Leslie Z. Benet Receives Highest Honor in Pharmacy

By Mitzi Baker

Leslie Z. Benet, PhD, a professor in the UCSF School of Pharmacy, has received the highest accolade bestowed by the American Pharmacists Association.

The association announced its 2016 Remington Honor Medal last week, honoring Benet, a professor in the departments of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences and of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, for his substantial scientific and public service contributions to the field of pharmacy.

“It is very touching to me to win an award that is almost never given to a basic scientist. To me, it means that the selection committee believes that my work has impacted the entire profession of 300,000 pharmacists in the United States in terms of how they practice their profession,” said Benet, who was also the first PhD to win the annual UCSF Distinguished Clinical Research Lecture Award (now called Faculty Research Lecture – Clinical Science).

Benet has been at UCSF for more than 50 years, earning his PhD in pharmaceutical chemistry here in 1965. For 20 years until 1998, he served as chair of the Department of Pharmacy (later Biopharmaceutics), which is now Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences, a joint department of the Schools of Pharmacy and Medicine. 

Benet is one of the most widely-cited pharmaceutical scientists in the world, authoring more than 540 publications that have been referenced more than 30,000 times in other publications.

His major contributions to the field began in the 1970s with his research on how the body responds to and eliminates drugs. “Understanding drug interactions and speed of elimination allows quantitative adjustment of drug dosage, and these are the kinds of things we need to know to do precision medicine,” said Benet, who noted his pride that his classroom teaching is entirely subject matter that he has developed over his research career.

One of the letters in support of Benet’s nomination said: “Dr. Benet touches the lives of every practitioner who makes decisions about the dosing of any drug. … His lifelong work as a pharmacist and scientist has provided all pharmacists with the ability to translate bench pharmacology into clinical drug application for improved patient care.”

The Remington Honor Medal was established in 1918, named for Joseph Price Remington, an academic and practicing pharmacist of the late 19th century who authored The Science and Practice of Pharmacy, a tome that remains to this day a standard professional text in American pharmacy schools.

Benet will be recognized on March 6 at the Remington Honor Medal banquet during the American Pharmacists Association annual meeting in Baltimore.

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