- 2018 Award in Excellence in Clinical and Translational Pharmacology
- 1974 Medical Student Award in Clinical Pharmacology
On November 18, 2017, the PhRMA Foundation lost Dr. Darrell Abernethy, a brilliant scientist, trusted advisor, and colleague. Dr. Abernethy was a beloved member of the clinical pharmacology community who dedicated his career to serving the public good. Throughout his 30 years in medicine, he sought to better understand the effects of drugs in older adults and improve treatments for this population. He was a longtime volunteer leader for the PhRMA Foundation, serving on the Clinical Pharmacology Advisory Committee for 23 years and for 12 years as chair. He was also an active member of the Scientific Advisory Committee and Translational Medicine Advisory Committee.
Dr. Abernethy fell in love with science at a young age. His passion for chemistry and medicine led him to the University of Kansas, where he earned his MD and PhD degrees. He received the PhRMA Foundation Medical Student Award in 1974 and studied internal medicine at the University of Miami, Harvard Medical School, and Tufts University, completing his residency and fellowship at Jackson Memorial Hospital, Massachusetts General Hospital, and Tufts–New England Medical Center.
For 8 years, Dr. Abernethy was associate director for drug safety at the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, where he explored new ways to optimize medicine use among geriatric patients. From 1999 to 2007, he was chief of the Laboratory of Clinical Investigation at the National Institute on Aging. In 2005, Dr. Abernethy was elected president of the U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP) Convention, later serving as chief science officer of USP. He held various positions, including professor, internist, and programs director at Johns Hopkins, Tufts, and Brown Universities and was the Frances Cabell Brown Professor of Medicine and Pharmacology at Georgetown University. All the while, Dr. Abernethy was a trusted mentor and advisor to hundreds of students and early career scientists. He taught as a visiting professor at 17 universities and medical centers across the country and developed a digital training module on the pharmacodynamics of aging.
In 2000, Dr. Abernethy received the Rawls–Palmer Progress in Medicine Award from the American Society for Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics (ASCPT). He received the Nathaniel Kwit Award in Clinical Pharmacology from the American College of Clinical Pharmacology (ACCP) in 2008 and ACSPT’s William B. Abrams Award in Geriatric Medicine in 2011. He was a fellow of ACCP and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Though his work demanded much of his time, Dr. Abernethy continually gave back to the field. He served as editor in chief of Pharmacological Reviews, as deputy editor of Pharmacology Research and Perspectives, as associate editor for the Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, and as an honorary editorial board member for the journal Drugs for more than 25 years. He also chaired the Clinical Division of the International Union of Basic and Clinical Pharmacology and the Pharmacology Test Committee for the National Board of Medical Examiners.
For the National Institutes of Health, Food and Drug Administration, and USP, Dr. Abernethy served on numerous advisory and steering committees. He also participated on many hospital and university review committees, including the Investigation Review Board for Human Studies at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, the Research Committee for the Division of Geriatrics at Johns Hopkins University, and the Doctoral Program Advisory Committee for Georgetown University.
Dr. Abernethy’s contributions to clinical pharmacology leave a legacy in the field. His wisdom, compassion, and wholehearted dedication to people and patients will always be remembered.