Former Professor and Head of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Dr. Philip Rosenberg, passed away on Sunday, March 28, 2021. He had been at UConn’s School of Pharmacy from 1968 until his retirement in 1998.
During his 29-year career at UConn, Rosenberg served as Head of the Pharmacology and Toxicology Program and became the first head of the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, which he held until his retirement. He also helped create the interdisciplinary neurosciences concentration at the School in 1982.
“I was fortunate to have met, worked with, and be mentored by [Phil] when I joined the faculty at the School of Pharmacy,” says José Manautou, current Head of the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences. “Phil was responsible for the reorganization of the three pharmaceutical sciences disciplines into a single department. Twenty-five years later, I am now continuing Phil’s legacy as department head; big shoes to fill. Phil was a highly dedicated scientist and educator, and a person with very high standards.”
Rosenberg’s leadership is coupled with his outstanding accomplishments in pharmacological research. He received the Javits Neuroscience Investigator Award from the National Institutes of Health in 1987, and the Distinguished Alumnus Award from Jefferson Medical College in 1989. The following year, he received the University of Connecticut Alumni Association Award for Research Excellence.
“Although I did not know Dr. Rosenberg personally, his impact on the School of Pharmacy is considered invaluable to its growth,” says Philip Hritcko, Dean. ” Finding ways to provide new opportunities for students while doing breakthrough research is challenging but Dr. Rosenberg did it remarkably.”
In 2004, Rosenberg was honored alongside Professor of Toxicology, Dr. Steven D. Cohen by alumni, friends, and family members of the Pharmacology/Toxicology Graduate Program. Celebrating their distinguished careers and contributions to the field, then Dean Robert McCarthy announced the Philip Rosenberg and Steven D. Cohen Graduate Fellowship in Pharmacology/Toxicology. This annual award is given to an outstanding graduate student in the Pharmacology/Toxicology Ph.D. program that exhibits scholarly research and involvement in the pharmacy community.
Cohen, now a UConn Emeritus Professor of Toxicology, shares a reflection below:
Dr. Philip Rosenberg was a colleague, mentor and good friend. He recruited many faculty to the School of Pharmacy and during his long tenure as head of Pharmacology & Toxicology he oversaw its growth into a well-funded graduate education and research program of national and international stature. This was evidenced through both intramural and extramural research and graduate education collaborations, top scientists visiting for seminars, many industry and government scientists providing lectures, and research internship experiences, and fellowships for our graduate students. Dr. Rosenberg had a hand in all of this, working behind the scenes to create new opportunities for faculty and program growth. He was also instrumental to our development of an NIH-funded, interdepartmental, graduate and postdoctoral research-training program in Toxicology at UConn-Storrs. It included students and faculty from several campus departments. He set high standards for his faculty, graduate and professional students, and also for himself. He encouraged all faculty to dedicate their efforts to excellence in teaching, scholarly research and professional service. He led by example and was an outstanding, yet challenging teacher. Pharmacy students who benefited from this will never forget his “True, True and Related” multiple choice questions that required absolute mastery of the subject for success. He was world-renowned for his cutting edge, well-funded research, to better understand how natural toxins, e.g., venoms, produced their devastating effects on the nervous system. He cared about his faculty and students and could often be found in the laboratory working with members of his lab group. His professional service contributions, beyond his responsibilities at UConn, were exemplified, by his work as editor of the scientific journal, Toxicon. It is a publication of the International Society on Toxinology, for which Dr. Rosenberg served as president from 1988-1991. Related to this, our Pharmacy students loved his annual lecture on natural toxins, where, in addition to explaining how the toxins worked, he gave practical information about treatment of venomous bites. His sense of humor always came through in this serious lecture that was delivered as he wore a snakeskin tie and belt, a tarantula on his lapel and other creatures on rings or hanging on his coat. I personally am most grateful to have had Phil as a friend and mentor for the 26 years we worked together at UConn, and to have shared the honor with him in 2004 at the establishment of the Graduate Fellowship in both our names. As department head or as a mentor, Phil would always take time to listen and share his wisdom. He would not make decisions for you but give sage advice to help you make your own choices. He was a remarkable and generous man who will be remembered fondly by students and colleagues alike. – Dr. Steven D. Cohen