2017 UW Honorary Citation Recipients


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Yusuf Abul-Hajj

Dr. Yusuf Abul-Hajj, 2017 Honorary Citation Award recipient

2017 Honorary Citation of Merit Award recipient
Yusuf Abul-Hajj, PhD

Yusuf Abul-Hajj was born in Jerusalem, Palestine. He earned his bachelor’s in 1962 and his master’s in 1964, both from American University of Beirut. He moved to the United States and earned his PhD from the University of Wisconsin’s College of Pharmacy in 1968. He was then recruited to the College of Pharmacy at the University of Minnesota by Dean Lawrence Weaver. Dr. Abul-Hajj rose through the ranks to full professor in 1980. He was chair of the departments of Medicinal Chemistry and Pharmacognosy, and subsequently head of the Department of Medicinal Chemistry. During his tenure as a Department Head he added new faculty positions in several areas including computer-assisted drug design, molecular targeting and site directed mutagenesis, structure-based drug design, carcinogenesis and mass spectrometry, and several positions in cancer experimental therapeutics.

Dr. Abul-Hajj was responsible for establishing several endowments from royalty revenues received from the drug Ziagen, which was discovered by Robert Vince. These included the Vince Endowed Chair in Medicinal Chemistry, the Graduate Student Fellowship Fund, the Medicinal Chemistry Infrastructure Fund and the Drug Design Center Fund. Some of these resources were instrumental in the establishment of the Institute for Therapeutics Discovery and Development, a comprehensive academic drug discovery center.

Dr. Abul-Hajj dedicated himself to the education of the next generation of pharmacists and drug design researchers by training numerous graduate students and post-doctoral fellows, as well as serving as the Director of Graduate Studies and receiving a doctoral training grant from the National Institutes of Health.

Dr. Abul-Hajj co-authored the book From Digitalis to Ziagen, which covers the history of Medicinal Chemistry at the College of Pharmacy at the University of Minnesota. his research has primarily concerned the relationships between estrogen and cancer. More specifically, he has investigated how tumors can transform cholesterol into estrogen, the development of alternative treatments for breast cancer, specifically aromatase inhibitors, and how estrogens are involved in carcinogenesis.

Dr. Abul-Hajj has received many awards and recognition throughout his career including the Lawrence and Delores Weaver Medal from the University of Minnesota, He also is a Fellow of both the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Chemical Society and served as Senior Editor for the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry from 1995 to 2012.

Franklin (Rocky) LaDien

Rocky LaDien, 2017 Honorary Citation Award recipient

University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Pharmacy Citation of Merit Award recipient
Franklin (Rocky) LaDien

Pharmacist Rocky LaDien graduated from UW in 1977.He began his career as a hospital pharmacist at Deaconess Hospital in Milwaukee from 1977 through 1980. After working at Deaconess, Rocky held a four-year position in long term health care at Mt. Sinai Nursing Home in Glendale. During these early years in pharmacy, Rocky always had a passion for retail pharmacy. He continued to work as retail pharmacist on a part time basis.

After working several years as a staff pharmacist with Snyder Drugs, Rocky transitioned into a 31-year career with Walgreens. He currently serves Walgreens as an Area Healthcare Supervisor responsible for 80 pharmacies in Eastern Wisconsin.

Rocky is particularly proud of his many professional relationships established through his forty-year career. Rocky has enjoyed his collegial relationship with UW, often serving as guest lecturer focusing on law, ethics and management. As past president and longtime member of the Pharmacy Alumni Association, Rocky has played an integral role by serving on the re-accreditation committee, diversity committee and has mentored over a hundred pharmacy interns. Annually you will see Rocky leading a number of pharmacy student career events – shaping and guiding the future pharmacy career pathways of UW students. With the resources from a National Institute of Health grant, Rocky and his colleagues, Dr’s Bonnie Svarstad and Eva Vivian have made great strides in the Madison-Milwaukee communities serving African American patients. The focus of their intervention was to improve the effective treatment of hypertension within this population. Results have been posted on the UW School of Pharmacy Team Study website.

Maximizing another strong professional relationship with Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, Rocky and his colleagues have positively impacted the lives of sexually abused children. Through their partnership with Walgreens these children now receive an adequate 30-day supply of HIV drug coverage. Through this program the adherence rate for these children has successfully improved from 40 to 92%. A beneficial outcome that has long-lasting life implications for these sexually abused children. Rocky’s active involvement with the Pharmacy Society of Wisconsin played a key role in his appointment to two consecutive terms on the Pharmacy Examining Board. Not only is Rocky serving as Board Secretary, he is also an active member on the Screening Panel Committee and Rules Committee.

Recently, Rocky collaborated with the UW School of Pharmacy’s Clinical Associate Professor Eric Buxton and PSW‘s Vice President of Professional and Educational Affairs, Sarah Sorum. As a result of that collaboration, Wisconsin now has the only Continuing Education course that teaches pharmacists proper injection techniques for many non-vaccine therapies, such as long acting anti-psychotic medications and drug withdrawal therapy.

Rocky is thankful to his family and to his professional colleagues for supporting him in his passion for helping others. With this tremendous encouragement and his own personal drive, Rocky has no plans of stopping soon.

Robert L. Sowinski

Robert L Sowinski, 2017 Honorary Citation Award recipient Robert L Sowinski

2017 Citation of Merit Award recipient
Robert L Sowinski

Robert L. Sowinski is a Wisconsin native, who graduated from the University of Wisconsin, School of Pharmacy in 1975. He held a number of management positions with the Stein Drug chain, which operated 21 stores throughout Wisconsin, including Director of Personnel, eventually becoming Vice President for Professional Services at the time of its sale to Walgreens in 1979.

Mr. Sowinski became a Partner and Vice-president in 1979 in a new company, EyeCare One Corp., that would carry on in further developing the experimental programs in vision care and home health care areas, started in the drug stores. In 1983, he became President and CEO of EyeCare One Corp. This company started and operated 18 retail optical centers (Stein Optical) in the Milwaukee area, a national ostomy mail order catalog business, a full service high tech home care and I.V. infusion therapy business with operations in Milwaukee, Madison and Appleton.

Mr. Sowinski started and was President/CEO of Vision Insurance Plan of America, a licensed vision insurance company that markets prepaid vision plans to employers through the Insurance Brokerage Network. He became Senior Vice President, in 1998, in charge of all retail operations for Vision Twenty-One, Inc., a publicly traded Physician Practice Management Company, managing three chains, 78 stores, $63 million in sales, as well as a Laser Vision Correction Center and associated ophthalmology practice, as part of the sale of EyeCare One Corp to Vision Twenty-One.

From 2000 to 2001, Mr. Sowinski served as the President of Substance Abuse Management, Inc., a Milwaukee based firm specializing in the management of Corporate Drug-free Workplace Programs. Objectives were to make the company profitable and assist the owner in the finding a buyer. The company was successfully sold in August of 2001.

From 2001 to 2014, Mr. Sowinski served as the CEO and President of Diversified Insurance Solutions, a full service independent agency specializing in employee benefits and property/ casualty insurance. He is currently Vice Chairman of Diversified, serves on the National Board of the National MS Society, and is Chairman of the Board of the Lutheran Home and Harwood Place in Wauwatosa.

Raymond D. Skwierczynski

2017 Honorary Citation Award recipient Raymond D. Skwierczynski

2017 Citation of Merit Award recipient
Raymond D. Skwierczynski

Dr. Skwierczynski earned the MS (1989) and PhD (1992) degrees in pharmacy from the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Pharmacy under the mentorship of Professor James Wright and Professor Kenneth Connors, respectively. He then completed a Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship with Professor Samuel Gellman at the University of Wisconsin Department of Chemistry.

His professional career included Vice-President and Head of Pharmaceutical Operations at CoLucid Pharmaceuticals, a Phase 3 clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company that developed Lasmiditan for the acute treatment of migraines. Before the acquisition of CoLucid by Eli Lilly and Company, Ray was responsible for drug substance and drug product development, manufacturing, and supply chain and served as a corporate officer. Prior to CoLucid, Dr. Skwierczynski had positions of increasing responsibility at Takeda Pharmaceuticals, Millennium Pharmaceuticals, 3M Pharmaceuticals, Roche, and Baxter.

Dr. Skwierczynski has excellent scholarly credentials including over 36 invited scientific presentations, over 30 poster presentations, seven publications and authorship of a chapter in Remington: The Science and Practice of Pharmacy. Furthermore, these scholarly contributions were made while working full-time for commercial organizations. His scientific contributions have resulted in 15 patents.

Dr. Skwierczynski has been involved with the School of Pharmacy’s Division of Pharmacy Professional Development programming since 1999 serving on the Planning Committee for many years and as Chair (2004) for the June Research and Development Land O’Lakes Conference. In 2001, he and Dr. Scott Smith created a short course on pharmaceutical stability and they have taught this course over 20 times for the Division, both on campus and at various pharmaceutical companies.

Dr. Skwierczynski is involved with scientific organizations, especially the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists. He has served in several leadership positions and will become Chair of the Association’s Manufacturing Science and Engineering Section. In addition, he has served as Vice Chair for the Pharmaceutical Dosage Forms Expert Committee at the United States Pharmacopeia and has contributed to the updating and creation of new public standards for the development of pharmaceutical dosage forms. He has served on the American Foundation for Pharmaceutical Education’s Board of Grants, the UW-Eau Claire Foundation and the Board of Directors for the Yankee Clipper Council of the Boy Scouts of America.

Dr. Raymond D. Skwierczynski is an exceptional alumnus of the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s School of Pharmacy and has established himself as a leader in drug development within the pharmaceutical industry.