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USciences Celebrates Bicentennial Founders’ Day

By Jenna Pizzi

Published on February 23, 2021

The USciences community came together to honor its rich history on Tuesday, February 23, 2021, in a virtual ceremony to mark the Bicentennial Founding of the University. 

Two hundred years ago, on February 23, 1821, 68 prominent Philadelphia apothecaries gathered in Carpenters’ Hall to establish the basis for improved scientific standards for medications and sought a way to train more competent apprentices, thus establishing Philadelphia College of Pharmacy -- now USciences. This effort created the modern practice of pharmacy and brought about the birth of the pharmaceutical industry. The group ushered in a new era of the practice of pharmacy—the identification, selection, compounding, and analysis of drugs—and laid the foundation for a legacy of future advances and discoveries.

Kenneth C. FrazierThe 200th Founders’ Day Celebration included the awarding of an honorary doctor of science degree to Kenneth C. Frazier HonDSc’21, Chairman and CEO of Merck and Co, as well as acknowledgment of faculty, staff, and students with Awards of Merit. Bela Peethambaran, PhD, was also named to an endowed faculty position.

Dr. Frazier addressed the hundreds of alumni, faculty, staff, and students gathered for the virtual event, sharing an appreciation for the history of the University, the distinguished graduates who have innovated in their fields, and encouraged future graduates to continue in their footsteps. 

Dr. Frazier spoke to issues around access to quality healthcare in communities of color, empowering the USciences community, including many who are the first in their families to attend college, to continue to keep these individuals in mind as they move forward in their careers. 

“Your education is more than an opportunity - it is a gift. [It is] a chance to apply your skills and instill effective practices to the front lines of medicine to help overcome America’s healthcare divide and set our country on a new path,” he said. “Carry the unique knowledge and rich cultures to hospital administrations, research centers, and the pharmaceutical industry, championing those who are too often forgotten. As USciences scholars and agents you are destined to evolve our approaches and facilitate better outcomes for everyone we collectively serve.” 

Dr. Peethambaran was named the Abraham and Edyth Roth Chair in Pharmacognosy and Natural Products. Provost Jill Baren, MD, congratulated Dr. Peethambaran, saying, “her research integrates several disciplines including biology, cell biology, biotechnology, and pharmacognosy to investigate various genes that regulate the biosynthesis of natural products in plants.”

Zhiyu Li, PhD, was named the 15th annual recipient of the Faculty Award of Merit for his distinguished contributions as a researcher and teacher for the last 16 years at USciences. Dr. Li’s research focuses on the development of new, targeted drug delivery systems and he is the recipient of five U.S. and foreign patents. 

The Undergraduate Award of Merit this year acknowledged the efforts of two students -- Kishan Patel PharmD’23 and Daphne van der Molen ES’23, student-leaders of the Environment Conservation Organization. Under their leadership, the organization created a partnership between Philabundance, the region’s largest hunger-relief organization, and Sodexo, the University’s dining services provider. This led to the donations of more than 800 items of food. 

“As future healthcare professionals, these students have learned the importance of caring for patients beyond the practice site and have given back to the community in a meaningful way,” said Ross Radish, JD, Dean of Students and Vice President of Student Affairs. 

Amber Gunderwala PhD (Biochemistry) was awarded the Graduate Student Award of Merit for her research and leadership. She was described by her nominator as “the most outstanding graduate student the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry ever had” and has also conducted impressive research to develop a promising way to deliver targeted cancer therapy using BRAFF variants.

The 6th Annual Staff Award of Merit recipient is Barbara Siebert, DNP,CRNP,FNP-BC, CNE, Director of Student Health. Dr. Siebert was acknowledged for her work to excellently manage the COVID-19 pandemic on campus, her contribution to the Return to Campus plan, as well as screening, contact tracing, and education of the USciences community. 

Categories: News, Misher College of Arts and Sciences, Philadelphia College of Pharmacy, Samson College of Health Sciences, Alumni, Faculty, Graduate, Professional, Students, Staff, Event, Bicentennial, Feature Story