Diane Burgess Appointed to Pfizer Distinguished Chair in Pharmaceutical Technology

Diane Burgess UConn Pharmacy
Diane Burgess, distinguished professor of pharmceutical science, at the Pharmacy/Biology Building on Aug. 24, 2018. (Peter Morenus/UConn Photo)

Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor of Pharmaceutics, Diane J. Burgess, has been appointed as the School of Pharmacy’s new Pfizer Distinguished Chair in Pharmaceutical Technology. The Chair, established in 2004 with a $2 million gift from Pfizer Inc., enables the School to appoint a nationally recognized researcher, scholar, and teacher who has made significant contributions to the field of pharmaceutical technology. The late Dr. Michael J. Pikal was the first Pfizer Distinguished Chair.

“I am thrilled and honored to be the second Pfizer Distinguished Chair of Pharmaceutical Technology,” says Burgess. “This endowed chair is extremely prestigious and will allow me to help grow research and promote teaching in pharmaceutical technology, thereby ensuring that our School remains at the forefront of this field. It will also be fun to work with Pfizer colleagues on workshops and other teaching activities, as well as continue old and start new research endeavors.”

Burgess received her B.Sc. degree in Pharmacy from the University of Strathclyde, UK in 1979, and her Ph.D. in Pharmaceutics from the University of London, UK in 1984. She was a postdoctoral fellow at the Universities of Nottingham, UK (1984-1985) and North Carolina (1985).  In 1986 she joined the University of Illinois in Chicago as assistant and then associate professor. She came to the University of Connecticut in 1993 as an associate professor, and was promoted to professor in 1999.  In 2009, she was appointed Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor.

“Dr. Burgess has outstanding credentials as a scholar, educator, and leader,” says James Halpert, dean of the School of Pharmacy. “She is recognized internationally as a pre-eminent scientist in the area of pharmaceutics, where her emphasis has been on the development of novel pharmaceutical technologies and improvement of formulation and delivery of small-molecule and biological drugs, as well as modernization of pharmaceutical manufacturing.”

Her work, a perfect fit for the mission of the Chair, has generated a total of more than $21 million in grants. For example, she recently received a $3 million Food & Drug Administration (FDA) grant to reduce the cost, as well as increase the reliability of manufacturing of complex drug dosage forms through the development of continuous manufacturing processes. This work will lead to improved product quality, and will ensure the supply of safe products at reduced cost to the public.

“In addition to being a brilliant researcher, Dr. Burgess is also very dedicated to education” says Jose Manautou, head of the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences. “Diane is an internationally recognized scholar and teacher who has made seminal contributions to the field of pharmaceutical technology. We are proud to have the means to recognize our internal talent in such a significant way.”

To date, Burgess has trained 37 Ph.D. students, a truly exceptional number for a faculty member in a school of pharmacy. She has also trained 18 postdoctoral fellows, 7 visiting research fellows, and 5 master of science students. All have gone on to make their own mark in the pharmaceutical arena, some as scientists conducting pharmaceutical research for corporations such as Pfizer Inc., others as employees of the FDA and elsewhere. Several of her mentees have become professors at universities both in the U.S. and abroad. You can learn more about Burgess’s team and alums on her website.

An industry leader outside the lab as well, Burgess has also served as president of the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists (AAPS) and of the Controlled Release Society (CRS). She has written two books, and has been the editor of the International Journal of Pharmaceutics, American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists PharmSci, and the Journal of Drug Delivery Science and Technology.

She was the 2011 recipient of the Nagai APST Japan International Woman Scientist Award, and the 2014 recipient of a Research Achievement Award from the AAPS. That same year, she received the AAPS Outstanding Educator Award in recognition of her training record.

In addition to her position at the UConn School of Pharmacy, and in honor of her overall contributions in pharmaceutical technology, Burgess holds appointments at two of the pre-eminent universities for pharmaceutical sciences in China: Peking University Health Sciences in Beijing, and Fudan University in Shanghai.

Burgess’s five-year term as the Pfizer Distinguished Chair in Pharmaceutical Technology began on Aug. 23, 2018. A celebration will be held this fall.