On the evening of May 4th, 2019, Oregon State University College of Pharmacy alumni and friends gathered at Portland City Grill to honor the recipients of the 2019 Icons of Pharmacy Award: Ruth Stevens (’92), Sean Sullivan (’83), and Marcus Watt (‘77). Also, Ben Kong from the Class of 2012 was the recipient of the College of Pharmacy’s 2019 Outstanding Young Alumni Award.
Throughout her career, Ruth Stevens has served as an innovator in pharmacokinetics. When she saw a need in industry for a quality consulting drug development firm, she jumped at the chance to risk stepping out of the box and pursuing an impactful entrepreneurial endeavor.
After earning a BA in Health Education from the University of Washington and a Post-baccalaureate in Chemistry/Business from Southern Oregon State College, Ruth came to OSU College of Pharmacy and was inspired by Dr. Jim Ayres to pursue a PhD in the Biopharmaceutics/Pharmacokinetics graduate program. While completing her doctorate, she started an internship with the FDA and went on to work there for the next six years after graduating. She later earned her Executive MBA from Xavier University (08), Cincinnati, Ohio.
A truly transformational innovator, Ruth implemented what she had learned at OSU: teamwork, interdisciplinary interaction, and technical expertise, into her own business model. She believes OSU gave her the tools to be confident in her skills and allowed her the opportunity to say, “Yes,” as an entrepreneur. She adds, “I could take the risk because I had the confidence, a solid foundation, and the key building blocks for success.” As a founder of Camargo Pharmaceutical Services and its Chief Scientific Officer & Executive Vice President, Ruth has played a leading role crafting and executing product-development and regulatory strategies in nearly every therapeutic and regulatory area. Committed to her work, Ruth has a distinguished career as an industry thought leader and regulatory scientist, with deep insights into the processes and approaches of the FDA.
After nearly 16 years with Camargo, Ruth recognizes that not just thinking outside of the box, but moving completely outside of it, is why the company has insured its global expertise. The company creatively and with confidence recognized the use and enhanced name recognition of an underutilized regulatory pathway, the 505(b)(2). Years ago, very few within the industry or the FDA were aware of this. Ultimately this has brought value to industry and to the patients they serve.
Ruth lives with her husband, Clark, in the City of Wyoming, Ohio. They have two daughters, Cara and Kayla, who have pursued careers on the west coast. When detailing her accomplishments, she is quick to mention, “I’m a reflection of OSU, of my colleagues, a reflection of my father and mother (Dr. Carl and Christine Engle of Pullman, WA), of my husband and my daughters. To me, the biggest accomplishment is encouraging the same confidence that was instilled in me into future graduates.”
Sean Sullivan (’83), 2019 Icon of Pharmacy
Sean is recognized as a prominent Dean of a leading school of pharmacy where his engagement has helped transform the profession. When asked about his current role, he responded, “I love this work. This is a job for which very few are really trained. Most days, it’s challenging and rewarding. Some days, it’s extremely difficult. And on a few occasions, it is glorious.”
After completing his pharmacy degree at OSU College of Pharmacy in 1983, Sean practiced in his hometown of Hollister, CA, where he obtained a deeper understanding of the profession. He then obtained a master’s degree in Pharmacy at The University of Texas, Austin and a PhD in health economics and policy at the University of California, Berkeley.
Coming to the University of Washington in 1992, Sean co-founded the UW School of Pharmacy’s Pharmaceutical Outcomes Research and Policy Program (PORPP), now known as The CHOICE Institute. Under Sean’s leadership, the program grew to the country’s premier health economics, outcomes research and policy academic center.
In 2014, Sean became Dean and Chief Academic Officer at University of Washington School of Pharmacy. He holds a joint appointment in the Schools of Pharmacy and Public Health, while also holding adjunct appointments in the School of Medicine, the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, and at the Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute. Sean served as President of ISPOR, the leading global professional society for health economics and outcomes research and has been nationally recognized for his career of research and leadership with the 2014 Stephen G. Avey Lifetime Achievement Award from the Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy and the 2015 American Pharmacists Association (APhA) Academy of Pharmaceutical Research Sciences (APRS) Research Achievement Award.
A stalwart believer in the pursuit of higher learning, he acknowledges that there were many individuals that inspired him and shaped his path at OSU. Former OSU College of Pharmacy Dean Richard Ohvall had a big impact on his approach to serving as Dean – including how he balances his professional role with an approachable, open door policy. It was Dr. Lee Strandberg who impressed upon Sean that he should think of pharmacy, not just as a clinical profession, but about its broader economic and societal impacts.
Sean is most proud of the success of the students he has mentored. That group includes his first grad student, Joseph Ness, who is now Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of OHSU Healthcare, as well as PharmD and PhD students, many of whom are in very successful positions up and down the west coast. Over his career, Sean has mentored over 100 PhD graduates and post doc fellows, now in academic and leadership roles around the world. Sean truly believes that public universities like Oregon State University and University of Washington are engines of social and economic mobility, with the goal of lifting people up. He attests that the impact of both these great public institutions was transformational, “I am deeply grateful for all that OSU gave to me during my time in Corvallis.”
Sean lives in Seattle with his wife, Catrena (Howlett) Sullivan, also an OSU College of Pharmacy graduate (Class of 1990), whom he holds great admiration and appreciation for in her support for his career and partnership in raising their two children, Kiera and Aidan. Catrena is a pharmacist at the student health center at UW.
With over 42 years of pharmacy experience, Marcus “Marc” Watt is known for his steady work ethic and has showcased a drive and fortitude over the course of his career in the pharmacy profession, capped with his exemplary service as the Executive Director of the Oregon Board of Pharmacy (OBOP).
Marc graduated from OSU College of Pharmacy and began work as a Pharmacist for Fred Meyer, Inc. before being promoted to Director of Professional Programs and Vendor Relations. During this time, he was responsible for implementation, marketing and sales of all patient care initiatives and pharmacy professional activities. He also developed and implemented professional programs and pharmaceutical care programs in five states. Marc spent the next 9 years as a Regional Pharmacy Manager for Safeway where he was responsible for the operations of 27 pharmacies and over 200 staff members throughout the State.
Marc then became the Clinical Pharmacy Manager for Walgreens Specialty Pharmacy in Beaverton, where he was responsible for all regulatory, clinical and professional activities. At a time when specialty pharmacy and the profession of pharmacy as a whole were evolving, Marc says, “to have worked in the second largest specialty pharmacy in the country at that time, in that emerging part of the practice, was extremely rewarding and fulfilling.” These varied roles ultimately led Marc to accumulating a wide-ranging background, allowing him to lead the OBOP with an uncommon depth of experience.
Always engaged, Marc spent 8 years serving as an Oregon Board of Pharmacy member, including 2 terms as president. In 2014, Marc was hiredto lead the Oregon Board of Pharmacy as its Executive Director.Under Marc’s leadership, the OBOP has been recognized nationally for its innovation, excellence, and commitment to serving the citizens of Oregon. Marc’s willingness to address important safety and public health policy initiatives was critical and included developing and implementing pharmacist prescriptive authority for contraceptives and naloxone, as well as creating the Public Health and Pharmacy Formulary Advisory Committee for additional prescriptive authorities.
When looking back over the critical moments of his career, Marc observed that, “Relationships with and development of people were the most important part,” when building his professional path. With new hurdles to jump every day, it took incredible fortitude to rise to the challenge and to be motivated for new, difficult tasks.
Marc lives in Oregon City with his wife, Wilda, who shares in his love for outdoor sport as well as cars & motorcycles. Outside of his professional pharmacy career, Marc also worked as a Reserve Deputy Sheriff (’78-’02) and was influenced by his father’s strong involvement in the community. In what can be related to his personal or professional aspirations, Marc explained, “If you are willing to do good in your community, you will find opportunities to touch people’s lives in ways that you would never have had otherwise.”
Ben Kong from the Class of 2012 is the recipient of the Outstanding Young Alumni award for his commitment and dedication to the profession of pharmacy and his exemplary commitment to students. Most notably, Ben is building a new path for pharmacy in the field of genomics as the singular pharmacist working at OHSU’s Knight Cancer Center.
An interest in science and medicine led Ben Kong to pursue a career in pharmacy. While working on his honors thesis project, he began to discover his love for research, but he always knew that he wanted to apply that innovative thinking directly to the humanitarian pursuit of patient care.
Born and raised in Salem, Ben discovered his trajectory through the process of scholastic aptitude and investigation. Through the guidance and inspiration of his professors, combined with his passion for patient care, he was driven to develop his clinical foundation during his P4 rotation at OHSU. Once he graduated from OSU College of Pharmacy, he pursued a PGY-1 pharmacy practice residency with Providence Health Services and then, in a true turning point in his career, a PGY-2 residency at UF Health Shands Hospital in Florida, specializing in clinical pharmacogenetics and implementation initiatives. He credits his teachers and preceptors at OSU College of Pharmacy and Florida for helping him gain skills in critical analysis and interpreting data to connect back to the patient. Ben launched his career by becoming an Oncology/Research Clinical Pharmacist at OHSU, where he focused primarily on direct patient care in the clinical setting in addition to research and medication management.
In his new role, he serves as a core member of the Knight Cancer Institute’s Precision Oncology program. This team will establish pharmacy services to effectively collaborate with world-renowned clinicians and scientists in revolutionizing the treatment of cancer.
Oregon State University College of Pharmacy is honored to recognize the remarkable commitment of Ruth Stevens, Sean Sullivan, Marcus Watt, and Ben Kong to the field of Pharmacy and Healthcare as a whole. Their influences on the profession are meritorious and inspirational.