2006 UW Honorary Citation Report – Robinson

Joe RobinsonJoseph R. Robinson (PhD ’66) passed away on Monday, September 4, 2006 at the age of 67. Robinson was the Kremers Professor of Pharmacy in the School of Pharmacy and Professor of Opthamology in the Medical School of UW Madison. He received his BS and MS degrees in New York in 1961 and 1963 respectively, and his PhD from the University of Wisconsin in 1965.

Robinson was a giant in the field of pharmaceutical sciences, probably the most recognized pharmaceutical scientist of our generation in the world. Indeed, Takeru Higuchi and Robinson were the most influential figures in pharmaceutics in the past forty years. Their leadership and vision changed the broader pharmaceutical field. In the last 30 years, Joe Robinson became the most vocal supporter of the physiochemical approach in the pharmaceutical field while stressing the importance of integrating biology. He was an inspiring speaker and an exceptional role model for all generations. Robinson was well recognized as an eloquent spokesman of the field and his plenary lectures at various recent meetings have become legendary.

Professor Robinson’s contributions were in several areas of pharmaceutical sciences, notably ocular and vaginal drug delivery, protein transport, bioadhesion and controlled release formulations. He had 35 years experience in forming new companies and consulting with the pharmaceutical industry. He was founder of three successful public companies, InSite Vision, Columbia Labs and Macromed, and his research and development of bioadhesive polymers was utilized and commercialized widely.

One of the most important contributions of Professor Robinson was as a mentor of over 90 graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, many of whom have become leaders in the industrial and academic pharmaceutical sciences. Robinson was himself an editor of the critically acclaimed French journal STP Pharma Sciences. He was also co-author of a number of great textbooks and monographs, including the pioneering 1978 book Sustained and Controlled Release Drug Delivery Systems, (Dekker), the 1980 Octular Drug Delivery(APhA), the classic Controlled Drug Delivery: Fundamentals and Applications (with Vincent Lee, Dekker, second edition, 1987), and numerous others. He was the author of 340 publications and gave more than 800 presentations.

He was internationally known and beloved for his leadership, scientific integrity, character and unending enthusiasm. He had widely taught and was loved by scientists in France, Germany, England, Spain, Italy, Turkey, Japan, India, Korea, Singapore, Argentina and many other countries throughout the world. He was awarded honorary doctorates from the Royal Danish School of Pharmacy in 1992 and the University of Sciences in Philadelphia in 2003. He served as a distinguished lecturer of numerous institutions.

Professor Robinson was also an inspiring leader of leading international organizations. He served as president of both the Controlled Release Society (CRS, 1991-92) and the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists (AAPS, 1992-93).

In mourning his untimely death, the whole scientific world pays tribute to the most inspiring scientist of the last quarter of the 20th century whose seminal contributions shaped the field and led to the drug delivery explosion of the last ten years. His vision, advice, leadership, enthusiasm and wit will be missed dearly!