Proposed UIC drug research building gets $2 million investment

A new donation from a longtime supporter of the University of Illinois at Chicago marks a milestone for the proposed Drug Discovery and Innovation Pavilion, a $100 million, five-story, 112,000-square-foot contemporary research building.

According to UIC College of Pharmacy Dean Dr. Glen Schumock, this is the first private investment to the university specifically earmarked for the building project, which is intended to provide space for expanded research and collaboration around drug discovery.

“We’ve built a legacy of impactful drug discovery research around cancer, infectious disease and women’s health, and we look forward to advancing those discoveries, and we are inspired by the ongoing support of our alumni,” Schumock said.

Herbert and Carol Retzky
Herb and Carol Retzky

The $2 million gift is from Dr. Carol Retzky, of Oak Park, Illinois, and the estate of her late husband Herb Retzky, who earned a pharmacy degree from UIC’s College of Pharmacy in 1946 and passed away in 2017. Following successful careers as a pharmacy technician for Carol Retzky and pharmacist for Herb Retzky, and then as independent pharmacy owners, the Retzkys wanted to make a lasting impact on the practice of pharmacy as a profession and have supported the college for decades.

For Carol Retzky, investing in the new building is part of a legacy that she wishes to leave at UIC.

“In 2007, my husband Herb and I attended an annual garden walk event, in the Dorothy Bradley Atkins Medicinal Plant Garden, and I approached the then director of advancement for the college, Louis Wright, to discuss reunion activities,” Retzky said. “This encounter was the launching point for our involvement as it resulted in Louis inviting Herb to participate in the college‚Äôs annual White Coat ceremony. Sitting there in the audience at that memorable event, I could sense the excitement of the parents and students who would become future pharmacists. 

“We then went home, and I decided to create a scholarship at the college. This was how it all began. The feeling was awesome, and it felt like the right thing to do. The profession of pharmacy has given much to us, and it was time to give back,” Retzky said.

“The Retzkys’ generosity has made a lasting impact on our students and has enabled our faculty to pursue groundbreaking research. The state-of-the-art facility will further our ability to bring new insights and pharmaceutical therapies to people all over the world in need of cures, treatments and improved quality of life,” Schumock said.

Already, UIC is the birthplace of many commercially available medical advances, including drug therapies like Prezista, an anti-HIV drug sold by Janssen Therapeutics; Tice BCG, a bladder cancer drug sold by Merck; and Shingrix, a shingles vaccine sold by Glaxo Smith Kline.

UIC currently has 24 new drugs in the pipeline for potential approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, pending positive results in pre-clinical (11) and clinical-stage trials (13), including two drugs for treatment-resistant breast cancers.

“There is a lot of momentum at UIC, and a vital part of that is a legacy of drug discovery and a vision for accelerating research around new therapies that the College of Pharmacy is proud and well-positioned to spearhead,” Schumock said.

The Retzkys’ contribution joins funding from the state, university and college as part of the Discovery Partners Institute.