John Parascandola Receives AIHP Robert P. Fischelis Award

The Institute’s Board of Directors has awarded the 2023 AIHP Robert P. Fischelis Award to longtime AIHP member John Parascandola, PhD, for his extraordinary contributions to the Institute and the field of pharmacy history.

The Robert P. Fischelis Award is conferred annually by AIHP’s Board of Directors to recognize an individual or organization who has made significant contributions to both the field of the history of pharmacy and the Institute.. The Board’s selection is made from nominations received from Institute members. The award is given in honor of the late Robert P. Fischelis (1891-1981), a gifted leader of the pharmacy profession and a generous benefactor of the Institute.

Pharmacy in History Editorial Board Member John Parascandola
John Parascandola, PhD

According to the letter of citation sent to Dr. Parascandola, the Board of Directors selected him for this year’s award “in recognition of your many important contributions to the field of pharmacy history and your extraordinary work to advance the mission and success of AIHP.”

Dr. Parascandola earned his PhD in the history of science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1968. He joined the faculty of the UW-Madison in 1969, on which he served until 1983, rising to full professor status. During this period, Dr. Parascandola did much to advance the history of pharmacy, including developing new courses on the history of pharmacy and pharmaceutical sciences, directing graduate students, and pursuing a very productive research program that resulted in a steady and impressive stream of publications in AIHP’s Pharmacy in History and other academic journals. Dr. Parascandola was elected to the International Academy of the History of Pharmacy in 1976.

While a faculty member at the UW-Madison, he also served as AIHP’s Director from 1973 to 1981, succeeding Professor Glenn Sonnedecker upon his retirement. In this role, Dr. Parascandola not only managed the Institute’s organizational affairs, but also (among other things) served as the content editor of Pharmacy in History and edited or co-edited several books that AIHP published, including History of Antibiotics: A Symposium (1980) and American Pharmacy in the Colonial and Revolutionary Periods (1977).

He left his tenured faculty position at the UW-Madison in 1983 to become Chief of the History of Medicine Division of the United States National Library of Medicine, a position he held until 1992. That same year, he published his seminal book, The Development of American Pharmacology: John J. Abel and the Shaping of a Discipline (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992), for which he was awarded AIHP’s George Urdang Medal in 1994. (Earlier, in 1980, Dr. Parascandola received AIHP’s Edward Kremers Award for a series of published articles on the history of chemical pharmacology.)

Dr. Parascandola was the U.S. Public Health Service Historian from 1992 to 2004. His scholarly work continued after his 2004 retirement, with the publication of Sex, Sin, and Science: A History of Syphilis in America (Praeger Publishers, 2008), for which he was awarded the 2009 George Pendleton Prize.

Throughout his professional career, Dr. Parascandola continued to actively volunteer his time to advance the mission of the Institute, including serving as the book review editor for Pharmacy in History and by serving on numerous committees. Most importantly, he brought stability to AIHP’s leadership during  his long (and unmatched) tenure as Chairman of the AIHP Council, and then AIHP President, from 1989 to 2007.

Even after retiring from his leadership position, Dr. Parascandola’s active work for AIHP has continued. When AIHP was asked to host the 2019 International Congress for the History of Pharmacy, Dr. Parascandola agreed to serve as chair of the important Program Committee. He is helping to revitalize AIHP’s academic journal by serving on the Editorial Board of History of Pharmacy and Pharmaceuticals. He also recently served on a task force that undertook a comprehensive review of AIHP awards program and developed recommendations (later adopted by the Board) that have greatly strengthened that program.

The Institute’s letter of citation to Dr. Parascandola concluded: “There is much more we could say, but what we have said is enough to make it abundantly clear that AIHP and the field of pharmacy history have greatly benefited from your decades of work. You richly deserve the AIHP Robert P. Fischelis Award.”

Dr. Parascandola is the seventh recipient of the Robert Fischelis Award, which was established in 2015. Click here for a list of previous recipients.

Posted: July 6, 2023

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