Donors unite to honor Toby Herfindal and his commitment to innovation in pharmacy

Gifts and pledges exceeding $500,000 total from UCSF School of Pharmacy doctor of pharmacy (PharmD) alumni and spouses, coupled with a $500,000 match by the University of California (UC) Office of the President, established the Toby Herfindal Presidential Chair for Entrepreneurship and Innovation in October. The annual payout of the endowment will be used to support faculty members and/or graduate students in the UCSF School of Pharmacy who are involved in innovation and entrepreneurship in a pharmacy setting.

The chair represents Herfindal’s tremendous impact on the pharmacy profession and far beyond through a career marked by foresight, insight, and a passion for creating new pharmacy services—all with the health of the patient first in mind, according to B. Joseph Guglielmo, PharmD, dean of the UCSF School of Pharmacy.

“Our doctor of pharmacy students learn to question the status quo—to ask why, why not, how—and to identify problems, and then solve them through critical thinking,” said Guglielmo. “Toby set the standard for this kind of pharmacist—first as an academician, and then as an entrepreneur. A testament to Toby, the chair provides pharmacy leaders like him with the critical injection of funds needed to seize and develop novel ideas.”

Coming together to meet the UC match challenge were: Kathleen Brodowy, PharmD ’83 and Bret Brodowy, PharmD ’83; Leslie Cunningham and Michael Cunningham, PharmD; Gordon Dow, PharmD ’65; Patricia (Patt) Herfindal and Eric Torbjorn (Toby) Herfindal, PharmD ’65, MPH; and Lisa Chun Rodondi, PharmD ’84 and Kevin Rodondi ’85.

“The philanthropic commitment made to this chair by Kathie, Bret, Toby, Patt, Mike, Leslie, Gordon, Kevin, and Lisa is dwarfed only by their shared commitment to improving the health of patients,” he added.

Patt and Toby Herfindal: champions of innovation and daring

Patt Herfindal retired from Blue Shield of California after a 30-year career in leadership positions—from manager of national accounts to vice president of membership for all programs offered by Blue Shield. Undergraduate studies in sociology at San Francisco State University and graduate coursework in business management at Golden Gate University underpinned her career.

Toby Herfindal earned a PharmD degree from UCSF and later a master of public health (MPH) degree from UC Berkeley. He joined the UCSF School of Pharmacy faculty in 1969 where he subsequently served as an assistant dean, then associate dean of international pharmacy affairs, and ultimately beginning in 1973 until he retired from UC in 1994—as founding chair of the newly created Division of Clinical Pharmacy (now Department of Clinical Pharmacy).

A steady history of envisioning and implementing dramatic transformation in pharmacy practice and education marked Herfindal’s tenure as division chair at a time when the radical concept of the pharmacist as a health care provider and active member of the health care team was taking root nationwide.

The seed for this conceptual shift had been planted and nurtured a decade earlier at UCSF Medical Center in what was called the Ninth Floor Project, at a university overlooking Haight-Ashbury, and in a city and nation ignited by social and cultural revolution. As a pharmacy student, and then a young faculty member during this period, “everything was possible,” Herfindal said.

“Toby was the ultimate challenger of the pharmacy status quo,” noted Guglielmo. “At the same time, he knew how to work with people to accomplish radical change.”

As division chair, and in collaboration with an open-minded faculty, Herfindal:

  • Oversaw the application among the division’s faculty pharmacists of new laws allowing the targeted expansion of pharmacists’ prescribing and drug therapy management authorities.
  • Developed and implemented a plan with UCSF Medical Center (now UCSF Health) that leveraged new legislation and enabled UCSF pharmacists to practice throughout UCSF’s hospital and ambulatory care clinics.
  • Supported a program for the safe and effective use of antimicrobials throughout UCSF Medical Center. The program is the most continuously operated of its kind in the U.S. today.
  • Validated through rigorous research the clinical and economic benefit of pharmacist services in hospital patient care settings.
  • Expanded well beyond UCSF Medical Center the scope and type of clinical practice sites opened to UCSF PharmD students as electives in the San Francisco Bay Area, with a goal of exposing students to new practice possibilities.
  • Initiated and solidified collaborations with medical centers throughout California that enabled UCSF PharmD students to complete required clinical coursework beyond San Francisco.
  • Championed a plan to provide expert advice on potential poisonings to families, health care providers, and emergency services personnel through the newly established San Francisco Bay Area Poison Control Center. The program now serves the entire state and fields 700 calls per day as the California Poison Control System.

Herfindal’s success as an academic leader and innovator widened to the business sector in the late 1980s as he assumed leadership positions in San Francisco Bay Area-based health sector companies including health care services company Access Biotechnology which later became Axion, Inc. He left academia in 1992 for executive positions in OnCare Inc., an oncology disease management company. In 2000, he co-founded and served as president and chief executive officer of National Oncology Alliance (NOA), a company that provides business, clinical, technology, and management services to community-based medical oncology practices. NOA was later acquired by McKesson Corporation.

His leadership positions in professional organizations span three decades and include service as president of the California Society of Hospital Pharmacists (CSHP) and as a member of the Board of Directors of the American Society of Hospital Pharmacists. In 1982, the CSHP selected Herfindal as Pharmacist of the Year, and in 2006 the UCSF Pharmacy Alumni Association honored him with the Distinguished Alumnus of the Year Award.

When Herfindal joined the UCSF School of Pharmacy faculty in the late 60s the concept of clinical pharmacy—of pharmacists using their expertise to advise physicians and care for patients rather than simply fill prescriptions—was in its infancy. “A group of us set out to develop that clinical model as a pilot. There was nothing to guide us,” said Herfindal.

“We were asked to be risk takers, innovators, and we were likely too young to know better or to be discouraged by practitioners wedded to the status quo. Now Patt and I have found a way to support those special qualities—innovation, daring—that have come to distinguish the School today,” he explained.

Now Patt and I have found a way to support those special qualities—innovation, daring—that have come to distinguish the School today.

—Toby Herfindal, PharmD ’65

Like minds

The donors joining the Herfindals to make the presidential chair possible “embody the kinds of skills and the mindset that we are trying to achieve with this chair,” said Herfindal. “And Patt and I are honored by their generous support.”

Kathleen and Bret Brodowy

The Brodowys

Kathleen Brodowy, PharmD, and Bret Brodowy, PharmD

Over the course of her career, Kathleen Brodowy, PharmD, applied her pharmacy expertise to management and clinical positions at various San Francisco East Bay hospitals, including Samuel Merritt Hospital, Kaiser Permanente, and the Veterans Administration Health Care System. She earned a PharmD degree from the UCSF School of Pharmacy, then completed a first-year postdoctoral pharmacy residency at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics and a second-year residency at Stanford University Medical Center hospitals.

Bret Brodowy, PharmD, has more than 30 years of pharmaceutical and information technology experience in both the academic and private sectors. As vice president of business development for Oncology Therapeutics Network, he managed the procurement and administration of pharmaceuticals in ambulatory oncology settings. He held leadership positions in the health care information technology sector at First Databank as vice president of customer support, at Misys Healthcare Systems as the product line director for pharmacy products, and at McKesson Specialty Health as vice president of automated technologies. In academia, Brodowy served as director of pharmaceutical services for UCSF Medical Center and as director of the UCSF School of Pharmacy Medication Outcomes Center. He completed postdoctoral pharmacy residencies at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics and UCSF after earning a PharmD degree from the UCSF School of Pharmacy.

Toby Herfindal was a tremendous leader and innovator in the profession and a valued mentor to many of us who were lucky enough to work with him at UCSF. Kathie and I are thrilled to support this initiative.

—Bret Brodowy, PharmD ’83

Leslie and Michael Cunningham

The Cunninghams

Leslie Cunningham and Michael Cunningham, PharmD

After earning a master of physical therapy degree from Stanford University, Leslie Cunningham spent her career in physical therapy positions at Ralph K. Davies Medical Center, UCSF Medical Center, Visiting Nurse Association Home Care in San Francisco and Marin, and the Marin Community Clinics.

Michael Cunningham, PharmD, an expert in structuring and implementing strategic business relationships between health care providers and pharmaceutical companies, co-founded NOA with Herfindal and Rodondi after a decades-long career at UCSF Medical Center, ultimately as the associate director of pharmaceutical services charged with overseeing procurement of pharmaceuticals and supplies for UCSF’s entire clinical enterprise. After leaving UCSF, he applied that expertise to business development leadership positions in companies that focused on enabling pharmaceutical access and fair contract terms to health care provider markets. As principal and owner of Rx 2020 LLC, he now advises health care clients on pharmaceutical-related business issues. Cunningham completed two postdoctoral pharmacy residencies at UCSF after earning a PharmD degree from the University of Southern California. He also earned a master of business administration from the University of California, Berkeley.

Toby is an incredible leader and has done so much to advance the profession of pharmacy and health care in general. It was only fitting that Leslie and I express our sincere gratitude for all that he has done by supporting this presidential chair in his honor.

—Michael Cunningham, PharmD

Gordon Dow


Gordon Dow, PharmD

Gordon Dow, PharmD, a pharmaceutical scientist whose career focused on dermatological product research and development, founded Dow Pharmaceutical Sciences, Inc., in 1977. The company provided contract services, from product development to regulatory filings, for several hundred domestic and international pharmaceutical firms. Dow, who holds many patents, created a number of unique dermatologicals that have been developed or acquired by leading dermatological pharmaceutical companies for marketing and distribution in the U.S. and various worldwide markets. Now retired, Dow continues as a Dow Pharmaceutical Sciences consultant. He began his career as a product development scientist after earning a PharmD degree from the UCSF School of Pharmacy.

Through my support of the Herfindal chair, I thank the UCSF School of Pharmacy for an education that enabled me to have a rewarding career, honor my classmate for his influential and multifaceted career, and support the continuing history of entrepreneurship and innovation in the School that Toby represents.

—Gordon Dow, PharmD ’65

Lisa Chun Rodondi and Kevin Rodondi

The Rodondis

Lisa Rodondi, PharmD, and Kevin Rodondi, PharmD

Lisa Chun Rodondi, PharmD, is an exhibited visual artist specializing in mixed media who believes in the transformative, healing power of art, including its ability to empower survivors of gender-based violence. As a workshop facilitator of Traveling Postcards, she leads women and girls who are survivors of violence and oppression in the creation of handmade postcards that carry messages of support to other survivors around the world. For the first 20 years of her career, she practiced as an infectious diseases pharmacist. She earned a PharmD degree from the UCSF School of Pharmacy and completed a UCSF postdoctoral pharmacy residency and a research fellowship in infectious diseases.

Kevin Rodondi, PharmD, began his career in leadership positions launching and supporting health care start-ups in the community-based oncology market. He then co-founded NOA, with Herfindal and Cunningham, where he served as president and chief operating officer. As a professor in the UCSF School of Pharmacy, Rodondi now advises faculty members as they look to commercialize their research or restructure their academic service programs to meet business objectives. He shares his business and leadership acumen with PharmD students and California health care leaders through leadership training courses. He also holds the McKesson Chair in Pharmaceutical Technology in the School of Pharmacy. Beyond academia, he is a national instructor for the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation I-Corp programs, which foster entrepreneurship leading to commercialization of technologies derived from federally funded science and health research. Rodondi earned a PharmD degree from the UCSF School of Pharmacy and then completed two UCSF postdoctoral pharmacy residencies.

I, like many, owe my career to Toby who provided guidance, opportunity, and his belief in my abilities to accomplish more than I thought possible. He is a visionary and innovator who has never been constrained by what others thought couldn’t be done and always asked ‘what if?’

—Kevin Rodondi, PharmD ’85

As a student, resident, fellow, and volunteer faculty member in the School of Pharmacy, I was inspired by Toby’s imagination and belief in the possibility of creating innovative programs, then putting action behind those ideas to make them a reality. It’s my privilege to honor and celebrate Toby by contributing to this endowment.

—Lisa Chun Rodondi, PharmD ’84

Converging around innovation and admiration

“We are very grateful to the donors who came together to make this chair possible,” said Guglielmo. “The chair honors Toby’s career as an innovator and leader with the support of donors who are pioneers and innovators as well. What a well-deserved recognition of Toby, and what a strong endorsement of this School’s passion for inquiry. Thank you to all.”

Gifts that result in endowed positions of this size are of particular importance because they free the recipient to explore and evaluate new ideas independent of the usual competitive grant process, Guglielmo noted.

This is the School of Pharmacy’s second presidential chair following the creation earlier this year of the Jere E. Goyan Presidential Chair for the Advancement of Pharmacy. Donors to both the Goyan and Herfindal presidential chairs are recognized as participants in UCSF: The Campaign.


School of Pharmacy, Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, Department of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences, Department of Clinical Pharmacy, PharmD Degree Program

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.