UH Hilo pharmacy alumna Cherie Chu receives tenure at her alma mater

Associate Professor Cherie Chu was the first UH Hilo pharmacy alumni to sign on as full faculty and is the first to receive tenure.

Cherie Chu pictured with UH Hilo Pharmacy College building.
Cherie Chu and Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy.

By Jordan Hemmerly.
This story is part of a series on newly tenured faculty.

Cherie Chu, an alumna of University of Hawai‘i at Hilo’s inaugural pharmacy class, has received tenure at the university’s Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy. She is an associate professor of pharmacy practice at her alma mater.

“Tenure is a huge accomplishment for me,” says Chu, who hails from East O‘ahu. “I feel like I’ve grown with and from my tenure.”

Chu received her UH Hilo pharmacy degree in 2011 among a cohort of 80 new doctors of pharmacy. At graduation, she was given the Mylan Excellence in Pharmacy Award for academic achievement, professional motivation, and a demonstrated ability to communicate drug information.

She went on to complete a pharmacy practice residency at Banner Baywood Medical Center and Heart Hospital in Mesa, AZ, and then returned to UH Hilo to complete a specialized pharmacy residency in critical care at the newly renamed Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy. She started as faculty at UH Hilo in 2013.

Associate Professor Chu was the first UH Hilo pharmacy alumni to sign on as full faculty and is the first to receive tenure. She feels her most significant contributions to the university and her field are initiating change and doing everything she can to assure students are ready to practice upon graduation.

“Initiating change in the field of pharmacy is a necessary part to assure the best possible patient care is delivered to our patients,” she says. “Changes in practice through protocol development, inter-professional collaboration and education are all things I feel I have contributed to at my practice site and at state and national levels.”

Chu is a board certified critical care pharmacist and holds professional licensure in the states of Hawai‘i and Arizona.

Chu teaches through both lectures and in clinical settings. Her practice site where her students are on rotation year round is Adventist Health Castle Medical (AHCM), where she is onsite three or fours days a week, teaching students and providing full clinical pharmacist services at the medical center. She functions as the sole intensive care unit pharmacist while at AHCM.

She says community service, serving on committees, and working on course development have all played equally important roles in the accumulation of her professional successes. For her exceptional work, she received the college’s 2014-2015 Faculty Preceptor of the Year Award, and serves as the faculty member at Adventist Health Castle hospital to provide support and mentorship to preceptors.

Chu is well published in the areas of obesity, integrated large-scale data, and stewardship programs in Hawai’i. She currently is investigating three areas: intergenerational awareness of pharmacological science, infection in hospital patients, and appropriate use of medicine at small community hospitals in Hawai‘i. In 2021, she published a paper on corticosteroid use in severely ill COVID-19 patients on mechanical ventilation.

Along with her research and with developing new education programs for pharmacy students at UH Hilo, she says her commitment to the communities of Hawai‘i Island and the state are intrinsic to her overall passion for the profession, most notably through her hospital work.

Chu says her passions are both clinical and educational. She enjoys teaching and seeing the success of many of the graduates. She’s active in alumni relations and has planned many alumni events. “It’s so rewarding to see our graduates at these events and to see how successful they have become.”

​ “I’ve been with the [college] through many firsts, from its beginnings in 2007 as a student to present day as a tenured faculty,” she says. “I look forward to experiencing many more new projects and endeavors with the college and my clinical practice, as I am vested in the success of the [college] and that of the pharmacists that it produces.”

By Jordan Hemmerly, a marine science major at UH Hilo.