Thinking he had a better idea, he began assembling a handy guide of these clinical pearls. Much to his surprise, Knoben wound up launching a classic in pharmaceutical literature that became a required text for generations of students and an indispensable resource for pharmacists and physicians worldwide. His Handbook of Clinical Drug Data described the mechanisms, drug interactions, pros and cons, and other characteristics of more than 1,200 drugs. “There was nothing else on the market at the time,” says Knoben, who served as co-editor with two classmates for 10 editions of the book. 

Thinking nationally 

Knoben was always fond of organizations and, during his student years, served as president of the pharmacy school’s student body and alumni association. After graduating, he embarked on a career with the U.S. Public Health Service while continuing to juggle his editorial responsibilities. 

Getting into UCSF, was one of the best things in my life.


During a 45-year career at an array of federal agencies, Knoben emerged as a pioneering pharmacist in government service. He won accolades – including three U.S. Surgeon General’s Exemplary Service Medals – for improving access to drug information, introducing a new breed of doctors of pharmacy to policy making, and supporting the U.S. Public Health Service. 

Pharmacists’ advocate

As the first pharmacist to direct the Food and Drug Administration’s Division of Drug Information Resources, Knoben demonstrated that pharmacists could contribute valuable expertise to drug information and new drug application reviews. “There was a need and a role for pharmacists trained in much more than dispensing,” says Knoben, who routinely hired clinical pharmacists and offered summer jobs to PharmD students.

Today, Knoben is helping millions of patients, practitioners, researchers, and others tap into a wealth of information at the National Library of Medicine, the world’s largest medical library. Now semi-retired, he serves as a drug information consultant and manages electronic databases focused on liver-damaging drugs and medications for breastfeeding women. 

Looking back, Knoben is grateful for the opportunities UCSF gave him. In fact, his first job was as a special assistant in the Public Health Service to the late Donald Brodie, PhD, a nationally recognized clinical pharmacy theorist and former UCSF professor. 

“Getting into UCSF,” he says, “was one of the best things in my life.”

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