URI pharmacy professor wins prestigious lifetime achievement award

Professor of Pharmacy Practice has won the Judith J. Saklad Memorial Award

KINGSTON, R.I. — Oct. 13, 2021 — A University of Rhode Island College of Pharmacy professor and alumnus has won the Judith J. Saklad Memorial Award, a lifetime achievement award presented by the national College of Psychiatric and Neurologic Pharmacists, which is among the most prestigious in the psychiatric pharmaceutical field.

A 1980 graduate of URI who went on to receive a master’s degree in pharmacology and toxicology, and Ph.D.s in pharmaceutical sciences and psychology from the University, Robert Dufresne is a professor of pharmacy at URI, as well as a clinical pharmacy specialist in mental health at the Providence VA Medical Center.

Dufresne initially worked in clinical research at the Rhode Island Psychiatric Research and Training Center, and has been teaching at URI since 1990. In 1995, he joined the VA, where he has an outpatient practice in psychiatric pharmacotherapy. He is a founding member of the College of Psychiatric and Neurologic Pharmacists (CPNP) and has served on the board of directors, and numerous committees, as well as working on the organization’s journal. He co-initiated an ASHP-accredited PGY2 psychiatric pharmacy residency in 2013, for which he still precepts, and serves as faculty mentor for the URI student chapter of CPNP.

“Rob has had a long, distinguished career in psychiatric pharmacotherapy,” said URI College of Pharmacy Dean Paul Larrat. “He has touched the lives and careers of hundreds of pharmacy students through the years, contributed greatly to the scholarly body of knowledge in this challenging discipline and dedicated considerable effort to improving the quality of lives of the patients that we all ultimately serve. This is a very well-deserved recognition.”

Dufresne began his research career investigating the pharmacotherapy of affective disorders, schizophrenia, and depression in schizophrenia. Much of his later work involved studying the effects of atypical antipsychotics on metabolic disorders, and he has published extensively concerning antipsychotic induced dyslipidemia. This included the initial reports demonstrating increased serum triglycerides in patients receiving atypical antipsychotics.

“Dr. Dufresne is a cherished member of our department. He shares a kind word or thoughtful advice for everyone he encounters, as he is genuinely interested in the wellbeing of his students and his co-workers,” said URI Professor Kerry LaPlante, chair of the pharmacy practice department. “His contributions to pharmacy and mental health have advanced the care of our nation’s veterans and our profession. On behalf of our entire department, we offer our most sincere congratulation on this highly prestigious award. We are honored and humbled to call Dr. Dufresne one of our own.”

The Judith J. Saklad Memorial Award is presented annually to a senior psychiatric pharmacy practitioner “who has achieved a level of professional distinction and demonstrates a continuing dedication to the practice of psychiatric pharmacy. Like Dr. Saklad, this practitioner will represent the qualities and ideals of professional enthusiasm, in addition to possessing a passion for optimizing patient care.”

The award celebrates the life and work of the late Sakland, who was clinical pharmacologist and clinical coordinator of pharmaceutical services at San Antonio State School, and clinical assistant professor of pharmacy and pharmacology at the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. She was a founding member of CPNP and nationally recognized as an innovator of pharmaceutical care for children and adults with serious mental disorders and developmental disabilities.

“I am deeply honored to be this year’s recipient of the Judith J. Saklad Memorial Award,” Dufresne said. “It represents to me the respect and esteem of my colleagues who I value so much for my life’s work and commitment to the field of psychiatric pharmacy. I am humbled to be included with the many past award winners who have helped grow our organization into a vital force for helping to improve the care of psychiatric patients now and into the future.”