May 15, 2024

William “Bill” Higuchi, Professor Emeritus of Pharmaceutics and Pharmaceutical Chemistry at the University of Utah and a former University of Michigan faculty member from 1962-82, passed away on May 10, 2024, at his home in Salt Lake City, Utah. He was 93.

Higuchi was awarded two honorary degrees, a testament to his academic prowess and contributions to the field. The first was from the University of Michigan in 2013, and the second was from the University of Utah in 2023. He was not just a professor but a trailblazer, entrepreneur, and beloved mentor in pharmaceutics. 


Internationally recognized and known for applying physical chemistry to solve pharmaceutical problems, his research focused on optimizing drug delivery to target sites in the body. His innovative mindset led to significant contributions in drug transport, which led to advancements in transdermal and gastrointestinal drug delivery. He also made discoveries related to fluoride’s role in cavity prevention and the formulation and dissolution of cholesterol gallstones. 


Higuchi's passion for discovery extended beyond academia. He was a successful entrepreneur, founding or co-founding four pharmaceutical companies, one of which was acquired by Abbvie and the other publicly traded on the NASDAQ exchange. 


A scientist at heart, but realizing the rigors of the field, he devoted much of his time to mentoring the hundreds of students he had the opportunity to educate from Michigan to Utah. He translated this same mentoring philosophy to the employees of his companies. “Dr. Higuchi’s distinguished career and impact on the pharmaceutics field will live on through all the people he educated, mentored, and led,” states Vicki Ellingrod, Dean of the College of Pharmacy. 


He was devoted to preparing his students for entry into the field and making sure they had the tools to succeed, to be leaders, and to advance the field. One of those students was the College of Pharmacy’s Gordon Amidon, who in 2017 was appointed as a Distinguished University Professor. These are the University of Michigan’s most prestigious professorships, which are each named after a person of distinction in their field. Amidon named the recognition after him to honor Higuchi’s impact on his career.


In honor of Higuchi’s indelible contributions to Pharmaceutical Sciences, the College of Pharmacy also established the William I. Higuchi Collegiate Professorship in Pharmacy to recognize distinguished faculty.


A generous philanthropist, he and his wife established the William and Setsuko Higuchi Fellowship Fund in 2015 at the College, which supports students in pharmaceutics as they pursue their scholarly interests in its thriving research enterprise. 


Dr. Higuchi’s full obituary can be found here.