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Brittany Jennings
January 27, 2020

John Grabenstein, RPh, Ph.D., aims to fill each day with small accomplishments that one day accumulate for the greater good of humanity.

The retired colonel and former global director of medical affairs for Merck Vaccines, spent each day of his pharmacy career focused on educating the community on the importance of vaccines, specifically the role pharmacists play in delivering vaccinations.

Those days compiled into 27 years of service in the United States Army where he oversaw the U.S. Defense Department immunization program for 9 million troops, retirees and family members as the head of the Military Vaccine Agency. While a Ph.D. student at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy in 1996, he also wrote the American Pharmacists Association’s (APhA) certificate training program, “Pharmacy-Based Immunization Delivery,” that has been used to train more than 340,000 pharmacists.

Because of his decades of excellence as a leader in promoting public health and wellness through immunization practice by pharmacists, Grabenstein is being honored with the APhA’s 2020 Remington Honor Medal – the highest honor in American pharmacy.

About the recognition, Grabenstein said, “[It’s] amazing, when I consider how an idea I helped nurture has resulted in so many pharmacists touching their patients’ lives so directly, protecting them from serious infections.”

The Remington Honor Medal, named for eminent community pharmacist, manufacturer, and educator Joseph P. Remington, was established in 1918 to recognize distinguished service on behalf of American pharmacy, culminating in the past year or during a long period of outstanding activity or fruitful achievement.

Grabenstein will be recognized during the APhA Annual Meeting & Exposition in National Harbor, MD, March 20–23, 2020.

Grabenstein received his pharmacy degree from Duquesne University, a master’s in education from Boston University, then an MS (1991) and doctorate in pharmacoepidemiology (1999) at the University of North Carolina. He also holds honorary doctorates from Shenandoah University and Chapman University.

“The breadth and depth of opportunities at UNC was and is staggering. I drank deeply from the academic and experiential challenges offered to me,” he said. “I am very grateful to UNC’s people for helping me grow and expand my horizons.”

His advice to current pharmacy students is simple – do what makes you happy. He encourages aspiring pharmacists to “recognize the immense variety of ways that pharmacists can contribute to healthcare and to society. If you have helped someone today, you’ve had a good day.”

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