Rutgers University’s Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy (EMSOP) readied Glenn Van Buskirk for a career in nonclinical drug development. Now he’s paying that forward.
By Rick Hampson
Throughout most of his years of pharmaceutics studies at Rutgers, Glenn Van Buskirk worked full time to support his young family while juggling his academic courses and 12+ credit-hour labs.
“Thank God I was young!” Van Buskirk PHARM’69, GSNB’73, GSNB’79 says with a laugh—but he’s equally quick to thank the school for “embracing work experience,” an aspect of its culture that went beyond simply accommodating part-time students.
“I received a wonderful combination of academic knowledge and practical experience,” says Van Buskirk, who was already a scientist at Ciba-Geigy when he began work on his doctorate. That mix helped him thrive in subsequent top leadership positions at Purdue Pharma, where he was vice president of Nonclinical Drug Development, Novartis, and the R. W. Johnson Pharmaceutical Research Institute.
Perhaps no one embodied the Rutgers philosophy more than pharmaceutics legend Nicholas Lordi, who frequently asked students to coteach his classes. Lordi, a professor emeritus who died this past fall at age 92, schooled generations in the essentials of drug manufacturing, drug delivery, and other aspects of preparing or readapting medicines for market, but he never worked in the pharmaceutical industry himself. “Dr. Lordi realized that he had the theoretical knowledge, and we, the students, had the practical experience,“ Van Buskirk says.
Van Buskirk, in turn, has achieved distinction in his field by upholding the high standards set by Lordi and other professors at Rutgers. Through publications and other leadership efforts for organizations such as the Product Quality Research Institute, for which he served as treasurer and a member of the Manufacturing Technical Committee, he has been an international industrywide champion for high-quality chemistry, manufacturing, and controls documentation. For example, as an officer at the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists, he promulgated scale-up and post-approval changes guidelines.
After leaving Purdue in 2005, Van Buskirk ran his own consultancy, Nonclinical Drug Development Consulting Services, working mostly on pharmaceutical patent litigation.
Regardless of where he’s worked, mentoring and hiring EMSOP students was always “one of the best things about my job,” he says. “I’ve been amazed by how intelligent, hard-working, and engaged they are. I’ve learned more from them than they have from me. It’s a blessing to know them.”
Not surprisingly, given the challenges he faced during his own student days, Van Buskirk and his wife, Leslie, also have endowed two EMSOP scholarships, including a fund specifically for students enrolled in the Educational Opportunity Fund (EOF) program.
“To anyone else who’s thinking about it, I’d say these scholarships are worthwhile to fund.”
Story originally published in Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy—The Annual Magazine for Alumni & Friends 2023
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