Greg Higby Helps the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy Prepare for its Bicentennial

Greg Higby demonstrating the use of a hand scale, that was uncovered at the University of the Sciences, on his visit. Image courtesy of Emma Lee/WHYY

Greg Higby, AIHP’s Fischelis Scholar and former Executive Director, is working with the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy, now called the University of the Sciences, to help the institution prepare for the 200th anniversary of its founding. The school asked Higby to review its extensive collection of historic documents, books and artifacts to select significant items that will be highlighted during the upcoming bicentennial celebration.

Higby’s ongoing work has generated media coverage from Philadelphia’s public radio station, WHYY. An article posted on the station’s website, available here, provides an extensive report on Higby’s work and includes photographs of his many discoveries in the school’s archives.

The article describes Higby as an “hired gun” brought in by the University of the Sciences to help assess the significance and historic value of the many items in the school’s collection. Robert Rudd, the university’s vice president of advancement, explains in the article that “[t]here is a strong collecting instinct among pharmacists,” and that “[t]here’s a fair amount of material that just showed up at the University and we’re entirely unclear on what it is and what it came from.”

Higby quickly identified several items of historic importance. In particular, he identified a first edition of “Pharmacopoeia Londinensis” a controversial pharmacopoeia from 1618 which was quickly withdrawn after publication because of many errors. The WHYY article notes that “[t]he first edition is one of only two known to exist, the other at the Royal College of Physicians in London. Before Higby saw it at the University of the Sciences, he believed there was only one known to exist.”

Higby is uniquely qualified to assist the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy. His PhD dissertation was on William Procter, Jr., one of the college’s prominent graduates and considered the father of American pharmacy. While writing his dissertation in the early 1980’s, Higby spent weeks in the school’s archives conducting research. Higby’s dissertation was published in book form as “In Service to American Pharmacy: The Professional Life of William Procter, Jr.,” for which Higby received AIHP’s Edward Kremers Award in 1995.

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