, was excellent. Read more about this delightful event: Making History.


Students, faculty, and residents from universities across the nation gathered at UCSF in October to discuss shared goals regarding global pharmacy. The Apoteko Retreat 2015 was co-sponsored by UCSF Global Health Sciences and was named after the Esperanto word apoteko, meaning pharmacist. Second-year UCSF student pharmacists Kyle Brown, Bryan Hunt, Lisa Le, Nou Lee, Rahat Mawlavizada, Liriany Pimental, led by Tina Brock, BSPharm, MS, EdD, associate dean of global health and educational innovations, coordinated this effort. I look forward to the recommendations of the group to inform the School regarding its global pharmacy affairs.


The School of Medicine has a new dean and the campus a new vice chancellor for medical affairs, effective July 1, 2015: Talmadge King, Jr, MD. Talmadge, who previously chaired the medical school’s Department of Medicine, is an international expert on lung disorders and a well-respected campus leader who will be an absolutely superb dean. My sincere congratulations, Talmadge.

While the Parnassus campus undergoes modernization, one change is complete and in place in front of the Medical Sciences building, directly in front of my office—the lovely statue Hygeia, the Greek goddess of health. The sculpture had been hidden for many years in its original location around the corner from the Moffitt Hospital emergency room entrance. In her new location at the heart of the Parnassus campus, Hygeia is well placed where student pharmacists pass her each day. We were thrilled to hold a reception commemorating the move and honoring the renowned sculptor and painter Harriet Moore, who has been creating art for more than 75 years.

As always, stay tuned.

Yours sincerely,


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

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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.