Pharmacy: Greetings from the dean

Dean Joseph T. DiPiro

Dean Joseph T. DiPiro

Message from the dean:

Happy New Year!

It is hard to believe that it has been six months since I joined VCU as the dean of the School of Pharmacy. I have been truly honored by the warmth and confidence with which I have been greeted. MCV and VCU alumni as well as faculty and students are a committed and passionate group of people, and Cecily and I are delighted to be among you.

Thank you for the support you have given the school over the past year.  Your contributions have really made a difference. We distributed $700,000 in scholarships to Pharm.D. students this winter. Scholarship dollars reward our best and brightest students and help us to recruit the most competitive applicants.

We have also been growing the faculty. Contributions to Vic Yanchick’s retirement gala have helped to create a professorship in geriatric pharmacy, which will enhance our already successful geriatric pharmacy program. We are also interviewing for a director of the Center for Compounding Practice and Research and hope to have an innovative leader directing that initiative in the near future.  Growth in funded research and the graduate program has created the need for a dean of research and graduate programs, and that search is underway. Hopefully, it will be filled in the very near future.

I am really pleased to share with you that VCU was awarded the 2014 C. Peter Magrath University Community Engagement Award for the Pharmacist Collaborative Care and Outreach in the Community program in the School of Pharmacy. This national award is presented annually by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities in recognition of outstanding community outreach and engagement partnership efforts by a four-year public university.  PCOC initiatives are integrated with service-learning courses, advanced pharmacy practice experiences, electives and interprofessional education experiences and demonstrate the immediate impact our faculty and students are having on the Richmond community.

Much of my focus over the next few years will be on growth in private philanthropy, and I will need your help. We need to secure funding for endowed professorships and chairs to grow key programs. I will focus particularly on pharmacy practice transformation as well as drug discovery and medical chemistry, clinical translational sciences, health systems and outcomes, and pharmaceutical drug development.

VCU School of Pharmacy has everything that is expected of a top pharmacy program, starting with faculty members who are among the best in the world and leaders in their clinical and scientific disciplines. I plan to do all that I can to enhance the quality of education and scholarship in the School of Pharmacy. I hope you consider joining me in this effort.

Joseph T. DiPiro, Pharm.D.
Dean, VCU School of Pharmacy
Archie O. McCalley Chair

Pharmacy: Faculty news

  • Sickle cell disease research by Don Abraham, emeritus professor, was featured in Nature, the weekly science journal, in a story about potential treatments.
  • Gretchen Brophy has received the Society of Critical Care Medicine’s 2014 Presidential Citation.
  • Peter Byron, chairman of the Department of Pharmaceutics, is handing the departmental reins over to interim chairman Douglas Sweet. Byron will remain as E. Claiborne Robins Professor.
  • Dean Joseph T. DiPiro has been named president-elect of the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy. He will serve as AACP’s 2016-17 president.
  • Dave Dixon is a recipient of the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy’s 2015 New Investigator Award.
  • Several retired faculty attended the School of Pharmacy’s Holiday Open House in December: Monty Kier, Bertha Rolfe (B.S.’47/P), William E. Smith, Eugene White (B.S.’56/P) and Victor Yanchick.

    Monty Kier, Bertha Rolfe and Gene White attended the School of Pharmacy's 2014 Open House.

    Monty Kier, Bertha Rolfe and Gene White attended the School of Pharmacy’s 2014 Open House.

  • Jürgen Venitz has been named chairman of the FDA’s Pharmacy Compounding Advisory Committee.

Pharmacy: VPhA scholarship in honor of SOP alumnus accepting applications

John C. Shilan

John C. Shilan

A memorial scholarship fund has been established in honor and memory of John C. Shilan, Pharm.D. (Pharm.D.’11/P). The scholarship fund will make awards to selected young pharmacists who have demonstrated an interest in added credentials enabling them to provide specialized patient care services based on additional knowledge and skill. “John’s young life was cut way too short; but this scholarship will keep John’s name and spirit alive in the future, by helping young pharmacists enhance patient care outcomes… just as John would have done,” said Kelly Hasty Kale, President of the VPhA Foundation.

The intent of the John C. Shilan Scholarship is to enable young pharmacists to achieve added credentials for specialized patient care services that enhance desired patient outcomes and create new models of pharmacy practice that, by example, can be emulated by other pharmacists.

  • Applicants must have graduated from an accredited school of pharmacy within the past 10 years.
  • Applicants must be providing patient care services to citizens of Virginia.
  • Applicants must submit letters of interest with resume and/or CV that include all elements described in the Application Instructions below.
  • The Academy of New Practitioners of the VPhA is encouraged to promote the scholarship program among its members
  • Membership in VPhA is encouraged, but not required
  • The scholarship award may only be used for post-graduate training and certification of eligible credentials (as identified below).
  • The scholarship is a one-time award of $1,000: $500 is payable directly to the pharmacist upon selection by the Shilan Scholarship Committee, and $500 is payable directly to the pharmacist upon submission of documentation of achievement of the credential.
  • From the date the scholarship is accepted by the recipient, the Foundation expects the award recipient to: achieve the added credential within a period of time not to exceed 12-18 months; implement the enhanced patient care services within 12-24 months; and share the new model of practice with the media and colleagues within 12-36 months. By the recipient’s example, other pharmacists will surely be motivated to emulate this new model of pharmacy practice. Achievement of all these milestones are expected within 36 months from the date the scholarship is accepted by the Recipient.
  • Applications will be due February 1st of each year.
  • The selected recipient will be notified by May 1st of each year.
  • Each year’s selected recipient will be announced at the VPhA Annual Convention.


Pharmacy: Dean to serve as president-elect of national pharmacy association

 Joseph DiPiro

Joseph DiPiro

Joseph T. DiPiro, Pharm.D., dean of the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Pharmacy, has been named president-elect of the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy. He will be sworn in at AACP’s annual meeting in National Harbor, Maryland, in July 2015 and will serve as president-elect until 2016. He will serve as president of the national association from 2016 to 2017.

DiPiro has been active in AACP on various committees throughout his career in addition to serving as the editor of the association’s flagship journal, the American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, for 12 years.

“It will be wonderful to have Dean DiPiro’s thoughtful leadership at our board table once more,” said Lucinda L. Maine, Ph.D., AACP executive vice president and CEO. “His insights on priorities across the academy have been finely honed.”

DiPiro joined VCU in July after serving as executive dean and professor for the South Carolina College of Pharmacy for nine years, where he built the research program of the college to its top 25 national ranking and fueled a large growth of the college’s endowment. He is the editor of “Pharmacotherapy: A Pathophysiologic Approach,” which, now in its ninth edition, is the leading market pharmacotherapy text.

At VCU, one of DiPiro’s chief objectives is to collaborate with other VCU Health Sciences disciplines to increase interprofessional education opportunities for pharmacy students.

Read more.

Pharmacy: MCV Alumni Association Hodges-Kay Service Award winner — Al Schalow


Alvin Schalow Jr. (B.S.’61/P) was presented with the MCV Alumni Association Hodges-Kay Service Award at the 2014 VCU Alumni Volunteer Service Awards on Oct. 24, 2014. Created in 1991 and named to honor the commitment and volunteer service of Francis Kay and the late Dr. Edward Hodges Jr., the Hodges-Kay Service Award was created to recognize MCV graduates and their support of the MCV Alumni Association. Schalow has strong ties and a long history of supporting MCV.

Schalow graduated from the School of Pharmacy in 1961 – and never looked back. He quickly developed his professional credentials and was recruited for the VCU/MCV preceptor program, and routinely trained senior pharmacy students at his practice throughout his career.

He became active in local, state and national professional associations, and was elected to top leadership positions in most. He has written and spoken widely on health care matters and in efforts to improve the efficacy of medicine use.

Fascinated with the field of Pharmacy and its long history, Schalow has created colorful programs on the field to present to both Pharmacy students and civic groups. In one, for example, he dresses in period costume to present “The Medicine Wagon: Quackery and Fads Yesterday and Today.”  He is now playing an integral part in the development of a history of pharmacy museum at the school, the Heritage Collection, that will appeal to students and history buffs.

Schalow has freely given the University his time over the years as lecturer and advisor. He spearheaded creation of the School of Pharmacy Scholarship Golf Tournament and still serves on the School of Pharmacy’s National Advisory Council. He has also devoted time, energy and resources to support the MCV Alumni Association. During his term as president of the association, he traveled widely to raise funds for the restoration of the Maupin-Maury House, now the home of the MCV Alumni Association.

Schalow has accumulated a host of honors and recognition from professional associations for his wide-ranging civic and professional accomplishments. As a top professional – both directly and indirectly he has brought honor and experience to the University and its alumni organizations.

Pharmacy: MCV Alumni Association Outstanding Alumnus winner — Marianne Rollings


Marianne Rollings (B.S.’63/P) was presented with the 2014 MCV Alumni Association Outstanding Alumnus Award at the 2014 VCU Alumni Volunteer Service Awards on Oct. 24, 2014. The MCV Alumni Association Outstanding Alumnus Award recognizes a graduate of the MCV Campus who is nationally recognized… Who is acknowledged by their professional peers for having made significant contributions to health care. Such recognition complements the achievements of Rollings to a tee.

Rollings manages to bring together her professional experience, her leadership within her profession, and her commitment to the University in a way that enhances all three.  Her leadership within the Virginia Pharmacists Association has not only been a factor in professional changes, it has affected the curriculum within the School of Pharmacy.

A leader through collaboration, Rollings has held top leadership roles in state and national pharmaceutical associations, and become known widely for her skills in governmental affairs. She was the first female member of the Virginia Board of Pharmacy, later its chair, and a member of the Virginia Board of Health Professions. She has led local, national and international efforts to train women in pharmacy for leadership.

In recognition of her success in promoting and encouraging pharmacists to attain leadership within the profession, she was awarded the prestigious Gloria Niemeyer Francke Award by the American Pharmacists Association. The APA has also named her a Fellow.  And she has been honored with the coveted Bowl of Hygeia Award for her community service.  Marianne has a passion for sharing the impact of gender differences on the effectiveness of medication therapy and has conducted or facilitated many programs on the subject for professionals, students and alumni.

A willing volunteer for alumni programs and activities for many years, she has been president of the Pharmacy Division of the MCV Alumni Association, and has served on its board and as president.

Pharmacy, Dentistry, Medicine: VCU Alumni Service Award winner — Ellen Byrne


Dr. Ellen Byrne (B.S.’77/P; D.D.S.’83/D; Ph.D.’91/M; H.S.’91/D) was presented with the VCU Alumni Service Award at the 2014 VCU Alumni Volunteer Service Awards on Oct. 24, 2014. The VCU Alumni Service Award recognizes a graduate who has made significant contributions to VCU Alumni.

Known to many as a VCU cheerleader, Dr. Ellen Byrne relishes involvement in alumni organizations and has assumed a variety of leadership roles. She has proven particularly effective in leading fund-raising efforts.

Byrne is a multiple VCU and MCV Campus graduate, and she has grown to really enjoy her many class reunions.  For example, she volunteered to lead fundraising for her 30th reunion for the Dentistry Class of 1983.  Through personal contact, leadership and meticulous follow-up, she led the class to donate more than $300,000 to the school.

Byrne has volunteered with the MCV Alumni Association since her first graduation in 1977.  She has had leadership roles in both the dental division and the basic health sciences division of the association. She was a key volunteer for the DentSim campaign that raised funds to bring dental simulation technology for first and second year students.

Byrne’s energy is not only valued on campus, but also within her fields of dentistry and pharmacology through extensive lecturing and scholarly publications. She leverages her standing within her field to promote the value of professional and alumni organizations.  Her professional contacts and personality not only open doors for her in garnering support for alumni activities, but they also give her real impact in reaching undergraduates as well.

Global Education: Something to be thankful for


Saxena, center, shared Thanksgiving 2010 with the Stovall family.

Thanksgiving is a uniquely North American experience, with families in the U.S. and Canada spending the day together and offering thanks for the good things in their lives over the previous year. Some families in the Richmond area have expanded the reach of their Thanksgiving celebrations by sharing those experiences with students from around the world who are studying at Virginia Commonwealth University.

“VCU has been doing this since at least the 1990s,” said Pam Haney, student engagement coordinator at the Global Education Office. “We try to connect international students with community members to broaden the experiences of the students and to help Americans learn about other cultures.”

“We make it a priority to get students into a home as we are able because statistics show that 75 percent of the international students who study in the U.S. don’t get into an American home while they are here,” Haney said.

Todd and Jill Vander Pol have enjoyed hosting VCU international students over the years and welcomed Karthik Hegde and Mithun Mathew, both from India, into their Glen Allen home this year.

“We moved here 25 years ago and at our first Thanksgiving, we didn’t have any family around.  It was Todd and me and our 2-year-old daughter,” Jill said. “I was determined to never have that kind of experience again and so we started inviting people in the same circumstances – people who didn’t have families in the area and had nowhere else to go.”

The Vander Pols have not spent Thanksgiving alone since. This year, 31 people joined them. Some years, as many as 40 have shared in the daylong celebration.

Each year, the Thanksgiving meal is served promptly at 1 p.m. and house rules require that plates are passed from person to person to promote a feeling of family, rather than everyone serving themselves buffet style. All guests are seated at one of three tables in the same room. The meal lasted about two hours.

Read more.