July 12, 2003

Pioneer in Drug Therapy Leaves School of Pharmacy: Dr. Milo Gibaldi Instrumental in Transforming SOP into Premier Pharmacy School

Dr. Gibaldi has imparted his vast knowledge to his final set of students in Spring 2003 and has taken a new position this July in Chicago where he will be teaching at the Chicago College of Pharmacy and continuing with his research. He will remain a part of the UW SOP in an affiliate faculty role. He and his wife, Florence, were motivated to move to the windy city because of family ties and will live close to their daughter, son-in-law and grandchild in Chicago.

Dr. Gibaldi is excited to begin a new chapter in his career. He called leaving the UW School of Pharmacy “a wrenching decision because we’re exceedingly happy here, and I am very happy with the School. We have a lot of ties here, but I do believe it is the right thing to do.”

Though he will turn 65 this December, Dr. Gibaldi said retirement is not even on the horizon right now.

“I’m not at a point where I want to retire,” he said. “I simply want to continue to have contact with students and this is a nice opportunity to do that.”

Dr. Gibaldi says his style of teaching involves reaching out to all his students in a way that draws their varied experiences into the classroom discussion.

“I try to explain things to my students in a way that provides context,” he said. “I have a wide range of backgrounds and experiences, so I try to provide information that will be stimulating and satisfactory to the breadth of my students. I present some things that are on the cutting edge and then a basic context so people with less experience can be a part of the discussion.

“My students are very bright and very enthusiastic and inquisitive. I like them pressing for answers and wanting to go beyond the surface.”

Former School of Pharmacy Dean Jack Orr said Dr. Gibaldi was integral in making this School what it is today.

“Milo Gibaldi leaves an indelible footprint on the history of the School,” Dr. Orr said. “It was through his persistence that physical integration with the Health Sciences Complex was achieved. He brought to fruition 50 years of efforts to construct a ‘Pharmacy Wing.’”

Dr. Joy Plein, a professor in the Department of Pharmacy, called Dr. Gibaldi “a legacy at the School. Milo involved all the stakeholders, practitioners and faculty in the planning and the process, avoiding the resistance that many schools went through. He is a scientist who not only understands but also appreciates the role of pharmacy and the contributions of pharmacists in healthcare and society.”

Manoj Bajpai, ’96 is one alumnus who credits Dr. Gibaldi for influencing his career path and leaving a strong impression on him. While a Ph.D. student in the Department of Pharmaceutics about 15 years ago, Dr. Bajpai said he realized Dr. Gibaldi’s “humility, warmth and graciousness. Here was a world-renowned faculty member, Dean of the College, well respected in both academia and industry, and yet as approachable as an office mate to all students.” Dr. Bajpai now works as a research scientist at Amgen in Thousand Oaks, California.

He remembers his last day at the School and a very pivotal encounter he had with Dr. Gibaldi.

“As I was picking up my belongings and wrapping up last minute formalities, Dr. Gibaldi stopped by my office on his way home to wish me well. He said that I was ready, and I knew I was.”

Reaching as many students as he can is a driving force behind his Drug Therapy discussion group. Held once a week with about 150 students now enrolled, this discussion group gives Dr. Gibaldi’s students and other interested guests an opportunity to hear about new classes of drugs and learn how they are shaping the pharmaceutical industry.

His journal club gives yet another opportunity for more students to learn from this giant in pharmaceutical research in a more intimate setting.

“There is a lot of interaction with this group,” Dr. Gibaldi said.

When not teaching, Dr. Gibaldi is conducting extensive research into numerous drug therapies, something he intends to continue at the Chicago College of Pharmacy. A prolific author, Dr. Gibaldi has gained widespread notoriety for his in-depth research and leadership in the fields of pharmacy and medicine. He is considered one of the leading thinkers in medicine.

But when you ask Dr. Gibaldi what he considers himself, he answers immediately a teacher.

“I think of myself as a teacher, first and foremost. Even when I discover something in my research, I really get excited about telling my students about it.”

While teaching has earned him the respect and admiration of his students, it is his research and extensive literature exploring the merits of drug therapies that has led to his widespread recognition among his peers and the pharmaceutical community as a whole.

He has been showered with awards and distinct honors. His expertise in the area of drug therapies has brought him international acclaim. He was one of just seven U.S. scientists honored at the Millennial World Congress of Pharmaceutical Sciences in San Francisco in the year 2000, and back in 1986, he became one of only two pharmacists ever elected to the prestigious Institute of Medicine. A few years later, in 1991, he received the International Pharmaceutical Federation’s Erik Host Madsen Medal for those who have achieved distinction in the pharmaceutical sciences.

While widely honored for his contributions to pharmacy research and education, Dr. Gibaldi has been especially recognized for his contributions in pharmacokinetics (the study of what happens to a drug in the body after it is swallowed or injected).

As for his notable accomplishments at the UW School of Pharmacy, Dr. Gibaldi said there are three that come to mind.

He lists them as playing an instrumental role in making the UW School of Pharmacy into a premier pharmacy school, the development of a more clinically oriented curriculum, and finally overseeing the relocation of the School of Pharmacy into the Health Sciences Center.

As Dr. Gibaldi prepares his final lectures and pens his last research literature while on the UW School of Pharmacy faculty, he remembers what drew him to this School.

“I could tell that there was a very strong pharmacy community and a lot of innovation, and a willingness to try new things,” he recalled. “The faculty wanted to build a really good professional program, and they did.”

He believes that these same winning qualities will enable the SOP to continue to be a leading pharmacy school and highly relevant to the pharmacy industry.

“The School is in great shape. To use a sports metaphor, we have solid bench strength. We have great people here who can step in and do an outstanding job. The best is ahead of us.”

In honor of Dr. Gibaldi and his contribution to the School of Pharmacy, gifts toward an endowed fund in his name are being accepted. For more information, contact the Development Office at (206) 543-3485.