Pharmacist of Year, Meritorious Service Awards
College Honors Alumna Julie Spier, Professor Chow During Mading Society Event
October 13 — UHCOP Dean F. Lamar Pritchard presented the college's 2023 Alumnus Pharmacist of the Year Award to Julie Spier, R.Ph. ('86), and the 2023 Meritorious Achievement Award to Diana S-L. Chow, Ph.D., FNAI, during the 2023 Mading Society Induction & Dinner Oct. 6.
Spier started her career as a Randalls pharmacist, rising through the ranks to her current position as director of pharmacy operations for the Southern Division of Albertsons-Randalls-Tom Thumb chain of grocery store-based community pharmacies. In this role, Spier oversees more than 150 pharmacies in Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas.
She has been an active member of the Texas Federation of Drug Stores (TFDS) since 2006, not only serving on its board of directors, but also as secretary/treasurer, vice president and president. During this time, she also served on the Texas Pharmacy Congress, a body comprising representatives of the TFDS, Texas Pharmacy Association, Texas Society of Health-System Pharmacists, and Texas State Board of Pharmacy and the deans of the state’s pharmacy schools, to discuss topics related to the pharmacy profession and academy.
In 2018, Spier was appointed by Texas Governor Greg Abbott to the Texas State Board of Pharmacy, then appointed president of the regulatory body a year later. In this role, she also has represented TSBP on the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy.
Spier is a past chair and co-chair of the UHCOP Dean's Advisory Council under two administrations. Her alma mater previously honored Spier with its Volunteer of the Year, Retail Preceptor of the Year, Distinguished Service, and Dean's Special Recognition Award (twice), as well as named among the 50 Outstanding Alumni during the college's 50th anniversary celebrations in 1996-97. In 2022, she served on the college's 75th anniversary planning committee and as co-emcee of the anniversary gala. Spier also serves as a frequent lecturer in the college.
"Julie has been a loyal friend and champion not only for the college, but for the entire pharmacy profession," Pritchard said. "Whenever the college or the professional community has called, she has answered with enthusiasm, charm and wisdom. Our college and profession are stronger for her leadership and commitment to excellence in patient care and moving pharmacy forward."
Chow serves as John J. & Paula Lovoi Sr. Endowed Professor of Drug Discovery and Development, professor of pharmaceutics and director of the Institute for Drug Education and Research. A UHCOP faculty member since 1981, Chow is an internationally recognized expert in pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics with more than 10 U.S. and international patents.
Among these are patented formulations of busulfan (IV Busulfex™), an intravenous pre-transplant conditioning agent approved by the FDA in 1999 and, at its peak, was used in more than 40 countries and in 65% of all acute leukemia patients undergoing transplantation in North America. The drug resulted in a 10-fold reduction in three-month post-transplantation patient mortality, as well as one of the most profitable patents in revenue for UH. Chow and her IV Busulfex™ co-inventors were recognized with the Houston Intellectual Property Law Association's Inventor of the Year Award in 2009, and she was designated a Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors in 2015.
She has authored or coauthored more than 200 peer-reviewed journal articles, abstracts and national/international presentations. Her research has been supported by such organizations as the National Cancer Institute, NASA and, as a member of the North American Clinical Trial Network, the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation and the U.S. Department of Defense.
Chow has trained and mentored nearly 50 doctoral and master's degree program students as well as dozens of postdoctoral fellows, visiting scholars, and professional and undergraduate students. Frequent winners of presentation and/or travel awards during their time in Chow's lab, her former students have secured highly placed positions in academia and the pharmaceutical industry. She was honored with the UH Outstanding Graduate Mentor Award in 2021 and, as the UH nominee, received the same honor from the 130-member Conference of Southern Graduate Schools in 2022.
"Dr. Chow is simply a treasure in every sense of the word, a tireless mentor and teacher, a highly focused and disciplined researcher, and a generous supporter of future pharmacists and researchers," Pritchard said. "Her impact on her students, fellow faculty members and patients around the world cannot be overstated, and we are truly blessed to count her among our college family."