Prof. Anna Schwendeman Named William I. Higuchi Collegiate Professor of Pharmacy
Anna A.S. Schwendeman’s, PhD, appointment as the William I. Higuchi Collegiate Professor of Pharmacy has been approved by the Regents of the University of Michigan. Her term is effective Jan. 1, 2021, through Dec. 31, 2025.
The William I. Higuchi Collegiate Professorship was established in 2014 to honor Prof. Higuchi, an internationally recognized pioneer in the field of drug formulation and delivery. Prof. Higuchi, who was on faculty at the College from 1962-1982, made 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.
“Prof. Schwendeman is the penultimate scientist and is a prime example of Michigan’s leaders and best,” says Vicki Ellingrod, PharmD, John Gideon Searle Professor of Pharmacy and Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Education. “She came to academia after several years in industry, but never skipped a beat in moving her research. She is leading the field in nanotechnology as well as biosimilars, and is solidifying Michigan’s leadership status in these fields. Most importantly, Dr. Anna Schwendeman has a strong commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion and through her efforts has helped to excite and engage underrepresented students in the University of Michigan pharmaceutical sciences graduate program. As a strongly collaborative scientist she has brought her biotech experience to new startups and countless collaborations across the university and medical school, and become a wonderful role model for young and upcoming female scientists."
Prof. Schwendeman earned her undergraduate degree in Chemical Physics from Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology. After moving to the United States in 1994, she changed her field of study to Pharmaceutical Chemistry and initially worked on stabilization and controlled release of anticancer drugs from injectable poly (lactic-co-glycolic acid) delivery systems.
“After my PhD in 2000, I joined a small biotech company Esperion Therapeutics and moved into cardiovascular research,” explains Prof. Schwendeman. “During this time in biotech I oversaw high-density lipoproteins (HDL) nanoparticle formulation, Current Good Manufacturing Practice (cGMP) recombinant protein manufacturing, analytical release and stability studies, pharmacology and toxicology evaluation of five synthetic HDL products. For some of these products I oversaw the entire translation process from bench discovery to the end of Phase II clinical trials. My group was responsible for regulatory submissions for seven US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Investigational New Drug (IND) applications.”
Prof. Schwendeman joined the University of Michigan College of Pharmacy in 2012. Her laboratory is working on optimization of synthetic HDL (sHDL) compositions for treatment of atherosclerosis, lysosomal storage diseases, sepsis, as well drug delivery purposes.
“My background in pharmaceutical industry has also led to a substantial portion of my laboratory efforts being dedicated to regulatory research,” notes Prof. Schwendeman. The Schwendeman lab established analytical characterization methodologies for multiple complex reference products including peptide, protein, liposome and polymer microspheres products. Prof. Schwendeman has received funding from FDA and generic industry to investigate how manufacturing process parameters influences quality and performance of complex generic products. She has established several in vitro drug release assays that are being implemented for analysis of complex generic products. “I have developed relationships with several generic companies and provided analytical characterization for regulatory filings for liposomal, peptide and biosimilar products,” adds Prof. Schwendeman.
Her work with the complex generics industry led to a $5M grant from the FDA to establish the Center for Research on Complex Generics together with Dr. Polli at the University of Maryland. The mission of CRCG is to increase access to safe and effective generic drugs through collaborative research, training, and information exchange. The center will facilitate communication and information sharing between FDA, academia, and generic drug companies.