Legacy of Late Pioneering Alumna, NASA Pharmacologist Honored with Pharmaceutics Endowment
An endowment for UH College of Pharmacy Pharmaceutics doctoral program students has been established by family members and friends of late UHCOP/UH alumna and NASA pharmacologist Lakshmi Putcha, Ph.D. ('81), M.S. ('75), who passed in September 2015.
The endowment was announced by Putcha's husband, Mallik Putcha, M.S. (Clear Lake '00), MBA (Bauer '79) and their son, Girish Putcha, M.D., Ph.D., at a special PK Symposium in her memory at the UH Alumni Center on the one-year anniversary of her passing.
Lakshmi Putcha served as chief pharmacologist at NASA-Johnson Space Center and technical manager of the Pharmacotherapeutics Laboratories at JSC. She earned two master’s degrees, including an M.S. in Pharmacy, and a doctorate in Biopharmaceutics and Clinical Pharmacokinetics from UH. Putcha started her NASA career as a post-doctoral fellow in 1982 and went on to develop cutting-edge applications for astronaut health care operations in space and on Earth.
As the only clinical pharmacologist at NASA, she was responsible for directing and conducting the research and development program for optimizing pharmacotherapeutics in space. Her contributions to the field of pharmacotherapeutics include significantly expanding knowledge of the wide-ranging effects of spaceflight on humans, as well as resolving critical human health and safety issues for future missions, including ones to Mars.
A Fellow of the American College of Clinical Pharmacology, Dr. Putcha held adjunct faculty appointments at several institutions, including UHCOP. She also served on the UHCOP Dean's Advisory Council.
Putcha was the recipient of numerous honors and awards at NASA, including the Special Space Flight Achievement Award, Certificate of Commendation and Space Act Award, as well as research support from such entities as the National Institutes of Health and the National Space Biomedical Research Institute. Among her longtime collaborators were Diana S-L. Chow, Ph.D., and UHCOP Pharmaceutics alumni.