East Hawaii News

Pharmacy School Dean Pezzuto Leaving Post

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The founding dean of the University of Hawaii at Hilo’s pharmacy school is leaving at the end of the year to take on a top role at a New York university, UH-Hilo officials said today.

John M. Pezzuto has shepherded the development of the Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy since its inception in 2006.

Pezzuto came to Hilo from Purdue University where he was a professor and dean of the College of Pharmacy, Nursing and Health Sciences.

UH-Hilo officials note that when Pezzuto arrived in Hawai`i, the pharmacy school had no offices, no staff, no students and no assurance of a future.

They said he methodically assembled a staff of world-renowned faculty who would build the school into what is now a contender for one of the top-25 ranked colleges in the US.

The college recently had its fourth class of graduates, the latest consisting of 84 students achieving their doctorate degrees in pharmacy or “PharmDs.”


He also leaves the school on much firmer footing than in recent years. After several years of intensive lobbying efforts on the part of the university and community, the state Legislature this year appropriated $33 million for a permanent home for the college, which has been operating out of temporary facilities.

When he leaves UH-Hilo, which has the only pharmacy school in the Pacific, his next destination is the Arnold and Marie Schwartz College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences at Long Island University in Brooklyn, NY.

Pezzuto, 63, said he came to Hilo to take up the challenge of “starting a college of pharmacy where there was none before.”

“My wife Mimi and I and our three children have cherished our time in the Aloha State,” he said in a statement. “The decision of taking these next steps has been extraordinarily difficult.

“But LIU is one of the oldest pharmacy programs in the country, and I feel that I am uniquely suited to help them reach the next levels of preeminence.”


UH-Hilo officials said they are sorry to see Pezzuto go but are appreciative of his many efforts.

“It has been a great pleasure working with someone of Dean Pezzuto’s caliber,” said Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Matt Platz. “This is sad news for the University of Hawai`i at Hilo, but because he has worked diligently on preparing the College for this day, I am confident we are ready for the next steps.

“I have no doubt his name will live on in the future of our College, and we are grateful for the work he has done to get us to this point.”

In addition to holding several patents, Pezzuto is also a prodigious author, with more than 500 published manuscripts. He is also the editor of four books, a member of more than 10 editorial boards of international journals, and the editor-in-chief of the journal “Pharmaceutical Biology.”

Most recently, he was given the top research award from the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy, as well as an award from the Cantine Due Palme in Italy for outstanding contributions in the field of research and culture.


He is well-known for his research that identified the cancer-preventive component of grapes and grape products known as resveratrol.

After the research report was published in Science Magazine in 1997, many more stories in scientific journals as well as mainstream media focused on the discovery that gave real promise to the fight against cancer.

According to the Web of Science Core Collection, his work on resveratrol has been cited more than 3,000 times.

UH-Hilo will conduct a nationwide search for Pezzuto’s replacement.

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