Purdue University Oral History Project: Interview with Garnet E. Peck
Conducted by Katherine Markee on March 30, 2011
Courtesy of Purdue University Libraries, Archives and Special Collections
The following interview was conducted with Garnet E. Peck (GP) for the Purdue University Oral History Project. It took place on March 30, 2011, in his office in Pharmacy on campus. The interviewer is Katherine Markee (KM), the Oral Histories Librarian.
KM: Welcome, good morning.
GP: Good morning.
KM: Dr. Peck,tell us a little about where you were born and parents and early years.
GP: I was born in Windsor, Ontario, Canada. My mother was, maiden name was Dorothy Marinette [?]. She was French-Canadian. My father’s name was William and he was from the U.S. They met in Detroit where my mother worked as a secretary and my father was an accountant with a large ice firm that served Detroit and they met bowling. And it’s kind of interesting time, when they got married my father decided to live in Windsor and commute across the Detroit River and at the time that was done by ferry boat which was kind of interesting. It was later replaced by the Windsor-Detroit Tunnel and that changed things quite a bit for that particular area. I had two brothers, one ten years older than I and the other twelve years older. I had a half sister who was about 18 years older than I. Growing up my brothers would take care of me and that’s reflected by a number of photographs of them taking care of their little brother which was quite interesting. We had a very active time then growing up but because they were older then the thing that they did were much different than what I could do and what my mother would let me do with my brothers. Interesting times.
KM: What was high school like? Did you go to high school in Windsor as well?
GP: Yes I went to high school there. I went to, at the time was called Assumption High School which was affiliated right with Assumption College and that was associated with the University of Western Ontario. Later on Assumption College was the basis for the University of Windsor which now is a full blown university with a number of different colleges and a rather large enrollment which is located right under the Ambassador Bridge which connects Windsor and Detroit.
KM: Windsor and Detroit, ok. Was it a large high school? Was it co-ed or -?
GP: It was an all boys school. There were priests who were the teachers and my high school class was about 130 boys. Which made for interesting times.
KM: And it was close to where you lived so you—
GP: Yes it was, it was close. There was a girl’s academy on the edge of the city close to us and we frequently would go meet the bus that came in from the academy and meet up with the girls.
KM: Yeah for events and things like that.
KM: Ok, tell us then after high school before you went to Ohio Northern and then tell us about college, pharmacy.
GP: When I graduated from high school, the only possibility of work was in the auto industry; Windsor was the auto center of Canada at the time. It later on changed and plants moved out to, in particular up close to Toronto. Because of not wanting to work in the auto industry I went to stay with my sister in Cleveland, OH. My older brother had already gone to Cleveland to live and to work. And so I went and was able to start working at the same company that my brother was at which was a private label pharmaceutical firm. That is they manufactured for others and things were not sold under their name but they would label them with the name of the company that wanted the product made. This was an interesting experience because I worked with a variety of pharmaceutical products. Liquids, semisolids, tablets and capsules; got a broad background and I was just out of high school and I was there for about 4 and half years. I had started night school at Western Reserve University but then I was drafted for the United States Army in 1951 and left for the army and my first station was Fort Mead, Maryland. Then moved on the Indian Town, Gap, Pennsylvania. Then to Fort Sam in San Antonio and then was assigned as a pharmacy technician at Madigan Army Hospital in Tacoma, Washington. Spent some time there and then they decided I needed to leave so I was sent to Europe, first through Germany and then to Southern France and was stationed in Bordeaux for the balance of the time in my service which was about 9 months. That’s all I had left.
KM: Sounds good, ok. So then you came back and was—
GP: Then I returned and I had already made up my mind I was going to school and because I’d been associated with the pharmacy industry and pharmacy practice in the army I went to Ohio Northern University in 1953 and graduated in 1957. That is where I met my wife to be who was teaching Spanish at the time.
KM: At Ohio Northern?
GP: At Ohio Northern. She had spent two years in Japan, teaching for the United States Air Force as a civilian with an appointment from the University of California, San Francisco. She spent two years in Japan; I met her at Ohio Northern. We were involved with a group called the Newman Club and she was faculty advisor and I was one of the student officers and one thing led to another and I pinned her and I graduated from college in May and we were married in August. Actually we were married at Wellington, Ohio, small town. Then I told her we had to get married because I wanted to go to grad school and if you wanted to be with me you had—we had to get married so we did. I went to Purdue in 1957 and started my master’s degree, finished it in ’59. Continued on for a PhD degree and finished it in 1962 and I was able to obtain a job with Mead Johnson and company in Evansville, Indiana and work there in product development for 5 years. Doing all types of pharmaceutical development work. Again I worked in solids, liquids, semisolids, and even did some dental product research for oral materials to prevent decays. I was known as the person who was down in the mouth with their product development work and then in 1967 I was asked to consider a position at Purdue in my former department which now became the Department of Industrial and Physical Pharmacy. And I came back to Purdue in 1967 to begin my teaching.
KM: Ok, tell us a little about your research focus and some teaching, go ahead.
GP: The research went in a number of different directions partly because of my interest had been in the past somewhat varied as far as products and dosage form systems. I tended to be a dosage form person in the very beginning and thus we looked at solid formulations, how to improve them by various additives and in the beginning this caused me to have some emphasis on what are called excipients. The materials used to balk up a particular drug substance so you can have a reasonable size dosage form that can be handled. That becomes more important later on because of the strength of drugs. They became more potent as time has moved on versus what aspirin has been and that’s 325mg per tablet versus some of our steroids which are .1mg per tablet so there’s quite a difference and that requires these additives called excipients to be needed. Some of my early work involved the stability of aspirin and how it can be done with these various additives so that was one direction that my research took was looking at various things from time to time that were additives to various pharmaceutical products. I’ll get back to that in a moment; early on I was also involved with the coating of pharmaceutical tablets and developing a coating systems that not only would cover up taste but could also change the delivery time of the drug substance within the gastrointestinal tract. This became quite a bit of work and this was done in conjunction with my former professor who was also the department head, Gilbert Banker and we did a number of projects together and became somewhat of a team in the coating area. Later on Gill was able to come up with a system of converting polymeric materials into a latex like system where the insoluble material is dispersed in water as we see in latex paint. This was a pharmaceutical polymer that could be spread onto tablets and congeal, solidify and make an interesting coating but this could be done from a water base. At this point in time it was desirous to get away from solvent coating because we had done to this time organic solvent coating but because of the employee exposure to solvents, the fire hazards, etc there was this desire to get into so called aqueous coating. And this started to evolve in the late 70’s early 80’s and what we developed within the department was a coating system that was acquired by the FMC Corporation for marketing. They developed--a commercial development of the material was done by them and later became a product which is still on the market called aqua coat. A very successful water-based coating that contains ethyl cellulose and that material can be a protected for coating for products and also delay the release of products. This really was an important situation for the department and we moved forward with that but this was based upon a success with a graduate student who was from Caracas, Venezuela. A very good student, she later, when she went back home became a director of product development for several firms and also taught at the National University in Caracas. She was an outstanding student but I have to say she was one of a number that I was fortunate enough to have over my career.
KM: Was that the one that looked at the patent?
GP: No, that’s a different one.
KM: Ok, that’s a different one, ok. You want to talk—you were making some comment about teaching?
GP: Oh, yeah I should. When I came I was team teaching with the department head in advanced pharmaceutics and at the time we were—we had 160 students in the class but we would have half of them on the first semester and half the second semester. The course had a lab which required students to become very knowledgeable in dosage form design of all types of products. Again these would be tablets, capsules, ointments, suspensions, emulations. We gave them a very thorough background in this kind of work in the lab and the labs were very interesting and most of the students enjoyed it very much. We did have a requirement that was not necessarily that enjoyable for the students, at least they didn’t think so and that was a term paper. We had very good support with our library system to assist our students in this project so this was being done in their 3rd year at the time and then later on it was moved into the 4th year but it gave them an opportunity to specialize in one particular facet of pharmaceuticals. It could be design, it could be why a particular dosage form might be required or it might even be a compound that may have been exciting that the time so this was a variety of things for them. But what it taught them was how to search the library and also how to do some writing and again there were sometime some difficulties but the faculty were always available to help them in their progress through doing this term paper. For some it was the first scientific paper that they may have worked on so that’s what we always tried to sell to the students that this is an exciting venture and it will help you later on. Course we convinced ourselves that they should do it but they weren’t too convinced on it. That was an important element of this particular course so the students would have a certain amount of lecture material, a certain amount of laboratory material and then the exposure to scientific writing. That’s probably what we—our objectives were in the course.
KM:Sounds good. Moving on to some committees, would you talk about the senior student drug field trips that took place at one time?
GP: We were fortunate as a pharmacy school to participate in senior trips to several pharmaceutical firms. It’s kind of interesting historically to note that Purdue was the first school to tour Eli Lilly in Indianapolis and there’re various pictures in their archives of this particular group of students. We primarily visited over a two year period three companies. Sometimes this changed for a couple of years when another company would want to see our students but in general we were visiting Eli Lilly in Indianapolis, the Up John Company in Kalamazoo, Michigan, and Park Davis in Detroit, Michigan. Of course this is all changed today because these names have become lost already so that Park Davis is now absorbed in Fisor [?] however was absorbed by a couple other companies before that. The Up John Company became Up John Pharmacia and that’s been absorbed further. Eli Lilly remains on its own and it’s amazing and it’s able to withstand the pressures of having to enlarge to be a competitor. But the students were able to see manufacturing up close, they were also treated to some specialty talks by scientists from the companies. But also marketing people, sales people and sometimes clinical researchers would talk to the students for certain periods of time so there was really a good emphasis on education. Now the students did stay overnight so there was some night education which we didn’t control but the students took care of that. But they got to know each other frequently and I was amazed to learn when I first got involved with this that some students had never been out of Indiana and this was a big, a big situation for them and that too can be a positive learning factor for them so these were exciting trips for them.
KM: A university committee, the Trask committee on research project development?
GP: Yes, the—
KM: Researcher will be interested in hearing what that committee was.
GP: Yeah, the Trask Family gave to the graduate school a certain amount of funds to be used to sponsor research projects that would have to be approved by a committee of about, at the time I was on it, about 7 people. This would be headed by the dean of the graduate school, there would be somebody from the business office and at least three faculty members and this group would review proposals that individuals wanted to have funded and generally they couldn’t funded by other means so this was a way to help them out.
KM: Would it be a cross disciplines or—
GP: It was a cross disciplines and it was tended to be more in the sciences at the time I was on the committee. A lot of good projects were proposed from the school of agriculture as I remember. Although the chemistry department would frequently have good proposals and the people within the school of pharmacy seemed to present real good proposals. I was on the committee I think about 8 years and then they had the committee, as happens, changed and they had desire to have other people on and it was probably good to shift off and get new ideas into it but it was a certain fund available to try and encourage faculty research to look towards the patent area. Later on as this expanded some very large projects were funded by Trask after great successes with commercialization of some patents here, from Purdue. In particular from biomedical engineering. This then boosted the funds because you had to have the funds come back to Trask if you were successful to repay the Trask funds and to build up the Trask fund and that’s what happened over the years. Today I’m not sure what the value of it is but at the time I was on the committee the most you could get was a grant of $45,000. Today they could be large grants.
KM: Could be large, ok very good. The industrial pharmacy lab, which you the director for some period of time.
GP: We had accumulated a number of pieces of equipment that could be used for pharmaceutical processing and we wanted to—
KM: Were these gifts?
GP: Some were gifts; some were purchased because in the early days we actually manufactured products for the health center so that some of those—some of that income then went right back into purchase equipment or repair equipment or the like. We had a number of gifts also of equipment which we worked at very hard so it was an accumulation of equipment and the feeling was let’s try and recognize what we’ve got so the industrial pharmacy laboratory was named and I was named the director of it. So I coordinated some activities within that facility. We had, over the years, projects from various schools on campus, in particular agriculture. One project I had involved tomato seeds, blending it with an herbicide and an insecticide and an appropriate carrier that would absorb moisture when this tablet was put in the ground and then it would active the seed and the other components to protect the plant as it grew. So this was a project that they were trying to do. Turned out that the challenge to make the right size tablet with the right material was bigger than we could conquer because the requirement was that once it was in the ground it would quickly take up water. Well some of the materials that you have do that are not to stable so we worked on it for quite a while and finally gave up on it.
KM: Ok, the—your associate department head.
GP: During this time, before that I had been doing this work and that was working with income graduate students and applications for income graduate students. This particular activity got to take up quite a bit of time and it was necessary for me to spend more time with the graduate student admissions because for a while we were getting up to 100, almost 100 applications in a year and to coordinate all of this fortunately with a secretary it could be done but that was a major part of the associate directors job. Also assist in coordination of course planning as far as timing is concerned, those sorts of things.
KM: Yeah, ok, alrighty. Couple things about your consultings, you want to make any comment on some consulting that you’ve done?
GP: We have consulted for a number of different people in a number of different areas as one might imagine the coating area was an important consulting activity. From the time when people were sugar coating tablets we spent some time with Marianne Mariel Dowel in [inaudible]. We also did consulting work with Eli Lilly in Indianapolis, also in the sugar coating area when it was popular. Of course sugar coating started to disappear, that’s a long process and it was being replaced by film coating which is a much shorter process so those were several areas. Another area since I had developed expertise in tablets, I consulted for a number of firms in the tableting area.
KM: Ok the management conference for the Pharmaceutical Industry.
GP: We—well Gill Banker and a gentleman from industrial engineering, Jim Buck, thought that it might be interesting to try to apply industrial engineering concepts to pharmaceutical field but go in first of all through the management area, industrial engineering can help out in designing appropriate approaches in management so for the first few years this is what it was about. Acquiring speakers from various firms, various backgrounds, to talk about what they see could be done to improve the manufacturing pharmaceuticals by possibly better approaches to management skills. That was the way it started out but we started to move into technology, added to straight management things and we also—well because of this then we fell into associating ourselves with the food and drug administration and their office of compliance. This—you don’t know how these things come about but one of their people came to one of our conferences to hear a particular series of topics and next thing you know we have the director of the office of compliance wanting to come and wanting to be part of the planning for our particular conferences. So in a few years it grew into a significant part of—for people to come and come to our conference because they know that the Food and Drug Administration is possibly going to give a significant presentation. Now they couldn’t tell exactly what might being going to happen but they could make hints and so we built up a reputation of having somebody from the office of Compliance here on our program. We attracted in the beginning a lot of our alumni and a lot of the alumni then became advisors to the program. And we had at the time alumni in every major pharmaceutical firm and because of that then we got extremely good ideas for the conference. Frankly that made the success of it. Our alumni were great in supporting us and then this relationship with the Food and Drug Administration was also a big positive for the management conferences.
KM: Good combination, both of those. Yeah, ok. The Farm Tech Conferences, you were on the planning committee?
GP: This is a conference that was put together to be able to present materials about the preparation of various solid dosage forms in particular and the possible coating of these particular products. So a gentleman from Michigan, I had worked with a technical firm in Michigan who was primarily doing courses for engineering but of a solid kind of thing. More for mechanical engineers, they did try to get into pharmaceuticals but they found that it was too much work for them to try and develop anything in that area. So this gentleman I got to know decided to branch out and form an organization to do just pharmaceuticals. So this became a group called Tech Source. And what I became was a major lecturer for material on solid dosage forms for individuals of a non-pharmacy background who found themselves in the pharmaceutical industry and needed some further knowledge. So these presentations were generally over a 4 day period. There would be a select group of lecturers with all sorts of backgrounds to build up the expertise of the individuals that found themselves needing to know more about pharmaceuticals.
KM: Right, ok, that works. The patent, make a comment on that?
GP: I haven’t had that much material to get into the patent area except when I started to work with a young lady by the name of Cindy Blaze, we were supported by then Miles Laboratory from Elkhart, Indiana and we would work together with this company to come up with a project that might be of mutual interest. In discussing things it came up that maybe if we could we could develop a system that aspirin and an antacid could be put together in a product in a simple form. Up until that time, if you wanted an aspirin and an antacid you had to make what’s called a 2 layer tablet where the aspirin would be in 1 layer and antacid in another. That process can be done but the tablet presses are slow so we got into this and because of our interests in general here in coating we started to look at what coating materials could be used how we might approach it. What we came up with was a system where we coated the aspirin with appropriate polymer. Not too much polymer to change the disintegration of the aspirin in the gastrointestinal track but just enough to protect it from antacid so we developed this system, we could mix the two materials together, the coated aspirin and the antacid material and form a tablet. This was successful in not only the tablet process but also the stability of the system. So we came up with a stable product that could be marketable system. And we worked with Miles Laboratory to develop the patent.
KM: Ok, alrighty. Talk about family, children, did any come to Purdue or-?
GP: Oh my. We have 4 children, 2 girls, 2 boys. The girls were first and then the boys so the girls could take care of the boys. The oldest daughter went to Purdue in education, elementary education. Daughter number 2, went into animal science with a possibly of going into the vet school but her third year required a lot of manipulation of animals and some of it was close to surgery and she didn’t think it would be a good area for her so she finished off in animal science. Oddly enough she later went on to work in various departments within the school of agriculture and then later on with some vets and she currently in a vet clinic and does minor surgery and other things with animals and she loves it. Our third is a son who is a graduate of Krannert in Industrial Management with a minor in Econ. And he is currently a consultant working out of Chicago. He started out with R.R. Donnelly and Sons and then went to several other firms within Chicago area and got into consulting work and his area of expertise is in finance. The youngest son is now working for Amgen, in pharmaceutical sales. He has worked for Novartis and worked up through district manager but then decided to leave there to get into something different and the products that Amgen had were quite different from Novartis, Novartis approach is different because it’s a Swiss firm. Amgen is a California firm so it’s quite different. All four are Purdue graduates. They didn’t have to go to Purdue, certainly glad they did. When you have two in college at one time, it can be a little tough, but being a faculty member at least I had some break with their tuition but in order it’s Monique, Denise, Philip, and John.
KM: Ok, alrighty. Awards and honors; the Sidney L. Riegelman Research Achievement Award.
GP: That was given to me, I think it’s 1992.
KM: ’94 maybe?
GP: Or ’94, yes ’94. That was recognition of the work I have done over the years in the general area of pharmaceutics which would also include work in physical pharmacy but it also included things from industrial pharmacy area. Dr. Regaleman was a professor at University of California in San Francisco. Very successful pharmaceutics researcher, it was quite an honor to receive that because of the people that received it before me who were all outstanding and I was pleased that they would choose me to receive that award. That was done, given at the time by the American Pharmaceutical Association which is now called the American Pharmacists Association.
KM: And then same year you also got the Pharmaceutical Technology Award.
GP: Yes, Pharmaceutical Technology is a trade system that sponsors conferences but also has a trade journal called the Pharmaceutical Technology and I have been on their advisory board since about 1982. We’ve done a number of different things with them. We’ve done them for the journal but we’ve also done them for the conferences. Supplying ideas, speakers and being speaker myself so we had a lot of input with this organization and in recognition of all of those things I did for them this is what was given to me and it was also in ’94.
KM: The Distinguished Alumni from the college.
GP: That was—
KM: Very nice.
GP: That was really something.
KM: Can you tell us, how did you hear about it? They want to be sure your are the event.
GP: Oh yeah.
KM: Bring a friend.
GP: Kind of interesting, when this was formed or conceived in I think it’s 1984.
KM: The alumni award from the college?
GP: Yes, it was said that no faculty member could receive the award so that’s the way it went up until now. However I’m an Emeritus Professor and I’m not a full time faculty, I have a part time appointment so there were two faculty from the department, lobbied for this with the office of the dean. Simply saying that they thought because of what I’ve done in pharmaceutics, in education, that I should get the award. You hear about these things and these, what’s going on and what some people are trying to do so your aware of it but when the executive committee said yes, I was absolutely thrilled because you spend your years with the department and you have a lot of good input and this was extremely rewarding and it was quite an event. Couple of friends also received awards on that day so I was again—it was quite an honor to receive it. My children were here to see the presentation and the only sad thing was my wife wasn’t here.
KM: Yeah it was nice. Do you have a Purdue tradition?
GP: I guess the Purdue tradition is the enthusiasm over football. We got into this while I was a graduate student and never left it. We are fortunate to have met over the years some of the coaches, and some of the outstanding players. One of the outstanding players was a vice president at Eli Lilly, this is Ainge Carnegie who distinguished himself as a football player and then we got another young man, Roger Williams, who played nose guard and who was a pharmacy student but I thought he was too good looking to be playing nose guard but he was a very good football player and one of my good friends today is Bub DeMoss. I see him periodically so then you get caught up especially if you like football on the number of quarterbacks that Purdue has had who have been very successful. But I guess I’m really wrapped around football.
KM: Sounds good, ok, Ross-Ade. Do you have an outstanding event? Probably have more than one and outstanding event that you’d like to—that comes to mind?
GP: Oh, oh dear. I think that I have been fortunate in my position within the department and the school to have been able to go to a number of conferences. Certainly alone but there have been many opportunities where I was able to take my wife with me and all of these events were significant to me and to her. One of the last big ones we went to was a conference in Barcelona. Maryellen was fluent in Spanish so we had a great time in Barcelona the only problem was when I was lecturing she was out going to the shops around the hotel. Now she didn’t buy anything, what she did was kind of take an inventory of what she wanted, then after the conference I had to go back with her and we did shopping. But that’s a wonderful city, a lot to see and of course it had had a—the World’s Fair. And some of the facilities still remain, on the other hand I was asked to lecture a number of times in Puerto Rico. Part of this was educational in nature some of it was to be part of conferences and not necessarily lecture but to advice and Maryellen was able to go along with me and we spent several different meetings in Puerto Rico and she was careful in the beginning what words to use because of the meanings are different in Puerto Rico than they are in Mexico because Maryellen had studied in Mexico so she know that words could be very bad in country versus the other so in the beginning she was slow but after a while she got quite used to it. But in Puerto Rico there was again an opportunity for a number of conferences that she could go along with me and that was real significant.
KM: Real special. Right, in closing I’m going to leave it up to you, something I forgot to ask or reflections.
GP: When I look back it’s hard to believe that I came as a faculty member in 1967 and first in the old pharmacy school, pharmacy building and then moving into the new building in 1970 and still having an office in the building today. Purdue has offered for me a number of opportunities to interact with students, faculty, administrators. I served the senate as master of arms for several years and that was interesting to interact with the University Senators which is an important organization for the faculty but I think Purdue has been exciting for me because of people the people at all kinds of levels. I think the top of that is the students. That has kept me going and I still claim that keeps me young so this is what it’s all about.
KM: Yeah, thank you very much Dr. Peck, it was very good.