Celebrating 40 years of the John W. Webb Lecture Award

As Prof. Jack Reynolds, Professor Emeritus, wrote in 2014, the John W. Webb Lecture Award brings “key leaders and managers in the profession of pharmacy” to Northeastern University, who have “set bold and exciting directions that have enabled health systems to better serve the needs of specific patients while improving overall quality and safety.”

That message about the award rings as true today in its 40th year as it did during its inception in 1985. At that time, the John W. Webb Visiting Professorship was established by Profs. Gerald Schumacher and William Gouveia at Northeastern University to honor John W. Webb, Director of Pharmacy at Massachusetts General Hospital (1959–1983) and Director of the Graduate Program in Hospital Pharmacy at Northeastern University (1964-1983). Throughout its 40-year history, three main pillars of hospital-pharmacy practice have been integrated into each lecture: advancement of the profession; quality patient care; and pharmacists’ impacts on healthcare delivery.

Additionally, many past recipients have addressed leadership during challenging times, including the 2023 recipient, Dr. Deborah Simonson, who spoke about how to develop a “we got this” spirit in the face of hurricanes and a pandemic. 

We know that there have been many challenges faced by pharmacists, and the healthcare industry as a whole in the past 40 years. Each challenge provided a new opportunity for innovation and growth. In 1985, electronic medical records, and medication automation were being developed in real-time.  With associated changes, the profession has developed and adapted to new technologies that have improved patient care and operational efficiencies.

Today, advancements in the areas that represent challenges continue to push the profession in new and exciting areas, including the integration of artificial intelligence and increased access to technology, such as wearable and real-time medical devices. With this, we continue to be enthusiastic about bringing forward a new generation of leaders in our profession and honor those who have paved the way for them.