150 Years of Pharmacy

December 20, 1991

In 1840, Baltimore had 77 pharmacies, many of them run by physicians employing apprentices. To educate these young men, the pharmacists founded the Maryland College of Pharmacy, fourth in the nation, which was chartered by the legislature in January 1841 and began class in a single room with one instructor and six students, three of whom went on to graduate in June 1842. The first American professorship in the theory and practice of pharmacy was established there in 1844.

After the 1846-7 school year, the school went dormant, only to be reborn in 1856 with 20 students, three professors and a scholarly journal. It has never looked back. Highlights of its history, in 13 locations, were the first required course in analytic chemistry for pharmacists, the first convention of pharmacy schools to set standards and the founding of the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy. In 1904, the school became part of the University of Maryland and, after a period as a department of the medical school, it re-emerged in 1920 as the university's School of Pharmacy.

All this year, the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy has been celebrating its sesquicentennial. Today it has more than 300 undergraduates (a three-year program for students who have had two years of college elsewhere) and 100 in graduate studies. Once all-male, today two-thirds of its undergraduates are female. It is devising an entry-level doctor of pharmacy program. It operates the Maryland Poison Center, a 24-hour emergency hotline: 528-7701 in metropolitan Baltimore; 1-800-492-2414 elsewhere in Maryland. It creates public education on drug abuse for the young and on problems of medicine for the elderly, among many specialties in which it has pioneered.

The University of Maryland School of Pharmacy has been an important part of medical research and education in Baltimore from the start. It has also been a pillar of scientific education and national standards in drug testing and research for the nation. It is schooling young pharmacists today in biotechnology that 10 years ago did not exist. Happy 150! Despite that great age, its problems today are those of youth -- growth and innovation. That is just one of the wonders of pharmacology.

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