Marla Ahlgrimm: The First Pharmacy School

Marla Ahlgrimm

There are hundreds of educational establishments that cater to pharmaceuticals. But, according to Marla Ahlgrimm, it was not always that way. The first pharmacy school in the United States was founded in 1821. The Philadelphia College of Pharmacy (now the University of the Sciences) offers more than 30 degree-granting academic programs.

According to Marla Ahlgrimm, the early 1800s saw an increased need for medical knowledge. And as doctors began to get away from providing medicine directly, there was an even greater need for people who understood drugs and drug interactions. The Philadelphia College of Pharmacy was established after a meeting by more than five dozen Philadelphia apothecaries. Their goal was to create and improve upon scientific standards.

When the college was first opened, Marla Ahlgrimm explains that it was open to men only. It did not become a coeducational institution until 1876. The original course of study were biological and chemical sciences. The college later expanded to include three other areas: chemistry, bacteriology, and biology.

Marla Ahlgrimm says that 100 years after it opened its doors, the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy changed its name. It was then that the college was granted authorization to provide education and degrees at the graduate and postgraduate level.

Today, colleges and universities across the world offer pharmaceutical programs and in many different disciplines. However, Marla Ahlgrimm says that without this first academic institution, the road would not have been paved for so many professionals that have walked this path over the course of the last 200 years.

Marla Ahlgrimm, now retired, is a board member of the University of Wisconsin School of Pharmacy Board of Visitors. She has been active in numerous other industry organizations including the Pharmacy Society of Wisconsin. There is a scholarship in her name, the Marla Ahlgrimm Scholarship, available to students at her alma mater.

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