Al-Razi: The Persian Polymath

Contributed by Tameem Badwan, Class of 2019

Muhammad ibn Zakriya al-Razi, better known as Razi (or Rhazes) was a Persian “renaissance man” and a physician, alchemist, and philosopher. Born in 854 CE, he was alive during the Islamic Golden Age and was thought to have lived near what is now present day Iran.

He was one of the earliest proponents of experimental medicine, and actively practiced as chief physician of Baghdad. Razi is also credited as one of the first people to use the “four humors” to distinguish one contagious disease from another. He was ahead of his time in terms of healthcare and medicine, and is even said to have written a book about smallpox and measles in which he provides clinical characterizations of the diseases.

raziIn regards to pharmacy, Razi is said to have contributed in many ways, primarily by collecting and compiling texts in which he introduces the use of “mercurial ointments”. Mercurial ointments are ointments that utilized mercury, which was thought to possess many medicinal properties. Razi also contributed to the pharmaceutical profession by pioneering the use and development of tools such as mortars, flasks, spatulas, and phials, all of which were used in pharmacy until the early twentieth century.

Razi was also a strong believer in practicing medicine ethically. He attacked fake doctors and sellers of magic cures and potions. He tried to educate the public on the importance of questioning doctors, and often warned that even highly educated doctors did not have the answers to all medical problems and could not cure all sickness or heal every disease. This is important in regards to pharmacy because it is an issue that is emerging once again. With the emergence of the Pharm.D. degree, pharmacists are trying to educate the public that doctors are not the be all end all of medical treatment.

Razi was also interesting in the fact that he identified mental illness as a disease. Though he believed it was caused by demons. Razi was also a very successful author and is credited with many publications, including a medical book focused on pediatrics.

The impact of Razi on the pharmaceutical profession can still be seen today. Razi was one of the first to perfect various methods of distillation and extraction. Razi was also an avid alchemist, which can be seen as an earlier form of pharmaceutical compounding.




Benjamin Franklin Statesman and Apothecary

Contributed by Blanche Ndifon, Class of 2019

Many people know Benjamin Franklin as one the founding fathers of the United States who helped write the most powerful document known in this country, the Declaration of Independence, but if asked, very few people will know a thing about his medical and science interests or of any contributions he made in the profession of pharmacy.  It is very well established in the books of history what a great politician Benjamin Franklin was, but his influences as a health care professional and activist usually go unstated.

franklinOn January 17 of 1706, Benjamin Franklin was born in Massachusetts Bay Colony, what is known today as Boston. He was the last of fifteenth children born to his father (Josiah Franklin) and the fifth child born to mother Abiah Folger (Says, 19). He was a very brilliant child but, at the early age of ten years old, he had to become a full-time worker at his father’s candle and soap shop. At age twelve, he was an apprentice to his brother at a printer shop, where he developed an immense passion for reading, writing and publishing despite his brother’s religious efforts to repress Franklin’s love for publishing.  Escaping from Boston, Franklin went to live in Philadelphia. He then went on to publish his first pamphlet, “A Dissertation upon Liberty and Necessity, Pleasure and Pain,”(Author name, 2015 reference1). From his numerous publications, writing of everything from politics, weather forecast, and poetry to proverbs, he become a very prominent man and got several honorary degrees from Yale, Harvard and other international institutions. He rose so fast in the world of politics that in the year 1976, he was one of only five men appointed to draft the Declaration of Independence.

Benjamin Franklin also had a rooted interest in health. Knowing Benjamin’s love for science and community service, his good friend Dr Thomas Bond approached him with the idea of starting what will be the first Hospital and hospital pharmacy (then called apothecary) so that the colonies will not have to rely on British physicians and apothecaries (Penn Medicine, 2012 ).  Franklin bough into the idea almost instantly and began writing the petitions that will make sure that was possible. He nullified resistance from the Assembly appointed to handle the subject by accepting to raise part of the money to start and the assembly would have to match what he raised dollar for dollar. With his restless efforts, enough money was raised to begin the project. In the year 1952, the first hospital pharmacy was founded where Jonathan Roberts was appointed the first apothecary (Oldfield, 2014). Although medicine and pharmacy were   commonly practiced together back then, the establishing of a hospital apothecary helped made the distinction between the two professions and allowed for pharmacy to develop in its own right separately from medicine. Today the pharmacy is practiced independently of the medical profession with Pharmacists having defined responsibilities in patient welfare. Due to the input of a well respected man like Benjamin Franklin, today over 90% of the hospitals in the United States have inpatient pharmacies employing about a fifth of all pharmacists (Penn Medicine, 2012).

Franklin’s first son died at the age of four from smallpox and for this reason he was very big supporter of vaccinations and today vaccination is something that can be done by a pharmacist. Evidently his impact in the profession is still very much appreciated today.



  1. Benjamin Franklin: A Founding Father of Pharmacy. (2015, May 14). Retrieved September 26, 2016, from
  1. Pennsylvania Hospital History: Stories – Nation’s First Hospital. (2012, August 02). Retrieved September 26, 2016, from
  1. Says, T. R., & Says, A. (n.d.). Home. Retrieved September 26, 2016, from







10 Days Left! American Pharmacists Month 2016

Our UCSOP faculty, staff, and students are busy with activities that emphasize the role of the pharmacist in providing optimum patient care during the month of October 2016. This month is American Pharmacists Month, a time dedicated to celebrate all the contributions pharmacists make to health care. But, it’s also a time to provide community outreach and education about medication safety, medication adherence, and disease management.

P1070579This month, our students have organized health fairs, immunization clinics, and other outreach projects throughout the Kanawha County. Whether delivering Generation Rx curriculum to area elementary schools to help teach children about prescription abuse and medication safety or filling prescriptions at the Kanawha Charleston Humane Association, our students and faculty are dedicated to utilizing their skills and knowledge in ways that benefit our community.

With 10 days left in American Pharmacists Month, our students are busy planning and preparing for several events including:

  • Saturday, October 22 –  Providing health services at the RAMS Clinic in Elkview
  • Monday, October 24 – Friday October 28 SNPhA Power-To-End-Stroke Tweet-a-Thon #SNPhANoBarriers • @SNPhARegion2 • @UCSOP • #UCSOP
  • Thursday, October 27 Health Fair from 4-7pm at the YMCA
  • Saturday, October 29 CPFI & ACCP Trunk or Treat—Promoting Poison Control at the South Charleston Kroger
  • Monday, October 31 SNPhA’s Say Boo to the Flu! Immunization Clinic at Family Care, (West Side near Patrick Street)

Our students serve over 10,000 patients throughout the Kanawha Valley each year through their activities and health fairs. We are proud of the work they do and their focus on community and public health.




Pharmacy Students Help Prepare Medicines at Animal Shelter

Contributed by Amanda Miller, Class of 2019

When an area experiences any form of natural disaster our first instinct is to try and help the people affected by the disaster. However, humans are not the only ones in need of help. Natural disasters can also displace animals. After the floods that happened in West Virginia in June 2016, there were many animals that lost their homes or owners, and many became extremely ill. Luckily, the Kanawha Charleston Humane Association (KCHA) stepped up to help as many of these animals as possible.

kcha1Since June, KCHA has experienced a huge influx of animals coming into the shelter—many are extremely young and very ill puppies and kittens. In these cases these animals have to be separated from the general population of the shelter and require more intense care from the veterinarian and the staff that assists them. This increased need for medical attention has made it difficult for the veterinarian technicians at KCHA to maintain a supply of prepared medications.

In order to host kittens at the shelter, most need at least 4 different medications when they first arrive. This does not include the animals who are extremely sick and will need this care for multiple days or possibly weeks of care. That means if the shelter takes in 20 kittens who require this extra care, which may require as many as three doses a day, these kittens will need 420 doses of each medication for one week. That is a lot of medication to both prepare and give to these kittens. This is where student pharmacists have stepped in to help.

kcha2As pharmacy students we have experience with preparing medications. From our first year of pharmacy school we are taught how to compound medications and how to draw medicine appropriately into syringes. So, although we do not have the know-how on how to give these medications to the sick animals, we do know the medications they are being treated with. For American Pharmacists’ Month we at the University of Charleston School of Pharmacy (UCSOP) are volunteering our time to try and help KCHA prepare medications. By taking this extra workload off the veterinary staff, we are enabling them to spend more time actually treating these animals instead of having to spend their time preparing the medications. The veterinarian and veterinarian technicians have all been extremely thankful for our help because we have been able to help when they are in such direr need of help. Because we are training to become medication experts, pharmacy students are able to offer assistance for this specific area of need.

Our hope is to continue our relationship with KCHA and volunteer not only in October for American Pharmacists Month but year-round as well. Volunteering at the shelter not only helps the community but it allows pharmacy students to put their skills and knowledge into practice while helping our furry friends!

Historical Pioneers: Ian Frazer & the HPV Vaccine

Contributed by Kathryn Howerton, Class of 2019

Ian Frazer was born in Glasgow, UK in 1953. He attended the University of Edinburgh, earned his Bachelors of Medicine and Bachelors of Surgery degrees, and became a renal physician and clinical immunologist. In 1980, he moved to Australia to study viral immunology at the University of Queensland, where he began conducting research on cervical cancer (Ratner, 2001). Frazer was drawn to cervical cancer in particular because it is caused entirely by an infection with human papilloma virus, or HPV, and is one of the only cancers known to be caused by a virus (Frazer, 2008).

Frazer began studying the virus alongside his colleague and collaborator Jian Zhou. After studying the virus, Frazer and Zhou hypothesized that by creating a vaccine against the strains of the virus responsible, the rates of cervical cancer worldwide could be reduced by up to 70%. They designed a vaccine that would provide immunity against the “high risk” types of HPV: 6, 11, 16, and 18, which are the most aggressive types and the most likely to cause cancers or genital warts (Ratner, 2001). The final HPV vaccine is an inactivated vaccine made from the virus-like particles, or VLP’s, which were isolated from each of these four types of HPV and patented by Frazer and Zhou (Frazer, 2008).

The final vaccine, named Gardasil, was licensed by Merck in 1995, underwent clinical trials, and came to market in 2006.  However, Frazer has not rested on this achievement. He has since used his newfound fame to educate the world about cervical cancer risks, treatment, and prevention. He was named Australian Man of the Year in 2006, and used this position to advocate for more effective public-private partnerships for vaccine research and development (Ratner, 2008). His willingness to use his time and position to continue to advocate for public health shows his determination to eradicating the disease and helping to make the world a healthier place for the women and men who may be affected by HPV.

Despite all of his education efforts, it would seem that Frazer’s most important contribution to medical and pharmaceutical knowledge is still the incredible effect his vaccine has had on disease rates since its release. A study published in 2013 by the CDC announced that since the vaccine’s release, the prevalence of these 4 types of HPV had decreased by 56% in the US among teenage girls aged 14-19 (CDC, 2013). In the future, with increased vaccination rates and awareness, Frazer’s goal of eliminating cervical cancer due to HPV may be realized even sooner than he had thought. The research, development, and marketing that he has put into this vaccine have yielded incredible results even in the short time since its release. Ian Frazer’s work has had a remarkable impact on public health, and because of it, he can certainly be considered a hero in the world of pharmacy and vaccines.


CDC. (2013, June 19). New study shows HPV vaccine helping lower HPV infection rates in teen girls. Retrieved from

Frazer IH. (2008). HPV vaccines and the prevention of cervical cancer. Update on Cancer Therapeutics;3(1):43-48. doi:10.1016/j.uct.2008.02.002. Retrieved from:

Ratner, M. (2007). Ian Frazer. Nat Biotech, 25(12), 1377. Retrieved from

American Pharmacists Month Historical Pioneers: Louis Pasteur

Contributed by Kendra Hall, Class of 2019

Louis Pasteur was born in France in December of 1822 (“Louis Pasteur: The man who led the fight against germs,” 2016). Through childhood he was very interested in arts and loved to paint; however, his father, a sergeant major in the Napoleonic wars, pushed him to study hard. He attended Ecole Normale Superieure where he earned his master’s in 1845 and doctorate in 1847. While working on his doctoral dissertation on how crystals rotate planes of polarized light, he came to the conclusion that it was the internal arrangement to the molecules that caused the light to bend (“Louis Pasteur,” 2016). He started working at University of Strasbourg in 1848, where he continued his research into crystals light arrangement. In his research he discovered that molecules have mirror images and that living molecules always rotate the light to the left, also called left-handed (“Louis Pasteur: The man who led the fight against germs,” 2016).

Pasteur was the first person to realize that everything was not created from nothing. He discovered germ theory (“Louis Pasteur: The man who led the fight against germs,” 2016).  His theory was that sickness did not come from a “presence” but was actually very tiny organisms. When Antoni van Leeuwenhoek developed the microscope, he discovered there were tiny creatures in the sample of water he was viewing under the microscope. This was just the beginning to Louis’s discovery of the germ theory (Wellcome Library, n.d.).

Germ Theory is only one of the many things that Pasteur is known for. Pasteurization is yet another. He was tasked to find out why only some of the bottles of wine were spoiling on the way to market. What he found was that there was bacteria in the bottles. To solve the problem, he determined that the wine could be boiled at 55 degrees Celsius and it would kill the bacteria, but it would not deteriorate the quality of the wine (“Louis Pasteur: The man who led the fight against germs,” 2016).

His research took him in another direction. Developing a vaccine. Originally, he looked at anthrax but turned quickly to fowl cholera. He realized that exposing the body to a small amount of the disease (bacteria) the body would fight the disease and only have a mild reaction. This is how he discovered that attenuating the bacteria was needed. Attenuating caused a weakening of the bacteria that would still cause the immunity to build up but with little to no sickness. He proved this by growing cultures of fowl cholera and exposing lab chickens to it, the result was death as expected, but after leaving the cultures for several months and repeating the process the chickens became immune to the cholera with very little sickness (“Louis Pasteur,” 2016).

After this discovery, he went back to anthrax and tried the same thing. He vaccinated several animals in a two part series and left several more unvaccinated to test his theory. A few weeks after administration, he exposed all the animals to anthrax. Of those animals, none of the vaccinated died nor showed severe symptoms; while all the unvaccinated animals died two days later. Now that he knew he could develop vaccines, to prevent against these deadly diseases, he started looking at rabies. He successfully created a vaccine for rabies that he first tested in monkeys then rabbits. He then moved to infected dogs, to see if he could treat them for rabies and not just prevent them. Knowing of his success in the dogs, a mother begged him to give it to her son who had been bitten by a rabid animal. After some persuasion, he agreed to his first human trial and was successful (“Louis Pasteur,” 2016).

He was one of the most influential scientists in this era. Even though he was laughed at and mocked for his germ theory, he never gave up. His work on vaccines proved he was not crazy at all but that there really were tiny organisms that caused disease and that sickness did not just happen.

Works Cited

Louis Pasteur. (2016). Retrieved September 21, 2016, from historical-profile/louis-pasteur

Louis Pasteur: The man who led the fight against germs. (2016). Retrieved September 21, 2016, from

Wellcome Library, L. (n.d.). Germ Theory. Retrieved September 21, 2016, from http://www.


American Pharmacists Month–HeLa Cells: Impact on Modern Medicine & Vaccine Development

Contributed by Jovanny Gonzalez, Class of 2019, Fall 2016 History of Pharmacy 

helaHenrietta Lacks was born August 1920 to a family of farmers. Her upbringing was humble and with limited financial resources. Henrietta Lacks suffered from cervical cancer and while living in Maryland she visited John Hopkins University for treatment. A physician by the name of Howard Jones diagnosed and treated Henrietta and had samples of her cervix removed. Coincidently, at the same time research was being done on cell cultivation but scientist had a difficult time culturing cells for longer than a few days. Dr. George Otto Gey was the first person to come in contact with Mrs. Lacks cells and noticed that they proliferated and were durable. It was the first times in the scientific world were a group of cells replicated past a few days.


Read more about the importance of Henrietta Lacks in R. Sloot’s Book: The Immortal Life of Herietta Lacks

By 1955 Henrietta Lacks’ cells were known as HeLa cells. Scientist began to clone and mass-produce her cells for medical advancements. It is still unclear whether scientist received consent from Mrs. Lacks to use her cells for research but scientist state at that time there were no set regulations about patient consent it was considered natural to treat and use patient tissue to help the patient recover. One contribution HeLa cells brought to scientist was the ability to develop a vaccine for polio. Jonas Salk was the first to use HeLa cells and develop a vaccine for polio; and without HeLa cells that achievement may have been delayed.

The University of John Hopkins were it all began, acknowledged the impact and controversy HeLa cells brought to science by stating “Johns Hopkins Medicine sincerely acknowledges the contribution to advances in biomedical research made possible by Henrietta Lacks and HeLa cells. It’s important to note that at the time the cells were taken from Mrs. Lacks’ tissue, the practice of obtaining informed consent from cell or tissue donors was essentially unknown among academic medical centers. Sixty years ago, there was no established practice of seeking permission to take tissue for scientific research purposes. The laboratory that received Mrs. Lacks’s cells had arranged many years earlier to obtain such cells from any patient diagnosed with cervical cancer as a way to learn more about a serious disease that took the lives of so many. Johns Hopkins never patented HeLa cells, nor did it sell them commercially or benefit in a direct financial way. Today, Johns Hopkins and other research-based medical centers consistently obtain consent from those asked to donate tissue or cells for scientific research.” HeLa cells were cultivated worldwide and many scientist gained recognition by using Henrietta Lacks’ cells but her family did not receive any recognition nor any monetary gain. 

Even today, HeLa cells are being used to study new disease such as HIV and other viruses. Scientist continue to use HeLA cells in research to find remedies, develop vaccines, cure disease. Through HeLa cells, many major medical advancements have been and continue to be made.



  1. Picture


American Pharmacists Month–Polio Pioneer Dr. Albert Sabin

Contributed by Rachel Peaytt, Class of 2019 & Fall 2016 PHAR 546 Student

Albert Sabin was born on August 26, 1906 in Bialystok, Poland and passed away on March 3, 1993. He immigrated to the United States in 1921 with his family to New York. Sabin received his medical degree in 1931 from Bellevue Hospital and the Lister Institute of Preventive Medicine in London. Soon after, he traveled back to the United States to work.

Sabin began his work on the oral polio vaccine in 1939 after he started at a position as an associate professor at the Children’s Hospital Research Foundation at the University of Cincinnati. He soon formed the Department of Virology and Microbiology at the university, and this was the outlet, resources, and system of colleagues that he had to do his research on the vaccine. In 1958 and 1959, the vaccine that Sabin created was tested in millions of people. His formula was an oral vaccine that used a live but weakened version of the poliovirus, also known as an attenuated vaccine. The vaccine came into commercial use in 1961.

Albert Sabin’s polio vaccine was the second polio vaccine available to the United States. The first was an injectable vaccine of the inactivated poliovirus developed by Jonas Salk, MD in 1953. The polio epidemic in America was most serious from the 1940s to the late 1950s until the first polio vaccine was developed followed by Sabin’s oral vaccine. Polio paralyzed and/or took the lives of thousands of children and other people each year. Epidemics occurred around summertime and into early fall with no idea on how the virus was transmitted. Years later, it was found that the virus thrived in the heat and was transmitted by large bodies of water where people congregated, like swimming pools in the summer.

Salk’s vaccine was an injectable and inactivated vaccine that was 80-90% effective. Polio was still not eradicated after the administration of the Salk vaccine although it was proven “safe, effective, and potent” and saved thousands of lives still. It was not until after Sabin’s vaccine was developed and administered that polio was almost completely eradicated in the United States. Salk’s vaccine was entirely phased out by 1968. The oral polio vaccine was more beneficial since volunteers instead of trained professionals that had to inject it could easily give it. The Sabin vaccine was also relatively inexpensive. Both of these factors were paramount when it came to administering the vaccine to people in developing countries. Sabin’s vaccine was also safe, effective, and induced long-lasting immunity to all three types of poliovirus as opposed to Salk’s vaccine. Salk’s injectable vaccine only stimulated systemic immunity, instead of mucosal immunity, and therefore did not interrupt the transmission of poliovirus. Salk’s vaccine protected individuals from the symptoms that occurred with the virus only. This was the reason for its less than perfect effectiveness that still allowed transmission. Sabin’s vaccine, on the other hand, provided protection from person to person transmission and eventually led to the eradication of the poliovirus in the United States by 1979.

Worked Cited

Klein, C. (2014, February 28). 8 Things You May Not Know About Jonas Salk and the Polio Vaccine. Retrieved September 12, 2016, from 

Polio Place. (n.d.). Retrieved September 12, 2016, from


American Pharmacist Month Blog Series: Edward Jenner & The Cure for Smallpox

Contributed by: Jasiris Boccheciamp, Class of 2019, Fall 2016 History of Pharmacy

Edward Jenner is a prominent figure not only in pharmacy, but also in immunology and medicine. He was born on May 17, 1749 in Berkeley, Gloucestershire, England. His interest in science and nature started when he was a young boy. His journey in developing a vaccine for smallpox started once he began his career as an apprentice to a country surgeon. He became the apprentice of George Harwicke at the young age of 13, and this lasted until the age of 21. It was during this apprenticeship he noticed dairymaids did not contract smallpox, because they have been exposed to cowpox. Although it was a common belief at this time that there was a connection between smallpox and cowpox, Jenner became curious and wanted to discover why the dairymaids were protected from smallpox.


Edward Jenner (1749–1823). Photo courtesy of the National Library of Medicine.

After the completion of this apprenticeship, he went further in his studies in medicine and became a student of John Hunter, a famous surgeon, biologist, anatomist, and experimental scientist. He was under his teaching for two years and learned a lot about clinical surgery and pharmacy compounding by creating an improved method to prepare tar emetic (potassium antimony tartrate).

In 1796, he made his first stride towards eradicating smallpox. While thinking about his earlier encounters with dairymaids and their protection from this disease by being exposed to cowpox first, he came to the conclusion that in addition to cowpox being protective against smallpox, it could also be transmitted from person to person and be protective to them. In May of 1796, Jenner came across Sarah Nelms, a dairymaid, who had lesions on her hands and arms due to the cowpox virus. He was able to inoculate the virus and infect an 8-year-old boy by the name of James Phipps. Phipps suffered through a mild fever and discomfort around his armpit. His symptoms changed in a few days, and by Day 9, he felt cold and had decreased appetite. However, this didn’t last very long, and by Day 10, he felt better. Jenner inoculated Phipps with the smallpox virus 2 months later, and no disease developed. This was the first major step in eradicating the virus because he had supporting evidence that the cowpox virus did indeed provide protection against smallpox.

With his first official experiment under his belt, he decided to spread the news of this discovery with others by writing a short paper to the Royal Society with details of his experiment in 1797. The paper was rejected, but Jenner believed he was on the verge of something great, so he continued his experiments. In 1798, he privately published a small booklet on his findings. He then took one step further in his research by going to London and looking for volunteers to vaccinate. In 1799, Jenner was able to distribute the vaccine through the help of Drs. George Pearson and William Woodville by distributing this vaccine to their patients. He conducted a survey that confirmed his initial theory. The vaccine later spread to other European cities until reaching the United States.

Edward Jenner was a remarkable figure who was driven by his curiosity and determination. His background in medicine was a stepping stone in the development of a vaccine against a viral disease that is now eradicated. He performed the world’s first vaccination, and this paved the way for the development of all of the vaccines that are available today and are available to be administered by pharmacists. Edward Jenner was a trendsetter in his own right, and his contribution to the world of medicine and pharmacy is immeasurable.

Works Cited:

Riedel, S. (2005). Edward Jenner and the history of smallpox and vaccination. Proceedings (Baylor University. Medical Center), 18(1), 21–25.

UCSOP American Pharmacist Month Blog Series

During October 2016, University of Charleston School of Pharmacy students enrolled in our History of Pharmacy elective will contribute blog postings on vaccine development and historical figures and pioneers in medicine and pharmacy who helped make immunizations against disease possible. The posts will approach the subject of vaccine development from a historical perspective but will also share how groundbreaking developments of the past, impact prevention of disease in the 21st Century.

The course, led by Dr. Susan Gardner, assistant professor and assistant dean for professional and student affairs, focuses on the study of t medical and pharmaceutical research and development from the ancient times to the current day.

Questions about the course or the month’s blog postings can be directed to Dr. Gardner via email:

We also encourage you to visit: if you are interested in learning more regarding the history of vaccines.