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David J. Slatkin 1942-2015

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David Slatkin, PhD, who served as the treasurer of the American Society of Pharmacognosy (ASP) for more than 30 years, passed away on November 16, 2015, at the age of 72 from complications due to Parkinson’s disease. Slatkin was an influential force in the field of pharmacy, serving as senior administrator or founder of several colleges of pharmacy, in addition to his long career at the ASP.

Born in Scarsdale, New York, on December 1, 1942, Slatkin earned bachelor’s degrees in chemistry and pharmacy from Wayne State University and Mercer University Southern School of Pharmacy, respectively. While at Mercer, he received the Merck Award from the university. He went on to earn his doctorate in 1972 from the University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy, where he was an American Foundation for Pharmaceutical Education – Edwin Leigh Newcomb Memorial Fellow.

In a memorial tribute co-authored by Paul Schiff Jr., PhD, Melany Puglisi-Weening, PhD, and John Cardellina II, PhD, for the ASP newsletter, Schiff recalls being an assistant professor at Mississippi during Slatkin’s time there. He recounts his first impression of Slatkin as “‘intelligent; focused; energetic; ambitious; likeable; and possessing an unmistakable kinesis in his actions and manner.’ Wherever ‘Slats’ was, things were happening!”1

Slatkin was appointed as a faculty member at Northeast Louisiana University in 1971 and subsequently moved to the University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy as assistant dean for student affairs in 1973, a position he held until 1991. During his tenure at Pittsburgh, he, along with Schiff and Joseph Knapp, PhD, “developed the concept of a ‘patient-oriented’ curriculum … [which] ultimately formed the basis for the development of many modular courses in PharmD curricula in the 1990s.” He continued to be involved in pharmacy administration, advising graduate students and founding three colleges of pharmacy: the Chicago State University College of Pharmacy (Downers Grove, Illinois) in 1991 and the pharmacy colleges at Midwestern University (Glendale, Arizona) in 1998. In 1981, he joined the staff of the ASP as treasurer, a position he held until his retirement in 2012.

In his tribute, Cardellina recalled: “At my first ASP meeting, hosted by David Slatkin, Paul Schiff and Joe Knapp in Pittsburgh in the early 1980s, David handled the financial aspects of that meeting with the same calm, focused demeanor that he did 30 years later. Over the next three decades, I came to know David better and my respect and appreciation for all he did for the Society grew exponentially.”

Slatkin took an active role in pharmacognosy research, authoring or co-authoring more than 80 research articles on a variety of subjects, and frequently serving as a reviewer for the ASP’s Journal of Natural Products and the Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences. In 1999, he was selected by the American Pharmacist magazine as one of the 50 most influential pharmacists in the United States, and, in 2004, he was the main organizer of the International Congress of Natural Products Research in Phoenix, Arizona. Chicago State University honored his long career by establishing a symposium in 2012 in his name.

Chris Ireland, PhD, former ASP president and dean of the College of Pharmacy at the University of Utah, was quoted as saying: “Working with David while I was President of ASP and throughout our many years together in the ASP was a true joy. David was the consummate professional when it came to managing the financial portfolio of the Society. He was a cautious but wise manager of investments and the society benefited greatly from his stewardship of our finances…. I greatly admire the scope of David’s understanding and commitment to professional pharmacy education. He will be greatly missed.”1

Friends and family remember Slatkin’s generosity, kindness, and devotion to his community and faith. Slatkin is survived by his wife of 49 years, Judy Slatkin; daughters, Laura Stoll and Stephanie Irgang; and six grandchildren.

—Hannah Bauman

Reference

  1. Schiff PL, Puglisi-Weening M, Cardellina JH. In Memoriam: Honorary ASP Member David J. Slatkin. The ASP Newsletter 2016;51(4):1-6. Available at: www.pharmacognosy.us/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/ASPN_XXII4_2016.pdf. Accessed January 27, 2016.