Update from the Dean – May 2019

Dear UCSF School of Pharmacy Family and Friends:

At the UCSF School of Pharmacy we don’t just embrace change, we create it. We have a rich history as drivers of change in our profession, in science, and in education. That passion for change, coupled with a scientific mindset, is clearly evident today in the School, as you’ll read in this Update.

I have much to share, so I’ll get right to it.

With warm regards,


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

Questioning the status quo

Continuous improvement of our curriculum

Student speaks.

First-year student Bryan Herrera poses a question on the first day of class of the new PharmD curriculum.

We are almost one full year into our new doctor of pharmacy (PharmD) curriculum. As you’ve read in previous Updates, the new curriculum prepares students with a scientific mindset. It’s a very different, integrated approach to learning compared to my days as a pharmacy student. It’s also an approach whose time is now.

Beginning on day one of the curriculum, students identify problems and evaluate potential solutions. They very quickly begin to participate in pharmacy practice experiences that gradually increase in complexity. They explore scientific innovations as they develop inquiry skills, and they gradually connect concepts within coursework—concepts that build week to week and year to year.­­

One of the many ways we’re preparing students to think scientifically is through the Inquiry Immersion course. This offering brings PharmD and MD students together to tackle pressing health care issues using problem-solving and critical-thinking skills. The course structure previews how health care providers will work together more closely in the future. Thanks to two of our curriculum leaders, Susan Miller, PhD, Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, and Francesca Aweeka, PharmD, Department of Clinical Pharmacy, for opening this course to pharmacy students and for weaving the larger concept of inquiry into all three years of the new curriculum.

We’ve learned a lot over this past year. We’re innovating daily. Our success to date is due to the commitment and flexibility of our faculty, education administrative leaders and staff—and to the partnership with our pioneering first-year students. As always, I am tremendously proud of ALL the School’s students; the efforts of these first-year students parallel those of their upper classmates.

Progress for all of our students

Students talking

The 80.7 percent residency program match rate of UCSF School of Pharmacy PharmD students who graduated in May 2019 is among the highest in the nation.

Take a moment to imagine that you’re not enrolled in the new curriculum. Rather you’re a student in our pathway curriculum, moving through a grade-based, four-year PharmD program, with long summer breaks, while a new cohort of students arrives to experience a competency-based way of learning, over three years, and with no summer breaks. In three years, the new curriculum will fully replace the pathway curriculum you’re in now.

Be reassured that our commitment to students in both curricula is equally strong and, quarter by quarter, we’re applying lessons learned from the new curriculum to the pathway curriculum. As an example, we’re finalizing a new program for all of our PharmD students that will prepare them early for the increasingly competitive pharmacy residency and job marketplaces.

Since we introduced the pathway curriculum in the late 1990’s, our PharmD graduates have proven themselves to be leaders, innovators, and among the nation’s exceptional pharmacy care providers. The result of this year’s residency match is one of many indicators of their academic and professional read­i­ness.

Continuing success in residency match rates

The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists Residency Match took place this past spring. Of the 83 students in the Class of 2019 who participated, 67 matched for first-year residencies—an 80.7 percent match rate, which is consistent with our match results over the past decade. This rate is once again among the very best in the nation. Congratulations!

Student accolades

Our students continue to be recognized for their excellence.

  • Congratulations to our pharmacy student team for its performance at the Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy’s pharmacy and therapeutics competition. Ailin Kim, P3; Victoria Yi, P2; and Niamh O’Grady and Ellen Berkley, both P1s, finished as a top-eight team out of 67 schools. Ours was the only team with four first-time participants and the only team with first-year students as competitors.

  • Olivia Creasey, a student in the Bioengineering PhD degree program and a Byers Family Discovery Fellow, won second place at the 2019 Grad Slam for her talk, “An Instruction Manual for Islet Assembly.”

  • The pharmacy student team of Kennedy Ngotran, P3; Nkiruka Oragwam, P2; and Binh Pham, P3, will compete as national finalists at the Health Care Quality Innovation Challenge at the Pharmacy Quality Alliance in Baltimore in mid-May.

Levi Gadye

Fifty-one students at the 2019 Student Awards & Recognition Dinner.

Celebrating commencement for the Class of 2019

On May 3, the 122 members of the Class of 2019 received their PharmD degrees at the commencement ceremony held again this year at Davies Symphony Hall. Pharmacy Alumni Association 2019 Distinguished Alumnus of the Year, Glen Stimmel, PharmD ’72, served as the honorary marshal, and 2012 Distinguished Alumnus of the Year, Brian Komoto, PharmD ’81, served as the commencement speaker.

Two students

Members of the School of Pharmacy PharmD Class of 2019 pose at commencement.

YeeAnn Chen, PharmD, received the 2019 Bowl of Hygeia. Her classmates, Trung Ky, PharmD; Brian Ma, PharmD; Ryan Ng, PharmD; and Troy Santos, PharmD, were distinguished finalists. Congratulations to all!

Fueling innovation


Deanna Kroetz, PhD, right, was among dozens of faculty members who contributed to the School of Pharmacy becoming the top recipient of NIH funding among all pharmacy schools in 2018.

In 2018 and for the 39th consecutive year, the School received more National Institutes of Health research funding than any other pharmacy school in the nation. Considering the length of this unbroken streak in support, the announcement can feel perfunctory, but make no mistake, this is a momentous achievement! This success represents the fruits of a culture that never accepts things as they are, and instead, imagines them as they could be.

The American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy just released data on total extramural research funding received by United States schools of pharmacy from October 2017 through September 2018. I am pleased to report that our School ranked first with more than $69 million in total funding from federal and non-federal sources. Once again this data reflects the quality of our science and its importance to our work.

This year, the Mary Anne Koda-Kimble Seed Award for Innovation marked its fifth year of funding research proposals in the School. Honoring the work of Mary Anne Koda-Kimble, PharmD ’72, our dean from 1998 to 2012, the award supports bold and risky ideas from across the School. This year’s awards will fund research into neuroscience, cancer, improved RNA sequencing, the opioid crisis, and pharmacy education.

Improving pharmacy practice

Making drugs work better and more safely

The School is dedicated to making therapeutics safer and more effective. I share here a few recent examples of how we are succeeding.


Janel Long-Boyle, PharmD, PhD

In the realm of personalized therapeutics, Janel Long-Boyle, PharmD, PhD, Department of Clinical Pharmacy, recently partnered with a tech company to create a software solution to bring safer chemotherapy treatments to young patients, including babies as young as two months old.


Rada Savic, PhD

Another innovator in precise medications, Rada Savic, PhD, Department of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences, recently showed that millions of lives might be saved simply by adjusting tuberculosis treatment duration according to the severity of a patient’s disease.


Kathy Giacomini, PhD

Kathy Giacomini, PhD, Department of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences studies the unexpected effects of the inactive parts of medications, known as excipients. To that end, a new fellowship in partnership with the U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention (USP) Quality Institute will evaluate the safety of these drug additives.

Rifkind awards

Rifkind and wife
Levi Gadye

Gary Rifkind, PharmD ’72, right, with his wife Joyce, at the 2019 Clinical Pharmacy Research Seminar.

Studies on adolescent drug abuse, use of anti­de­pres­sant medications in the hospital emergency department, and complications from implanted heart pumps took top honors as Rifkind Spring Research Seminar Award winners at the Department of Clinical Pharmacy’s 21th annual Spring Research Seminar.

These $1,000 individual awards, created by Gary Rifkind, PharmD ’60, recognize and celebrate clinical research. Many thanks to Gary and his wife, Joyce Rifkind, for their generous support.

Expanding services in the community pharmacy setting


Lisa Kroon, PharmD

Subsequent to the implementation of contraception services at California and Oregon Albertsons pharmacies, Lisa Kroon, PharmD, chair of the Department of Clinical Pharmacy, determined that these services resulted in increased patient access to health care.

The success of this model opens the possibility of expanding pharmacist-provided patient services in community pharmacies.

Tackling disease from the lab bench

Science and a scientific approach unifies all of the School’s work, and nowhere is this more apparent than in our recent discoveries in the pursuit of better therapeutics.

From genes and proteins to new therapies


Pamela England, PhD

With partial support from the School’s Mary Anne Koda-Kimble Seed Award for Innovation, Pamela England, PhD, Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, discovered the first drug binding site on a protein known to be involved in Parkinson’s disease. Here’s an Update excerpt from 2015 when I first shared news of this research with you. It demonstrates the impact of the Seed Award program:

…a $30,000 Seed Award (jumpstarted) a col­lab­o­ra­tive project​…​to develop small molecule leads for drugs to halt the progression of Parkinson’s disease.

I am pleased to report that their preliminary findings were intriguing enough to generate an additional $25,000 in funding via the UCSF Clinical & Translational Science Institute Catalyst Awards as well as a $200,000 Bridging-the-Gap Award from the Rogers Family Foundation.

UCSF School of Pharmacy

Nadav Ahituv, PhD

Nadav Ahituv, PhD, Department of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences, used a variant of the gene editing system CRISPR-Cas9 to successfully compensate for obesity-causing gene mutations in mouse models.

UCSF School of Pharmacy

Sourav Bandyopadhyay, PhD

Sourav Bandyopadhyay, PhD, Department of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences, evaluated how lung cancer cells develop drug resistance, demonstrating that a combination of drugs targeting both tumor growth and an alternative signaling pathway could effectively beat back lung cancer in the lab.

QBI makes headway in the international fight against infectious diseases

In a pair of studies, researchers led by Nevan Krogan, PhD, director of the Quantitative Biosciences Institute (QBI), discovered a common thread among the Ebola, dengue fever, and Zika viruses that could lead to long-awaited treatments for all three.

QBI is a campus organized research unit that reports up through the School of Pharmacy. Nevan is a faculty member in the medical school’s Department of Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology and a senior investigator at the Gladstone Institutes.


Jacqueline Kyosiimire-Lugemwa, PhD

On the education front, QBI bid farewell to the inaugural recipient of its Scholarship for Women from Developing Nations in Biosciences. Scholarship recipient Jacqueline Kyosiimire-Lugemwa, PhD, returned to Uganda after spending a year with QBI scientists and learning new skills that will augment her HIV research. The scholarship was created by Nevan and QBI’s chief operating officer, Jacqueline Fabius, who worked to create this award by leveraging her years of experience working with the United Nations.

QBI’s international outlook will be front and center again in June as it hosts a two-day symposium on arthropod-borne diseases. Read more about the symposium, which will take place at our Mission Bay campus, and how to register.

Improving dialysis


Shuvo Roy, PhD

A team of researchers including Shuvo Roy, PhD, Department of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences, recently won the “KidneyX: Redesign Dialysis” prize. The award, the result of a public-private partnership between the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the American Society of Nephrology, will accelerate the development of Shuvo’s proposed implantable dialysis device as work on the full bioartificial kidney continues.

Computational tools


Michael Keiser, PhD

In addition to investigating biological mysteries in pursuit of new therapeutics, the School has developed tools to speed the pace of discovery. Computational tools, in particular, hold immense promise for more rapid biomedical advances.

Sharpening machine learning into a defter scientific tool

While assisting a Princeton University lab to correct a paper on machine learning and chemistry, Michael Keiser, PhD, Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, and talented post-doc Kangway Chuang, PhD, realized that machine learning could benefit from the same “checks” on experimental validity that scientists employ regularly in the lab. The duo ultimately published two papers to cue the field into some of the pitfalls associated with reliance upon machine learning, as well as methods to avoid these mistakes.

Unlocking the potential of millions of untested drug molecules


Brian Shoichet, PhD

Brian Shoichet, PhD, Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, knows what it’s like to discover new drug candidates for conditions like schizophrenia, but in recent findings, Brian, along with fellow faculty member John Irwin, PhD, unveiled a drug discovery platform that allows scientists to systematically comb through a database of 250 million chemicals in search of potential drugs. The new platform is comprised of nearly 100 times as many chemicals as its predecessor.

Commendations for excellence

Excellence in management


Cynthia Watchmaker, MEd, MBA, prepping PharmD students for commencement.

Congratulations to Cynthia Watchmaker, MEd, MBA, our associate dean of student affairs. Cindy will be honored with the Chancellor’s Award for Exceptional University Management this month. Cindy leads the development of our many programs aimed at ensuring the success of our PharmD students and their readiness for practice. Student recruitment, admissions, academic advising, student services, career and professional development, student wellbeing, and co-curricular activities all fall under her umbrella. Cindy has been a tireless and essential member of the Dean’s Office education team, ensuring the well-being of our students. No one is more deserving of this award.

Major appointments

Todd Dubnicoff

Tejal Desai, PhD

Tejal Desai, PhD, chair of the Department of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences, was named the director of a new UCSF bioengineering initiative known as the Health Innovation Via Engineering (HIVE). HIVE will jumpstart col­lab­o­ra­tions among bioengineers at UCSF and beyond.

UCSF School of Pharmacy

James Fraser, PhD

James Fraser, PhD, Department of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences, who maps the shape and movement of macromolecules, was appointed to the Bowes Biomedical Investigator Program.


Conan MacDougall, PharmD, MAS

Conan MacDougall, PharmD, MAS, Department of Clinical Pharmacy, received the Divine Family Endowed Chair in Clinical Pharmacy.

Elections into professional societies


Tanja Kortemme, PhD

Tanja Kortemme, PhD, and Tejal Desai, PhD, both in the Department of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences, were elected into roles at the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE). Kortemme was inducted into the AIMBE College of Fellows, and Desai, already a fellow and the chair of the College of Fellows, was named president-elect of AIMBE.

Ortiz de Montellano

Paul R. Ortiz de Montellano, PhD

Paul R. Ortiz de Montellano, PhD, an emeritus faculty member in the Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry and the School’s former associate dean of research, has been elected a fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry, the oldest chemical society in the world. Paul gained renown for his work with cytochrome P450 enzymes, which help the liver metabolize drugs and regulate hormone levels.

More recognitions

  • Robin Corelli, PharmD, Department of Clinical Pharmacy, and Karen Suchanek Hudmon, DrPH, College of Pharmacy, Purdue University, won the Wiederholt Prize for Best Published Paper Award for Economic, Social and Administrative Sciences from the American Pharmacists Association for a paper on pharmacy-based referrals to a tobacco quitline.

  • Betty J. Dong, PharmD, Department of Clinical Pharmacy, was honored with the 2019 Daniel B. Smith Practice Excellence Award from the American Pharmacists Association. I describe Betty as the ultimate “clinician’s clinician.” She’s a world expert in HIV/AIDS and hepatitis C, a committed creator of successful practice models, a champion of academic freedom, a superb teacher, and the role model for women as faculty leaders. Betty is retiring at the end of June, completing 46 years on our faculty; we had the opportunity to honor her at the recent PharmD commencement.

  • Early this month, Kathy Giacomini, PhD, Department of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences, delivered the 2019 Faculty Research Lecture in Translational Science. This, UCSF’s most prestigious award given to translational researchers, recognizes Kathy’s tremendous success in widening the scope and impact of pharmacogenomics.

  • Illya Gordon, a research associate in the lab of Shuvo Roy, PhD, Department of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences, won the grand prize from the UCSF Office of Sustainability for implementing a management plan for lab equipment that saved $5,200 a year in energy costs.

  • Michael Keiser, PhD, Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, received a Ben Barres Early Career Acceleration Award from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, which will help enable his study of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.

In memory: two pioneers and friends

We’ve lost two pioneers in recent months. While I cite their professional contributions, we miss them dearly for their humanity and friendship.

Levin chatting with students.

Robert Levin, PharmD, right

Robert Levin, PharmD ’64, died in February. Bob was a professor emeritus in the Department of Clinical Pharmacy. As an early pioneer of the nation’s clinical pharmacy movement, he went on to initiate clinical pharmacy programs in Israel. He was also one of the very first pediatric pharmacists in the United States, practicing at San Francisco General Hospital (now Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital). After retiring from UCSF, Bob continued his campus involvement, serving as president of the UCSF Pharmacy Alumni Association Board of Governors and president of the UCSF Emeriti Faculty Association, and by being a beloved mentor to our pharmacy students.


Sarah Nelson, PhD

Sarah J. Nelson, PhD, died in April. With Kathy Giacomini, she co-led the creation, in 2009, of the Department of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences, which reports jointly to the School of Pharmacy and the School of Medicine. Sarah recognized the promise of marrying technology and biology to solve biomedical problems. She spearheaded the development of the bioengineering community at UCSF and helmed the UCSF/UC Berkeley joint PhD degree program in Bioengineering, all while leading her own research in the field of imaging science. Sarah was also a long-time faculty member in the medical school’s Department of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging.

A memorial for Dr. Nelson will be held on June 13, 2:30-3:30 pm at UCSF's Mission Bay campus. Register: Dr. Sarah J. Nelson - A Celebration of Life.

In support of the School

Goyan Presidential Chair

UC Regents

Jere E. Goyan, PhD

We announced in February the creation of the Jere E. Goyan Presidential Chair for the Advancement of Pharmacy. The endowed chair was made possible by Linda Lloyd Hart, PharmD, whose generous $500,000 commitment was matched one-for-one by the UC Office of the President. The Goyan chair is the School’s first presidential chair. Linda is a former faculty member in our School and her late husband, Jere, was our dean from 1967 to 1992. He was the longest-serving dean of the School of Pharmacy, and he also served as commissioner of the United States Food and Drug Administration. Investment income from the endowment principal will support the recipient’s teaching, research, and service activities toward the advancement of pharmacy. This is a wonderful, permanent tribute to Jere, and I thank Linda for her exceptional generosity.

Student scholarships

I am pleased to share the news of two generous pledges made in November. Caroline Burk, PharmD ’90, and Robert Burk, PhD, created the Burk Family Endowed Scholarship in the School of Pharmacy in support of an annual award for a third-year student. Shirley Plotzker, PharmD ’71, and Richard Plotzker, MD, created the Shirley and Richard Plotzker Endowed Scholarship in the School of Pharmacy in support of an annual award for a third- or fourth-year student.

A special thanks to the School’s PharmD Class of 1969 for more than fully funding a $125,000 endowment in its name to support student scholarships in the School. The Class of 1969 Endowed Student Scholarship Fund was created in 2009.

I thank the Burks, the Plotzkers, and the Class of 1969 for the needed financial relief the investment income from these funds will offer our students.

The minimum funds required to establish an endowed scholarship at UCSF is $125,000. I’ve mentioned before, but it’s worth repeating, that the average debt our pharmacy students now face at commencement exceeds $125,000.

Celebrating our alumni

Stimmel and Wong

Glen Stimmel, PharmD ’72, received the 2019 Distinguished Alumnus of the Year Award from Wilma Wong, PharmD ’73.

At this year’s Alumni Weekend, held in April at the Hyatt Regency Embarcadero, we checked in with our graduates and shared the latest School and campus developments.

The weekend kicked off with a tremendous panel discussion, led by Vice Dean Sharon L. Youmans, PharmD ’85, MPH, on the progress of our new PharmD curriculum, now one year old. We welcomed new members from the Class of 1969 into the Half Century Club, and Associate Dean Thomas Kearney, PharmD ’80, Department of Clinical Pharmacy, led a panel discussion on how UCSF and the San Francisco Department of Public Health are teaming up to address the growing opioid crisis.

UCSF Campaign Alumni Award winners were also recognized during the weekend: Michelle Tam, PharmD ’00, a blogger and award-winning cookbook writer; and Donald Kishi, PharmD ’68, a leader in the School for half a century and the current associate dean of student and curricular affairs.

The weekend ended at the UCSF Pharmacy Alumni Association gala dinner, where Glen L. Stimmel, PharmD ’72, received the 2019 Distinguished Alumnus of the Year Award. Glen’s career is characterized by his commitment both to teaching and to building the subspecialty of psychiatric pharmacy.

Campus news

UCSF History Collection

Affiliated Colleges under construction, circa 1897

I close this Update with a look back and a look forward as we plan the next transformation of our Parnassus Heights campus into a destination worthy of its history and ongoing success across our missions. The campus has definitely evolved over time since the first Affiliated Colleges buildings began rising from the sand in 1897.

Many of you will remember the campus as it looked in the images I share here from the 60s forward. While we have benefited from recent new construction, such as the Ray and Dagmar Dolby Regenerative Medicine Building, the time has come to take a comprehensive look at the Parnassus Heights campus and create a long-term plan for its renewal. I encourage you to read about the vision for Parnassus Heights and take a virtual tour through what Parnassus could be in the decades to come. The initial vision, involving input from stakeholders inside and outside UCSF collected over three years, will be finalized next month. I’ll share more information as Parnassus Heights campus plans evolve.

UCSF History Collection

Original Affiliated Colleges building being surrounded by new construction, circa 1960s

UCSF History Collection

UCSF Parnassus Heights campus, circa 1960s

Saunder's Court
UCSF History Collection

Saunders Court, 2008

Moffitt Hospital
UCSF History Collection

Looking south toward Moffitt Hospital and the Medical Sciences building, 2009


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.