Tony Manoguerra Retires After 30 Years of Leadership at UC San Diego

By Debra Kain

Anthony Manoguerra, Pharm.D., professor of clinical pharmacy and associate dean for Student Affairs in the UC San Diego Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences and a Clinical Professor of Pharmacology in the UC San Diego School of Medicine, retired in September after a 30-year career at UC San Diego.

For more than 25 years, Manoguerra's clinical practice involved the assessment and management of patients poisoned by a wide variety of toxic substances. Prior to his appointment to the Skaggs School, Manoguerra was instrumental in establishing the San Diego Division of the California Poison Control System at UC San Diego Medical Center, where he served as director from 1977 to 2003.

David Adler, Pharm.D., professor of clinical pharmacy and associate dean for academic affairs for the Skaggs School recalls that Manoguerra joined him in San Diego in 1977 when the UC San Diego Regional Poison Center Medical Director, pediatrician Sylvia Michik, wanted to recruit a doctor of pharmacy to head up the Center.

"Tony - eager to get back to California from Minnesota where he headed up the Poison Center associated with the University of Minnesota - accepted the position and built and refined the UC San Diego Center. He continued his work in this area developing the statewide Poison Center Network, which is now centered in San Francisco and maintains one of four Centers here at UC San Diego," said Adler.

As director, Manoguerra was responsible for the supervision of a staff of pharmacists, nurses and technical support staff who provide poison control services to the citizens of Southern California. In this capacity, he was also called upon by government agencies to assist in numerous toxicology-related issues.

He recruited the Poison Control Center's current director, Lee Cantrell, to UC San Diego in 1991. "Tony brought the Center from nothing - from taking care of poison cases in San Diego by phone to covering all of Southern California," Cantrell said. "He trained everybody here."

Among his many achievements, Manoguerra was known for his leadership in changing the way that pre-natal vitamins with iron were packaged. "Before, pre-natal vitamins were packaged in regular bottles that kids could get into. They would eat them like candy, and kids would die of iron poisoning," Cantrell said. "Tony was instrumental in getting the industry to start packaging the vitamins in child-proof blister packs."

He also played a big part in combining a half-dozen poison control centers around the State into one system with consistent ways of management, helping to provide more and better coverage for people throughout California, according to Cantrell.

"During the past five or six years, I have had the opportunity to visit many pharmacy schools and their associated clinical or medical centers. Several of them have shown me their poison control center and noted that its service and academic training functions were patterned after what Tony developed here in San Diego," said Palmer W. Taylor, Ph.D., Dean of the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.

In his capacity as associate dean for student affairs for the Skaggs School, Manoguerra was responsible for the Offices of Admissions and Student Affairs. "The distinction of a pharmacy school depends largely on the quality of its admitted students, the education they receive at the institution and the careers they select after graduation and post-graduate training," said Taylor. "As dean, Tony played a critical role in all of these academic endeavors, and much of the early academic success of the school can be linked to his commitment to student affairs."

Manoguerra received his Pharm.D. degree from the University of California, San Francisco in 1971 and completed a Clinical Pharmacy Residency at UCSF in 1971-1972. Prior to coming to San Diego, he was a faculty member at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy from 1972 to 1974 and at the University of Minnesota, College of Pharmacy from 1974 to 1977. While in Minnesota, he was also Director of the Hennepin County Poison Center in Minneapolis.

He joined the faculty of the UCSF School of Pharmacy, San Diego Program in 1977, and served as the program director of the UCSF/UC San Diego Pharmacy Education Program from 1995 to 2001. "The acute-care core courses and an elective in the Poison Center that Tony taught were favorites of the more than 500 UCSF students and 150 residents (studying at UC San Diego)," said Adler. "He also inaugurated one of the first Clinical Toxicology Fellowships for pharmacists, which trained a number of quality clinicians who have become current Poison Center directors across the country."

In 2000, he was granted partial release time by UCSF to assist in the development of the UC San Diego School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, and in 2003, his appointment was transferred from UCSF to UC San Diego. He, Adler and Dean Taylor - who in the mid-80s had first proposed the idea of a School of Pharmacy at UC San Diego - resurrected the idea ten years later as part of the master plan for the university. The plan became reality when the first public school of pharmacy in Southern California, and only the second one in the State, opened its doors to 24 first-year students in 2001.

"Our biggest challenge was predicting issues that kept coming up," Manoguerra remembered. "We were usually just a few steps ahead of the students."

Calling his role in the start-up of the new school, "a one-in-a-lifetime opportunity," Manoguerra isn't completely giving up his role with the School and close ties to its students. At least for a time, he'll continue his admissions work on a part-time basis. Counting fishing, photography and travel among his interests, he also plans to travel with his wife to visit their grandchildren in Georgia and to one of their favorite places, Italy.

Anthony Manoguerra is a Diplomate of the American Board of Applied Toxicology and an Elected Fellow of the American Academy of Clinical Toxicology. He has served on the Board of Directors of the American Association of Poison Control Centers and the Board of Trustees of the American Academy of Clinical Toxicology. He is also a past-President of the American Association of Poison Control Centers.

He served on the San Diego County Metropolitan Medical Strike Team, composed to respond to mass casualty emergencies; on the San Diego County Department of Environmental Health Advisory Board; as a consultant to the Hazardous Materials Emergency Response Team for San Diego County and on the County of San Diego Air Pollution Control District Hearing Board.