December 20, 2013

Dr. William Higuchi, professor emeritus of pharmaceutics and pharmaceutical chemistry at the University of Utah and a former U-M faculty member from 1962-82, received an honorary degree from the University of Michigan at its winter commencement on December 15th. 

“This honorary degree for Dr. Higuchi is a celebration of the historical excellence of pharmaceutical sciences at the College of Pharmacy and of a unique faculty member.   While a pioneer in the application of physical science to drug formulation, Dr. Higuchi was an equally brilliant mentor to many of our alumni, who still cherish his impact today,” noted Dean Frank Ascione.

Higuchi is internationally recognized for his pioneering contributions to the science of drug formulation and delivery.

Born in San Jose, Calif., Higuchi earned two degrees in chemistry, a bachelor’s degree from San Jose State College and a doctorate degree from the University of California, Berkeley. He worked as a researcher and faculty member at the University of Wisconsin before serving on the U-M faculty from 1962-82, where he fostered a collaborative relationship between U-M and Japan’s pharmaceutical industry that thrives today.

Higuchi led the University of Utah Department of Pharmaceutics and Pharmaceutical Chemistry, and continued as a distinguished professor at Utah until he retired in 2007. His contributions include an understanding of how drug molecules are transported, which led to seminal advances in transdermal and gastrointestinal drug delivery. He also clarified the physical chemical process involved in dental caries and fluoride’s role in cavity prevention, and the physical chemistry of cholesterol gallstone formation and dissolution.

Higuchi co-founded or founded several pharmaceutical companies, including Theratech Inc., and is co-founder and chair of Lipocine Inc. He serves as a consultant and thought leader for governments, nonprofit organizations and pharmaceutical companies. His honors include Japan’s Order of the Rising Sun for his outstanding work in pharmaceutical sciences and his role in promoting Japan-U.S. cooperation.

As an adviser to the Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation, he and his late wife, Setsuko Higuchi, played key roles in preserving the Heart Mountain Relocation Center in Wyoming, where both were interned as children during World War II.