College Announces Administrative Changes

Five new administrators

The energy sparked of a new academic year takes on extra emphasis in 2015 as the College of Pharmacy begins the fall semester with several administrative changes.

Beginning in September, changes within the college include:

  • Dr. John Richburg, professor of pharmacology/toxicology, new associate dean for research and graduate studies.
  • Renee Acosta, clinical associate professor of health outcomes and pharmacy practice, new assistant dean for admission and advising.
  • Dr. Karen Rascati, professor of health outcomes and pharmacy practice, new graduate student advisor.
  • Dr. Karen Vasquez, professor of pharmacology and toxicology, new head the Division of Pharmacology and Toxicology.
  • Dr. John DiGiovanni, professor of pharmacology and toxicology, new director of the Center for Molecular and Cellular Toxicology.

“It’s an exciting time in the history of the college,” said Dean Lynn Crismon in discussing the administrative changes. “We have recently completed a comprehensive strategic plan where we clarified our college’s direction and priorities for the next few years. I’m excited to welcome these additions to our administrative team to help steer the college as we implement this ambitious plan for our college’s future.”


John Richburg, Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies

John Richburg moves into his new role directing research and graduate studies after several years as head of the Division of Pharmacology and Toxicology. He replaces Dr. Carlton Erickson who will assume a consultative capacity as he begins his phased retirement in September.

“John has an excellent research track record with career grant awards totaling more than $6.7 million,” said Dean Crismon in announcing the appointment. “As we implement our new strategic plan with a strong emphasis on advancing our research and graduate program, I look forward to the leadership that John will provide to the college’s Office of Research and Graduate Studies.”

“These are exciting times for research within the college,” said Richburg. “The opening of the Dell Medical School, combined with the college’s translational science doctoral program and its infrastructure focused on supporting the development and commercialization of its innovative research discoveries, allow our faculty and students to tangibly contribute to the improvement of public health. “I look forward to supporting the further advancement of our exemplary graduate and research programs.”


Renee´ Acosta, Assistant Dean for Admissions and Academic Affairs

Renee´ Acosta has taught extensively within the professional Pharm.D. curriculum including courses in self-care, intravenous admixture, CPR, immunizations, and patient safety. Currently, she focuses on the use of technology and standardized patients in teaching skills-based courses to further student learning and development. She follows Dr. Rich Wilcox who will return to a full-time faculty appointment in the Division of Pharmacology &Toxicology.

“I am delighted that Renee´ has agreed to join the Dean’s office,” said Dean Crismon. “She is one of our most outstanding teachers as evidenced by her receiving the Regents Outstanding Teaching Award and her appointment as a Provost’s Teaching Fellow. She has always impressed me with her tireless dedication and service to students and to the college.”

“Students are at the core of everything within the college,” Acosta said. “I have always found immense satisfaction in working directly with students and I’m eager to continue working with and serving students from the perspective of this new role.”


Karen Rascati, Graduate Student Advisor

Karen Rascati has a distinguished record as a researcher, scholar, major professor and teacher. For the last several years, she has served as graduate advisor within the Division of Health Outcomes and Pharmacy Practice. She takes on this role for the full college, assuming responsibilities previously held by Carl Erickson.

“Addressing the infrastructure of our graduate program is extremely important, and, as a component of this, I am separating the responsibilities of the graduate advisor from those of the associate dean for research and graduate studies,” Dean Crismon said. “I can think of no one more qualified than Karen Rascati to assume this role as we address this pivotal time in the growth of our college.”

“The contributions of graduate students is immeasurable within the life of a college,” Rascati said. “Continued emphasis on the recruitment of high quality students, and the provision of exceptional educational opportunities are emphasized in our new strategic plan.”


Karen Vasquez, Head, Division of Pharmacology and Toxicology

Karen Vasquez joined the college’s pharmacology and toxicology faculty in 2011 after serving on the faculty in the Department of Molecular Carcinogenesis at UT’s MD Anderson Cancer Center. She replaces John Richburg in leading the Division of Pharmacology and Toxicology.

“Dr. Vasquez is a distinguished scientist and an enthusiastic and energetic faculty member,” said Dean Crismon. “Since coming to UT Austin, she has been impressive with her creative ideas and the positive approach that she takes in initiating change.”

“With the establishment of the new Dell Medical School and the LIVESTRONG Cancer Institute, the College of Pharmacy and the Division of Pharmacology and Toxicology are positioned to contribute even more substantially to biomedical research and education,” said Vasquez. “Our expertise in drug discovery and development will certainly complement the missions of these new entities within the UT System to improve human health. I am delighted to take on this new role in working with my faculty colleagues to advance these disciplines within the college.”


John DiGiovanni, director, Center for Molecular and Cellular Toxicology

Prior to joining UT Austin, John DiGiovanni served as director of the Science Park-Research Division and chair of the Department of Carcinogenesis at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. His active research lab focuses on how cancer developes and on the identification of novel targets, mechanisms and strategies for cancer prevention. In this role, he has collaborated with fellow researchers within the college, within the university, and across the nation and world.  DiGiovanni replaces John Richburg in taking on the CMCT leadership.

“John has an illustrious history of outstanding extramural funding and research that focuses on understanding mechanisms involved in cancer development and progression with the goal of identifying targets and mechanisms for cancer prevention and treatment,” said Dean Crismon.  “He is most qualified to hold this leadership position.”

“The longstanding mission of the CMCT has been to provide leadership for the expansion of programs to prepare students for careers that address the molecular and cellular mechanisms by which environmental agents induce toxicity and disease,” said DiGiovanni.  “The CMCT fosters interdisciplinary research and training to help prepare the next generation of scientists for tackling the complex nature of understanding environmental disease.  As director of the CMCT, I look forward to advancing these activities together with the center membership as well as the administration of the College of Pharmacy and the university.”