Update from the Dean: How COVID-19 is affecting us and where to find updates

Our COVID-19 response

Dear UCSF School of Pharmacy Family and Friends:

I hope this Update finds you sequestered at home. If you—or a member of your family—have been infected or suspect you’ve been infected by the COVID-19 virus, please take care of yourself. For those of you who are virus-free, I hope you remain so.

The pandemic is affecting our greater School community in all ways. As we meet the challenges of COVID-19, I’m reminded daily of your professionalism, your respect for both the true severity of this situation and the diverse needs of all the world’s citizens, and your steadfast commitment to excellence. You are an amazing community of individuals, which this pandemic has demonstrated so boldly. It’s a privilege to serve you as dean.

I’ll send you shorter, more frequent Updates as I can. In the interim:

  • Refer to UCSF COVID-19 for details on how UC San Francisco is responding to the pandemic and anticipating needs.

  • Read how you can help during COVID-19.

  • Sign up to receive UCSF COVID-19 alerts by text message: Text 333 111 and enter UCSF.

  • Refer to UCSF School of Pharmacy COVID-19 for School-specific updates for faculty, students, and staff, and updates on the PharmD degree program.

  • Watch recordings of the School of Pharmacy town halls I’ll now be holding every week for the near future. Recordings of the March 18 town hall and March 25 town hall are now posted.

Here is a high-level look at the School in the COVID-19 era as of today. As always, I welcome your questions or comments in reply to this email. Stay safe.

With warm regards,


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

School COVID-19 actions

Whatever it takes

We are not operating as usual, but we are operating as smoothly as possible, thanks to the professionalism and problem-solving skills of our exceptional staff colleagues across the School. From their remote work locations at home, they’re surmounting countless administrative obstacles and clearing the way for us to move forward. They do whatever it takes.

Twenty-two labs, one goal

All of our non-essential labs have closed. With that said, I bring your attention to the essential work of the QBI Coronavirus Research Group, which formed just weeks ago among 22 of UCSF’s labs. The aim? Construct a protein map of the novel coronavirus, then use the map to identify promising drug candidates to treat COVID-19, and do it in a matter of weeks! The team released its results to the global science community on March 22 as highlighted in the New York Times and beyond.

Nevan Krogan, PhD, directs the Quantitative Biosciences Institute (QBI), an Organized Research Unit that reports to me. Read the UCSF feature story on this work; Nevan’s account in The Conversation, and the personal observations of QBI’s chief operating officer, Jacqueline Fabius, as this coronavirus research unfolded.

It’s this kind of science that distinguishes the School from all others. Other important research related to COVID-19, including clinical trials, is under way at full speed across the School and across the entire campus.

Meeting extraordinary needs

UCSF Health continues its amazing response to COVID-19—both in meeting patient care needs and the safety needs or our health care providers. It’s a fluid situation. One constant is the close collaboration and coordination of UCSF Health and other health agencies and systems across San Francisco under the leadership of Mayor London Breed. Bookmark the Mayor’s Press Conference page to stay updated.

I encourage you to also watch the UCSF Health and COVID-19 town halls listed on UCSF COVID-19. Considering that it takes a day or two to post these recordings, what you see can be outdated. However, what remains fresh is the excellence and transparency of our health leaders as they share details, recommendations, data, and plans forward in real time. These plans include expanding in-patient capacity.

Surge planning and implementation have been under way for weeks at UCSF Medical Center, and, as one example, the School is working to provide PharmD faculty clinicians to meet the pharmacotherapy needs of an expanded intensive care unit (ICU) in San Francisco. I’ll have more on this in my next Update.

Shifting gears in PharmD education

I spotlight now the tremendous efforts taking place to realign and deliver a PharmD degree program during the realities of a pandemic. Our students have been our equal partners as we implement major changes to what, until a few weeks ago, was a straight academic path forward.

The pandemic is a real-world example of what our PharmD students will experience in their careers; they’ll continuously face unexpected challenges, identify and test solutions, and implement change. The current situation underscores how important it is for our students to learn how to think scientifically, and make decisions and take actions based on evidence. While unprecedented change and uncertainty results in anxiety, our students are rising to the challenge of the current health emergency. I’m tremendously proud of them.

Many thanks to Sharon L. Youmans, PharmD, MPH, vice dean, Valerie Clinard, PharmD, associate dean of experiential education and professional development; and colleagues in the greater Education Unit for their steadfast commitment to ensuring our students receive an exceptional education. Here are highlights of where the program stands today:

  • All didactic education is now via remote access through various platforms.

  • Students are working together remotely in small groups via video conferencing.

  • Introductory Pharmacy Practice Experiences (IPPE) are delayed until later this spring.

  • Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experiences (APPEs) are delayed until later this spring.

  • We’re working strategically with our preceptors and host institutions to determine the best ways to integrate our PharmD students into their work during this pandemic.

  • The Class of 2020 has completed its APPE graduation requirements.

  • The May 1 commencement ceremony for the Class of 2020 is canceled. Cynthia Watchmaker, MBA, MEd, associate dean of student affairs, is working closely with Class of 2020 leadership to develop potential alternatives.

  • Staff members in the Office of Education and Instructional Services (OEIS) and the Office of Student and Curricular Affairs (OSACA) remain heroic in adapting their work flows to support the rapid transition of the curriculum to remote access.

  • The teaching faculty continues to be supportive and creative as we adapt to changes brought on by the COVID-19 crisis. I remind you that since 2018, we’ve been delivering not one, but two concurrent curricula. Our legacy curriculum, now sunsetting, is being delivered to our 3rd- and 4th-year students; our new curriculum is being delivered to our 1st- and 2nd-year students. Despite the challenges of adjusting and delivering two PharmD curricula as students shelter in place during a global pandemic, our faculty and staff are resolute in their commitment to providing the very best learning experiences for our students.

In spite of the pandemic

And now, a few School updates that also demonstrate we’re continuing to move forward.

  • While our campus has not had time these past few weeks to share the news broadly, I’m pleased to let you know that the School is once again—and for the 40th straight year—the top recipient of National Institutes of Health (NIH) research funding among pharmacy schools across the United States. Projects in our Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, Department of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences, and Department of Clinical Pharmacy received $25,104,305 total in research awards.

  • Our PharmD program rose to second place nationally in the 2020 U.S. News & World Report survey of the best graduate schools. The pharmacy ranking is based solely on the results of peer assessment surveys sent fall 2019 to early 2020 to deans, other administrators, and faculty at accredited PharmD degree programs. During the period of this survey, we were transitioning to our new PharmD curriculum built on a foundation of scientific thinking and problem solving.

  • The legacy of our former dean, Mary Anne Koda-Kimble, PharmD, is clearly reflected in this year’s Mary Anne Koda-Kimble Seed Award for Innovation, which funds the boldest, riskiest, and most blue-sky ideas for which there are no ready or traditional sources of funding.

  • A generous gift of $1 million to the School from Troy Daniels, DDS, and Leslie Daniels has established the endowed Elizabeth Daniels Fund in permanent recognition of Elizabeth Daniels’ decades-long commitment to nurturing an inclusive UCSF School of Pharmacy community. Elizabeth’s husband, Troy C. Daniels, PhD, served as dean of the School from 1944 to 1967.

  • A series of interviews in a recent UCSF.edu story highlights UCSF’s excellence across the span of kidney disease patient care and research. Shuvo Roy, PhD, Department of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences, shares the research status of the implantable bioartificial kidney. He’s joined in the interview by UCSF Medical Center specialists in nephrology, transplant surgery, and transplant pharmacy.


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.