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Update from the Dean: Passing the torch
By Thomas E. Kearney / Mon May 9, 2022
Dear UCSF School of Pharmacy family and friends,
My name is Tom Kearney, and I’m serving as the School’s interim dean. I am a professor emeritus in the Department of Clinical Pharmacy, having most recently served as the associate dean of academic affairs, and I’m honored and humbled to lead the School through to its next generation of leadership.
During my months as interim dean, UCSF has continued to ramp up its on-site operations, including a return to in-person work for office staff. Seminars, roundtables, and ceremonies are beginning to draw attendees in person as well as online. And our third-year PharmD students are preparing for an in-person commencement this month.
Our most recent dean, B. Joseph Guglielmo, PharmD, retired at the outset of this year, concluding over 40 years of service to UCSF and the School of Pharmacy. From the hospital floor to a dean’s office with a perpetually open door, Joe inspired many to strive for excellence in science and patient care, and he will be missed.
Joe also oversaw the graduation of the School’s first PharmD class trained under a revamped pharmacy curriculum that was forced to adapt to the dynamics of the pandemic. That PharmD program received its official renewal of accreditation earlier this year, a testament to the hard efforts of our faculty members, staff, and students. Moreover, the students trained under the new curriculum have quickly attained success in their nascent careers, with high residency match rates for our 2022 PharmD graduates and several graduates acquiring fellowships.
Our researchers have once again distinguished themselves by collectively earning the most NIH funding of any school of pharmacy in the United States. Our faculty members have received accolades and awards for teaching, research, and innovative clinical and health care services. I am also proud of the strides we have made towards improving diversity, equity, and inclusion which are in direct alignment with our core values.
Lastly, it is my distinct pleasure to announce and give a warm welcome to our new dean, Kathy Giacomini, PhD, who will succeed me on July 1, 2022.
Until then, I’m honored to provide the type of guidance that I myself relied on during my decades as a faculty member and administrator in the School. In parting, I want to express my deepest gratitude to our faculty and staff who have given me such a warm welcome and the critical support I needed in the role of interim dean.
Thomas E. Kearney, PharmD
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Kathy Giacomini, PhD, was named the next dean of the UCSF School of Pharmacy, an appointment that will take effect on July 1. Kathy, a faculty member in the Department of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences (BTS), is world-renowned for her work in pharmacogenomics, which uses genetics to tailor drug therapies for individuals, and the regulatory sciences.
Kathy has a long history of leadership in the School, at UCSF, and beyond. She was the chair of BTS for over a decade and served as the chair of the Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on the Status of Women. She also co-founded the UCSF-Stanford Center of Excellence in Regulatory Science and Innovation (CERSI) in collaboration with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Kathy has already made a lasting impact on many through her research, mentorship, and advocacy, and I am excited to see where she leads the School next. Please join me in congratulating Kathy and welcoming her to this new role.
As UC San Francisco settles into a new normal with vaccinations, masks, and health checks for the foreseeable future, our scientists have not skipped a beat. Today, laboratories are again operating at normal capacity, ensuring that experiments, collaborations, and discoveries can proceed full steam ahead.
In 2021, faculty members in the School’s three academic departments were awarded a total of nearly $40 million from the National Institutes of Health, spread across 80 grants, continuing the School’s 42-year streak of earning the most research funding of any pharmacy school in the nation. The breadth of the work supported by these grant dollars speaks to the creativity and drive of all our researchers, from trainees to senior scientists.
The Quantitative Biosciences Institute (QBI), an organized research institute in the School, itself earned over $11 million in NIH funding to fuel its work ranging from COVID-19 to cancer and HIV. In what has become a signature of the institute’s knack for breaking new ground in the sciences, QBI’s Cancer Cell Map Initiative—a collaboration between UCSF and UC San Diego—used a new method for studying cancer to identify new valuable targets for future cancer therapies.
QBI also progressed its investigation of the novel coronavirus. The QBI Coronavirus Research Group, led by QBI Director Nevan Krogan, PhD, found differences in proteins present in several highly infectious variants of SARS-CoV-2, including Alpha, Delta, and Omicron, that give these viral variants the ability to evade the human immune system.
Six of our mid-career faculty members in the basic sciences were inducted into the 2022 cohort of Chan Zuckerberg Biohub Investigators, providing vital additional funding for their science. Zev Gartner, PhD; Bo Huang, PhD; Aashish Manglik, MD, PhD; Tanja Kortemme, PhD; Rada Savic, PhD; and Seth Shipman, PhD, will each receive $1 million over the next five years in support of their research efforts in fields across the biological sciences.
Despite ongoing advances in biomedicine, access to quality health care is still lacking for communities near and far. School researchers and clinicians have been steadfast with efforts to tailor health care to be safer, more effective, and more accessible for the benefit of all patients.
Last fall, Crystal Zhou, PharmD, and Sarah Chong, PharmD ’21, began providing health care services, including hypertension (high blood pressure) counseling and COVID vaccinations, at Black barbershops in the Bay Area. Thanks to Crystal and Sarah’s affiliation with the Cut Hypertension Program—part of the Roots Community Health Center—barbers, pharmacists, and physicians are now actively collaborating to meet the unique health needs of an underserved population right in our own community.
Crystal and Sarah each received additional recognition for this vital work in community pharmacy. Crystal received the California Pharmacists Association’s Excellence in Innovation Award, and Sarah earned the American Pharmacists Association Foundation’s Incentive Grant.
Outside of the U.S., malaria remains a treatable but often neglected threat to millions of people. Erika Wallender, MD, MPH, used computational methods to develop an effective prophylactic, or preventative, treatment for malaria in children, who are particularly vulnerable to severe illness and death from the disease. The research relied on a kid-friendly finger-stick test developed by Francesca Aweeka, PharmD, and was carried out in collaboration with Rada Savic, PhD, and experts in Uganda.
The recent announcement of the winners of the 2022 Mary Anne Koda-Kimble Seed Awards for Innovation reinforces the impact of our past leaders on the budding scientists and clinicians nurtured by the School community. Given in honor of Mary Anne Koda-Kimble, PharmD, who led the School as dean for over ten years, this year’s awards support projects ranging from the pharmaceutical sciences to sustainability and diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Over 90 of our third-year PharmDs have matched with a pharmacy residency program or secured a fellowship, with the remaining actively considering next steps to careers in the field. In just a few weeks, we look forward to sending these students off at the School’s first in-person commencement since 2019.
Our first- and second-year PharmD students have also distinguished themselves in recent months, with a team of 16 students from the classes of 2023 and 2024 earning the third-place prize in the Value of Industry Pharmacists (VIP) Case Competition, hosted by the Industry Pharmacists Organization (IPhO). The competition dove deep into the drug discovery pipeline, from bench to bedside, with participation from 65 teams from pharmacy schools across the U.S. Congratulations to Amelia Lao, Rania Ibrahim, Isabelle Nguyen, Kelly Ching, D.J. Houston, Slade Schneider, Pollyanna Leung, Min Chen, Julia Jones, April Zhou, Giovanni Lara, Noor Elbershawi, Nariman Piri, Eddie Nguyen, Dvijen Purohit, Mitchell Muskat.
Our scientific trainees also continue to make waves in their chosen disciplines. Postdoctoral scholar Coline Arnould, PhD, received the Bettencourt Prize for Young Researchers, given by the Fondation Bettencourt Schueller, a French philanthropic organization, for her work on the genetic roots of Alzheimer’s disease.
Agathe Béranger, MD, PhD; Mari Cayabyab, PharmD ’20; Vincent Chang; Emma Hughes; and Huy Ngo, PharmD, PhD; were recognized with 2022 Presidential Trainee Awards from the American Society for Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics (ASCPT). These five scholars are all making tangible improvements to the effective use of drug therapies in conditions like HIV, tuberculosis, and heart disease.
Over the last two years, events and discussions have made clear that our efforts to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the School must be thorough and ever-evolving. It is heartening to see how everyone—from learners to staff members and faculty members—has stepped up to build lasting routines of introspection, dialogue, and policymaking that will ensure a healthy School environment for all.
The School’s vision statement on DEI, newly developed with feedback from all corners of our community, is now shared on a new portal for School and departmental DEI resources. This web page features DEI-related news, announcements, and events, in addition to resources for finding support and submitting feedback. We look forward to seeing this page grow over time and welcome your input.
The School’s Equity & Inclusion Speaker Series continues to deliver thought-provoking content and community discussion on DEI issues. Recently, LaMisha Hill, PhD, and Tiffani Chan, MA, both from UCSF’s Office of Diversity and Outreach (ODO), gave an overview of the campus’s Anti-Racism Initiative and fielded questions and comments from the audience. If you missed it, check out the recording of the event.
The School’s PharmD curriculum, which prepares students for lifelong careers that inevitably require an awareness of DEI, underwent an overhaul just four years ago, becoming the current three-year, year-round program. This change—which entailed new approaches for teaching pharmacy knowledge and skills—primed students and faculty members to critically examine how DEI is handled within the PharmD program and brainstorm improvements.
DEI is now an explicit consideration with our delivery of pharmacy education, thanks to our Health Equity Internship, which brings students and faculty members together to update the PharmD curriculum with an eye for equity. Much thanks is owed to our student body for pushing for these initiatives. They have set an example for pharmacy schools across the U.S., reflecting on and acting to rectify biases.
- Stephanie Hsia, PharmD, and Marilyn Stebbins, PharmD, were each honored by the UCSF Academic Senate with Distinguished Faculty Awards. Stephanie, an expert in psychiatric pharmacy, earned the Distinction in Teaching Award. Marilyn, who specializes in innovative pharmacy practices for underserved populations, earned the Distinction in Mentoring Award.
- Stephanie and Jennifer Cocohoba, PharmD, MAS, were each appointed to endowed chairs in the School. Stephanie was selected as the new holder of the Divine Family Endowed Chair in Clinical Pharmacy. Jennifer, a specialist in the treatment of HIV/AIDS in women, was selected as the new holder of the McKesson Chair in Pharmaceutical Technology.
- Esteban Burchard, MD, MPH, was accepted into the Association of American Physicians (AAP), a prestigious honor society for physician-scientists. Esteban leads the UCSF Asthma Collaboratory and is an expert on the genetic and environmental factors that drive the development of asthma in children.
- Su Guo, PhD, earned the UCSF Bakar Aging Research Institute (BARI) Investigator Award for her research on brain development and novel treatments for neurological disease.
- Shuvo Roy, PhD, earned the Medal of Excellence in the Breakthrough Innovators Special Recognition Category from the American Association of Kidney Patients (AAKP). Shuvo co-directs The Kidney Project, which is nearing completion of the testing phase of its bioartificial kidney on the path to clinical trials.
Graduates of the School have a long history of bringing UCSF’s spirit of innovation wherever they go.
In March, I had the pleasure of interviewing Yoona Kim, PharmD ’09, PhD (YouTube video, 22 minutes), as part of the UCSF Alumni Association’s Under the Microscope series. Yoona is the co-founder and CEO of Arine, a company that uses data science to optimize drug therapies and solve medication mismanagement in health care. She shared valuable insights into the future of this type of work as well as advice for students interested in pursuing pharmacy entrepreneurship.
Brian Komoto, PharmD ’81, was given the American Pharmacists Association’s Daniel B. Smith Practice Excellence Award for 2022. Brian oversees several pharmacy companies in the San Joaquin Valley of California and serves as a volunteer faculty member in the Department of Clinical Pharmacy.
Denis A. Kitayama, PharmD ’81, was given the Alumni Mentor Award by the UCSF Alumni Association, which recognizes “an alum who has devoted their career to inspiring, mentoring, and educating the next generation of scientists and health care providers.”
Daniel Robinson, PharmD ’76, was named this year’s Distinguished Alumnus of the Year by the UCSF Pharmacy Alumni Association (PAA). He credits his experience as a pharmacy student at UCSF for inspiring his mentorship of younger pharmacists throughout his career.
Maria Lopez, PharmD ’01, was recognized with the 2022 Bowl of Hygeia Award by the California Pharmacists Association (CPhA). Maria is the founder of Mission Wellness, a specialty pharmacy in San Francisco that focuses on high-cost meds for diseases like diabetes, HIV, and hepatitis C.
Mark Dresser, PhD ’00, was named president of the American Society of Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics (ASCPT). Mark, who earned his doctorate in pharmaceutical chemistry learning from Kathy Giacomini, PhD, has had a long career in the pharmaceutical industry, and he is the first openly LGBTQ president of ASCPT.
David Woods, PharmD, retired April 3. Woods, who was also chief director of pharmacy for the City and County of San Francisco, held an associate dean role in the School, representing one of our pharmacy practice partnerships. He served the Department of Clinical Pharmacy as a volunteer faculty member for 31 years.
Marilyn Stebbins, PharmD ’88, retired on February 1 after 26 years of service on our faculty. Marilyn was vice chair of clinical innovation for the Department of Clinical Pharmacy, the former holder of the McKesson Chair in Pharmaceutical Technology, and a well-known mentor to many generations of pharmacy students. She also co-established and oversaw the School’s long-running Medicare Part D program, which trains students to guide often-low-income and often-elderly patients through the government insurance program.
Katherine Krebs, a staff member in the Department of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences, retired in early March after serving the University for 16 years. She most recently held a dual role as communications specialist and executive assistant to the chair. Department Chair Deanna Kroetz, PhD, noted that Katherine “strove to knit the department’s many interests … and ensured that the department kept pace with university and world developments.”
On March 1, UCSF welcomed Suresh Gunasekaran, MBA, as the new president and chief executive officer of UCSF Health. He succeeds former UCSF Health CEO Mark R. Laret, who retired in 2021 after over two decades of service.
Suresh comes to UCSF after leading the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics as CEO and brings 20 years of experience in health care administration and information technology. He oversees UCSF Medical Center as well an ever-expanding network of hospitals and clinics in California. We look forward to working with Suresh in pursuit of excellence and innovation in research, education, and patient care.
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.