2012 UW Honorary Citation Report – Pyter

Citation recipient Dr. Richard Pyter with Dean Jeanette Roberts.

Citation recipient Dr. Richard Pyter (right) with Dean Jeanette Roberts.

Dr. Richard “Rick” Pyter received his BS degree in Pharmacy in 1973 and completed his required 1-year internship at St. Luke’s Hospital in Milwaukee, becoming a licensed pharmacist in 1974. However, during Rick’s last 2 years at the school, the research bug bit him while doing experiments on the levels of PCBs, DDT, and other pesticides found in water, sediment, and fish, while working part-time in the Water Chemistry Department. An interest in research resulted from his inherent sense of curiosity about how things work and a strong desire to be “state of the art” on the physical science principles important to the students and practitioners of pharmacy. Shortly after receiving his pharmacy license, Rick returned to the school to begin work on his MS then PhD degrees in Pharmaceutics based on his research related to solubilization and wetting of solid surfaces…an area of critical importance in the pharmaceutical industry.

In 1980, Rick was recruited to Abbott Laboratories by UW alum Jim Tingstad as a pharmaceutical research scientist and rapidly progressed into various leadership and administrative responsibilities for most, if not all, of the scientific, manufacturing, and regulatory aspects of dosage form design and commercialization. His experiences ranged from working at the drug discovery/development interface, development of a variety of dosage forms for new and existing drugs, through providing technical support to the plants that manufactured the products that he and his colleagues designed. During a period of almost 30 years at Abbott, he received three prestigious Abbott Achievement Awards and three Executive Vice President Achievement Awards for his innovative leadership in bringing important Abbott products to the market. In more recent years, he played a very important role in strategic planning at the global level.

Since his retirement from Abbott in 2007, Rick has been actively engaged as a consultant to the pharmaceutical industry on many technical and administrative issues, drawing on his vast experiences in the drug development process.

Throughout his career, Rick has shown a very natural interest in and affinity for teaching at various levels… “scratching a teaching itch” as he puts it. At Abbott, he was well recognized for taking a great interest in mentoring young scientists. On a more formal basis, Rick has held the position of Adjunct Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences at the School for well over 25 years, coming to Madison regularly to give lectures in the Drug Delivery course for professional students and interacting with graduate students and faculty in Pharmaceutics and Drug Delivery. Over the years, more than a handful of our best graduates were enticed to work within the Product Development arena at Abbott, so a very mutually beneficial relationship indeed.

One of Rick’s most important contributions to the School of Pharmacy has been his active participation in the establishment and organization of the Zeeh Pharmaceutical Experiment Station.  He was a key consultant at the time that the idea of re-establishing the Station was initiated and has served on the Scientific Advisory Board since its inception.  He was the Board Chair from 2006 to 2009 at a critical period in the Station’s development and growth. He also played a leadership role in the development of short courses for pharmaceutical scientists cooperatively offered by the Station and our Extension Services in Pharmacy Division and continues to serve as a member of the faculty for those courses.  Rick has also served a very important role on the school’s Board of Visitors.