Pharmacy’s Drab was student favorite and creator of service-learning program

Scott R. Drab — winner of the student-selected School of Pharmacy Preceptor of the Year Award in multiple years and creator of the school’s first service-learning program and a nationwide diabetes education program — died July 27, 2020.

Amy Seybert, chair of the school’s Department of Pharmacy and Therapeutics, joined the faculty alongside Drab in August 1997 and coordinated the beginning of the service-learning course with him.

“He was meticulous with his course planning, and he was excited to teach the class every day,” Seybert recalls. “Everything was planned; it was perfectly executed and the whole room came alive. He got everyone excited because he was so excited. He was a really impactful teacher.”

The program, she says, teaches students in their first year of pharmacy “how to give back, how to be human, how to speak to people,” as they serve at a soup kitchen or deliver books to patients in a hospital. The program places students in community pharmacies in their second year and hospital pharmacies in their third year.

When pharmacists-in-training took their month-long rotation through his clinic, she says, “the students tell us that experience changed their life.”

“He was the greatest storyteller I’ve ever seen,” Seybert says. “He lights up the room when he would teach. He was entertaining and funny, but he would hold those students accountable for what they had to learn, and they loved him for it.

“Teaching was his life,” she continues. “He loved teaching more than anyone I have ever met, and he was the best teacher I have ever seen.”

Drab was so gratified to receive continued student recognition that he endowed the honor as the Scott R. Drab Preceptor Award several years ago, Seybert says, as well as joining with colleagues to create the Student Resource Fund in the school and raising money as the auctioneer at school fundraising functions.

He also led the design team that created the DME, or Diabetes Mellitus Education, program, which developed video content featuring lectures by Drab and other diabetes experts, in use by more than 90 schools.

Born on Nov. 9, 1966, Drab graduated in 1989 from Pitt’s pharmacy school, then earned a certificate in alcoholism and drug dependencies from the University of Utah, and certificates as a diabetes care specialist and pharmaceutical care consultant from the Medical University of South Carolina. In 2000, he was awarded his Doctor of Pharmacy degree from Duquesne University.

At Pitt, he advanced from instructor to associate professor, and served as the pharmacy school’s director of professional experience programs (2000-2006) and experiential learning coordinator (1997-2000).

He was also director of University Diabetes Care Associates, a private practice, beginning in 2002, first in North Huntingdon, then in Jeannette and Greensburg.

Beginning in his student days, he received many awards, from the University of Pittsburgh Leadership Award (1987) and membership in the Rho Chi Pharmacy Honor Society (1988) to the school’s Rho Chi Society Innovation in Teaching Award (2014) and Outstanding Scholarly Contribution Award (2016) and its Cohen Teacher of the Year Award that same year. In 2019, Drab was named a distinguished alumnus.

He was invited to present his clinical research throughout the United States and published many book chapters and papers concerning the pharmaceutical care, understanding and treatment of diabetes. He was a certified diabetes educator, a board certified advanced diabetes management specialist and an internationally known diabetes pharmacist.

Also known for his collection of antique cars, Drab provided one of them, a Jaguar, to Jerry Seinfeld for an episode of his Netflix series, “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.”

Drab is survived by his wife, Amanda Lawson-Drab; their children, Grayson and Delaney; his parents, Richard and Connie Benko Drab; and his sister, Kathleen Weissberg (Jason), as well as numerous aunts, uncles and cousins. 

Memorial donations are suggested to the Scott R. Drab Student Resource Fund, University of Pittsburgh Philanthropic & Alumni Engagement, 128 North Craig Street, Pittsburgh, PA, 15260. 

A virtual memorial service will be held on Oct. 5. Find details here.

— Marty Levine