Update from the Dean: Community during challenging times

Dear UCSF School of Pharmacy family and friends:

In the wake of a contentious and bruising presidential campaign and a national wake-up call on race relations in America, COVID-19 cases are soaring in California and the United States.

Despite these challenges, the story of our School is one of adaptation and resilience. We continue to educate the next generation of pharmacy leaders. School clinicians administer potential COVID-19 therapies. Our laboratories press forward with our science mission, uncovering new paths to treating COVID-19 and other diseases. And finally, with the recent news of two promising vaccines, pharmacists will be the essential link between the public and vaccination.

As we await the likely approval of these vaccines, we can mask up, socially distance, avoid indoor gatherings, and get our flu shots. Annual flu shots are always important, but this year they can decrease unnecessary pressure on our health system and prevent a “twindemic.”

As is the annual custom, our doctor of pharmacy (PharmD) students gave me my flu shot on a day recognized by Mayor London Breed as American Pharmacists Day in San Francisco. If you haven’t received your flu shot, it’s never too late. Get yours as soon as possible.

Providing safety and community

The School has been creative and adaptable in finding ways to provide support and create connection from a distance.

Ahituv juggles outside and Fraser juggles in his kitchen.

Nadav Ahituv, PhD, left, and Jaime Fraser, PhD, trade juggling challenges.

The Class of 2023 held their White Coat Ceremony formally welcoming them into the profession virtually in September. And Department Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences faculty members James Fraser, PhD, and Nadav Ahituv, PhD, began a friendly juggling competition that takes place online and in person, providing their respective labs a chance to challenge their group leaders.

The recently endowed Elizabeth Daniels fund is currently being used to support ideas that foster community and wellness. The departments and the Dean’s Office have been provided a stipend to create community during the fall holidays.

This use of these funds is fitting and honors a woman known for her commitment to community and inclusion.

Honoring one of the School’s great contributors: Bob Day

Speaking of community, I must recognize the legacy of Bob Day, PharmD ’59, who dedicated more than five decades to the School as a faculty member and associate dean.


Bob Day, PharmD ’59

Bob was also our unofficial historian, collecting and eventually donating the School’s historical records to the UCSF Archives. As the writer and editor of the UCSF School of Pharmacy Alumni Newsletter, he effectively created a history of our School.

Bob’s vast knowledge of the School was on display at a Town Hall on October 15. Bob walked us through decades of School history, including its Parnassus Heights origins, the 1906 earthquake, and the outbreak of the two World Wars.

To honor Bob’s legacy, I am delighted to announce the naming of the Bob Day Student Center in the School of Pharmacy, a space for our PharmD students to connect, exchange ideas, and build community. I look forward to sharing more and celebrating the dedication of this space in the near future.

To further honor Bob, the Bob Day Student Support Fund has been established. This endowed fund in the School of Pharmacy will support student priorities in perpetuity and welcomes donors. To contribute, please visit the Bob Day Student Support Fund.

Shifting gears to our present activities, I’m eager to share some of the advances we have made this year in science and education. I hope you will be as impressed as I am with what our staff, faculty, and students have accomplished. It’s not enough to merely weather times like these—we must be agents of change.

With warm regards,


B. Joseph Guglielmo, PharmD


Troy C. Daniels Distinguished Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences

UCSF School of Pharmacy

Excellence in education


Cynthia V. Zarate, MS

Our transition to remote learning centered on the efforts of the UCSF School of Pharmacy’s Office of Education and Instructional Services (OEIS), who worked tirelessly behind the scenes. In recognition for these efforts, the entire OEIS team was the recipient of the Jaclyne Witte Boyden Staff Service Award. Congratulations to all.

Steering OEIS through this transition to remote learning was Cynthia V. Zarate, who ably stepped in as interim director. Cynthia has now been selected to fill the director role permanently. Congratulations, Director Zarate.

Five faculty members in the School’s Department of Clinical Pharmacy were also recognized by the Academy of Medical Educators (AME). Jaekyu Shin, PharmD, and Valerie Clinard, PharmD, were both inaugurated into the academy, and Cathi Dennehy, PharmD; Katherine Gruenberg, PharmD; and Zlatan Coralic, PharmD, were awarded the peer-nominated 2020 Excellence in Interprofessional Teaching Award from the UCSF Program for Interprofessional Practice and Education and the AME.

In an annual tradition, each doctor of pharmacy (PharmD) class bestowed didactic teaching awards on their instructors and their Introductory Pharmacy Practice Experience (IPPE) preceptors for excellence in teaching. In addition, students in our five experiential programs for Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experiences (APPEs) selected outstanding preceptors for the Long Teaching Award. Here is the full list of teaching award winners.

While we are on the subject of education, I’d like to provide an update on commencement for the Class of 2020. In May, the class celebrated their graduation online, even though we had hoped to hold an in-person ceremony. The class will formally celebrate their commencement virtually on December 26, 2020.

Science in service of health

Although many of the efforts of our researchers have been dedicated to unraveling the secrets of COVID-19, our work on other pressing health issues continues.

Ian Seiple, PhD, explains how he improved antibiotics to make them effective against resistant bacteria.

Ian Seiple, PhD, and James Fraser, PhD, used a system of chemical building blocks to modify a group of antibiotics to overcome bacterial drug resistance, and also identified general strategies for redesigning antibiotics so they can remain effective for decades to come.

The Kidney Project, led by Shuvo Roy, PhD, received a $1 million grant from the John and Marcia Goldman Foundation to fuel the development and testing of a crucial component of the group’s bioartificial, implantable kidney known as the bioreactor. The bioreactor was successfully implanted in an animal model in 2019 and is well on its way to approval for the treatment of end stage renal disease.

Tackling COVID-19 in the lab

Considering the SARS-CoV-2 virus is not quite a year old, the pace of discovery regarding the novel coronavirus has been staggering. Our School is home to dozens of projects that could lead to treatments for the disease.

Viral particle with spike proteins

SARS-CoV-2 viral particle with spike proteins (red)

Jim Wells, PhD, who is overseeing numerous COVID-19-related efforts, published two approaches, one in collaboration with School colleague Tanja Kortemme, PhD, which impair the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein.

The Quantitative Biosciences Institute (QBI), an organized research unit in the School of Pharmacy, also published COVID-19-related work: a detailed molecular study of three coronaviruses, including SARS-CoV-2, paired with a screen of patient records to find existing drugs that might be useful in treating the virus.

For an up-to-date list of all research related to COVID-19 occurring in the School, please visit COVID-19 Research Responses and COVID-19 Patient Care Responses.

An essential profession in a time of need


Desi Kotis, PharmD

We warmly welcome Desi Kotis, PharmD, to UCSF as the University’s first chief pharmacy executive (CPE). In addition to her role as CPE, Desi will also serve the School of Pharmacy as associate dean and faculty member. Desi’s arrival increases the experiential opportunities for students in our PharmD program.

COVID-19 has underlined what we all already knew: our pharmacy profession is essential. In March, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed an executive order allowing pharmacists to administer COVID-19 tests in the state.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recently affirmed that pharmacists can administer any approved coronavirus vaccine and the agency plans to partner with chain and independent pharmacies for vaccine distribution.

The changes in our profession in recent months are only part of a long trend expanding the services pharmacists offer, allowing us to operate at the top of our license. Lisa Kroon, PharmD, recently studied barriers to implementing some of the recent expansions in the scope of practice for California pharmacies. Lisa will follow the furnishing of hormonal contraceptives, nicotine replacement therapies, travel health medications, naloxone, and HIV prophylaxis drugs, among other services.

Tracking another expansion of services, Andy Nguyen, PharmD ’20, recently published a paper on the impact of California’s Assembly Bill 1535, which in 2014 allowed pharmacists to provide naloxone to patients without a prescription. Nguyen, along with his advisor, Dorie Apollonio, PhD, MPP, as well as Thomas Kearney, PharmD, looked at which pharmacies successfully provided the drug in the hopes other pharmacies could duplicate their methods.

Appointments, awards, and recognition


Michelle Arkin, PhD

Michelle Arkin, PhD, a leader in drug discovery, will become the chair of the Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, taking over for Matt Jacobson, PhD, on January 4, 2021. Since coming to UCSF in 2007, Michelle has brought her expertise to research and education ventures throughout the university and has also served as a facilitator of collaborations between industry and academia. She will join Tejal Desai, PhD, chair of the Department of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences, and Lisa Kroon, PharmD, chair of the Department of Clinical Pharmacy, as department heads. We are thrilled to welcome her into the School’s leadership group.

I’m also happy to announce the investiture of the Jere E. Goyan Presidential Chair for the Advancement of Pharmacy, which was made possible by a generous gift from Linda Lloyd Hart, PharmD. The award honors our former dean, a visionary force for pharmacy who put our School on a strong research footing while helping to transform pharmacy education nationwide. With her internationally recognized science and tireless work on our recent curriculum transformation, the inaugural holder, Deanna Kroetz, PhD, is well suited to honor Goyan’s legacy. Congratulations, Deanna.

More faculty recognitions

Seth Shipman, PhD, received the National Institute of Health (NIH) Director’s New Innovator Award for his groundbreaking work on mitochondrial DNA, which is mutated in a number of currently incurable diseases.

Danica Galonić Fujimori, PhD, was named 2020’s Bowes Biomedical Investigator. Danica’s research on enzymes—the molecular machines in cells that speed chemical reactions—provides critical insights into bacterial drug resistance and cancer.

Rada Savic, PhD, earned the American Society for Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics’ Leon Goldberg Early Investigator Award.

Tejal Desai, PhD, received the Judith Pool Award from the Association for Women in Science, Northern California Chapter. Tejal’s science was featured in the Partnership Opportunities in Drug Delivery (PODD) newsletter’s Women Leadership in Drug Delivery issue, and she told her story about her path to becoming an engineer for the UCSF: The Campaign’s Saturday Night Stories podcast series.

Alumni awards


Kathleen B. Kennedy, PharmD

Kathleen B. Kennedy, PharmD ’78, dean of the College of Pharmacy, Xavier University of Louisiana in New Orleans, was the 2020 recipient of the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists–Association of Black Health-System Pharmacists Joint Leadership Award. Kathleen is a national champion of health equity and passionate advocate for the reduction of racial and ethnic disparities in health care.

Martin Iyoya, PharmD ’83, was awarded the California Society of Health-System Pharmacists (CSHP) 2020 Distinguished Service Award. Martin was instrumental in the passage of SB493, the law that recognized pharmacists as health care providers in California, and he also worked extensively with the UCSF student chapter for CSHP.

Michael L. Ryan, PharmD ’83, was elected to the chair of National Pharmaceutical Council (NPC). The NPC is a health policy research organization dedicated to the advancement of science and supporting medical innovation.

UCSF joins Washington’s virus response

Biden sits on a panel with his wife, Jill, and UCSF Chancellor Sam Hawgood.

President-elect Joe Biden at UCSF’s Mission Bay campus in 2016.

President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris have announced the establishment of a coronavirus advisory board, a panel of public health and scientific experts that will include three UCSF faculty members from the School of Medicine.

David A. Kessler, MD, JD, will co-chair the Transition COVID-19 Advisory Board. Also joining the 13-member board are Eric Goosby, MD, and Robert M. Rodriguez, MD.

The appointments are further confirmation of the impact our university has had on combating the pandemic and fostering effective public health policy.


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.