Pharmacy gains VFW endowment

by Kelly Hildebrandt

Along with a bundle of prescription pads, a newly appointed professor in the School of Pharmacy will bring a $3.8 million endowment — the largest in the school’s history — to the University Sept. 1.
Joseph Hanlon, an associate research professor at Duke University Medical Center, is the first person to receive the endowment from the Veterans of Foreign Wars Endowed Chair for Pharmacotherapy in the Elderly. The endowment will further Hanlon’s studies on drug therapy for the elderly.
“This is just one of the many positive aspects of the VFW and what we do,” said Al Glass, commander of the Charles R. Knaeble Post in Crystal, Minn.
VFW volunteers like to see the money they help raise contributed to educational institutions active in valuable research, Glass added. The possibility that developments in the field of aging made by researchers like Hanlon could benefit veterans in the future is simply a bonus, he said.
While this is the first year it focuses on pharmacotherapy for the elderly, the VFW Endowed Chair was created in the mid-1980s. To create an endowed chair, a person or group puts up a certain amount of money, and the University matches the sum. The interest from the endowment then supports the research of the faculty member to whom it is awarded, said College of Pharmacy Dean Marilyn Speedie.
“The VH has been a leader in creating health programs to develop care for the elderly,” said Hanlon, who worked at a veterans’ hospital in North Carolina for 10 years.
While at Duke University, Hanlon was a senior fellow in the Center for the Study of Aging and Human Development.
Hanlon said he researches drug-use patents as they pertain to the elderly population. At Duke University, Hanlon was involved in a number of studies in this area. He will be continuing his work in Minnesota.
One of Hanlon’s studies is on thinking and memory problems for the elderly. The study focuses on the drugs the elderly take and whether those drugs proliferate memory problems.
Hanlon also studies inappropriate prescribing methods. “Certain medicines, when used in certain ways, should be avoided,” Hanlon said.
Hanlon noted the College of Pharmacy’s ranking as one of the top five pharmacy schools in the nation as a reason for coming to the University.
He also said coming back to a school of pharmacy will be a “way to go back to roots for me” after working in the medical center at Duke.
“I think it’s a wonderful opportunity to consolidate (the school’s) effort in the aging area,” Speedie said. “I look forward to him doing great things.”
— Staff Reporter Ingrid Skjong contributed to this report.