The University of Iowa

UI Pharmaceuticals Senior Staff Average Over 20 Years With UIP and Over 25 Years in the Pharmaceutical Industry

The senior staff of University of Iowa Pharmaceuticals has the experience required to successfully provide the services you need.  Prior to joining UIP a number of senior staff have worked for large pharmaceutical firms including Abbott, Cambrex, Merck, and Upjohn.


Dennis Erb Managing Director


Dr. Dennis Erb returned to the University of Iowa in July 2019 as the Managing Director UI Pharmaceuticals.  Dennis has a comprehensive knowledge of the pharmaceutical industry including leadership positions spanning Research & Development and Manufacturing.  During his 30 year career at Merck he was directly involved in the approval of 18 original New Drug Applications / Biological License Applications.  Dennis has international experience in leading MSD's Research and Development organization in Japan.  After retiring from Merck as the Senior Vice President of Global Regulatory Affairs, he served as the CEO for a biotech start-up (CRESTOVO) exploring the clinical utility of the microbiome.  Dennis earned his Ph.D. in pharmaceutics from the University of Iowa College of Pharmacy in 1984.  He holds a bachelor of science degree in pharmacy from the University of Connecticut.


Chief Operating Officer for UI Pharmaceuticals Joshua Sestak image.


Dr. Joshua Sestak currently serves as the Chief Operating Officer of UI Pharmaceuticals.  Joshua has extensive experience in early-stage drug development within the pharmaceutical industry including bringing first in class therapies into the clinic. Joshua’s R&D experience has focused on the development of immune therapeutics, siRNA formulations, as well as novel delivery of peptide therapeutics.  He also brings expertise in completion of CMC requirements to support IND filing and clinical entry. Most recently he served as the CEO of Orion BioScience, a biotech start-up developing novel autoimmune therapeutics focused on re-establishing tolerance in early-stage patients with autoimmune diseases such as Type-1 Diabetes and Neuromyelitis Optica. Outside of work he enjoys exploring and spending time outdoors with his wife and four children.  Joshua earned his  Ph.D. in Pharmaceutical Chemistry from the University of Kansas and holds a B.S. in Chemistry and Biochemistry from Gonzaga University.





Jill graduated from the University of Iowa College of Pharmacy in 1991 with a B.S. in pharmacy and is a licensed pharmacist in the states of Iowa and Illinois. After obtaining her pharmacy degree in 1991, she began working at Abbott Laboratories in North Chicago, IL.  She worked in both Sterile and Non-Sterile Manufacturing, worked on the Product Validation team, and also spent time in Regulatory Affairs.  Jill began working for the University of Iowa Division of Pharmaceutical Service (now known as The University of Iowa Pharmaceuticals) in the Sterile Products Group as a Staff Pharmacist  beginning in August of 1999.  Throughout her almost 20 years here Jill has been responsible for the manufacturing of sterile products for both clinical and commercial use.  Jill specializes in aseptic processing, Clean Room operations, lyophilization scale-up and safe handling of potent compounds.  This includes responsibility for the manufacture of many lyophilized products, which often entails working with clients to develop and optimize lyophilization cycles, and ongoing validation of Sterile Products equipment and processes.




Samantha graduated from the University of Northern Iowa with a B.S. in Chemistry in 1994.  In 1994 she joined Salsbury Chemicals, an active pharmaceutical ingredient and fine chemical manufacturer, more recently known as Cambrex, in Charles City, IA, as a Quality Assurance Laboratory Technician.  As a laboratory technician, she was responsible for analytical testing of a variety of fine chemicals, pharmaceutical intermediates, and APIs.  In 1997, Samantha moved to the Chemical Development group where she was involved in the development of manufacturing processes for various fine chemicals, pharmaceutical intermediates and APIs.  In this role Sam worked on chemical processes from the development stage through full-scale production under cGMP regulations.  Her responsibilities included preparation of manufacturing records and production troubleshooting.  Sam has been involved in potent compound handling in both a laboratory setting and production environment.  In 2001, Sam moved back to the Quality Control Group as an Assistant Scientist/Stability Program Coordinator.  In 2003, she joined the University of Iowa Division of Pharmaceutical Service (now known as The University of Iowa Pharmaceuticals) as a Chemist in the Methods Development, Validation, and Preformulations Group.  She is now the director of this group as well as the entire analytical laboratory. 




Ram received his B. Pharm. Sci. degree (1995) and, M. Pharm. Sci. degree (1997) in Pharmaceutics from the University of Mumbai. Ram graduated with a PhD in Pharmaceutics (2002) from the University of Mumbai. In 2002, Ram joined the University of Minnesota as a Post-Doctoral Associate in the Department of Pharmaceutics where he worked till 2006. In 2006, Ram joined GlaxoSmithKline where, in different roles, he was responsible for preformulation, formulation & process development for drug products of new chemical entities, and product line extensions. During his time at GlaxoSmithKline, he was also appointed Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of Molecular Pharmaceutics at UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, North Carolina.  In 2015 Ram joined the University of Iowa Pharmaceuticals. In addition to his responsibilities in the Preformulation Division of The University of Iowa Pharmaceuticals, he is also a Clinical Assistant Professor of Pharmaceutics in the College of Pharmacy.




In 1987, Robin earned a Master of Science degree in Forensic Chemistry from Northeastern University, Boston, MA. From 1989 to mid 1992 Robin worked in the greater Boston area for a contract manufacturer of commercial aerosol drug products as a QC Chemist, then as Manager of the QC Laboratory. In mid 1992 she joined a Boston area start-up biotechnology company as their QA Manager. Some of the activities she was responsible for included: writing SOPs; sourcing vendors; managing and auditing contract manufacturers, clinical packagers, and GLP toxicology laboratories; and writing and approving validation protocols for laboratory equipment. In 1995 Robin joined the Center for Advanced Drug Development as the QA Manager and the Division of Pharmaceutical Services in to oversee laboratory quality. The two groups later merged to become the University of Iowa Pharmaceuticals. She is currently responsible for quality assurance in the UIP analytical laboratory.




Jeff graduated with a B.S. in Cell Biology from the University of Iowa in 1993.  He began working for the University of Iowa Division of Pharmaceutical Service (now known as The University of Iowa Pharmaceuticals) in 1991.  Jeff started working in the analytical laboratory performing in-process, finished product and stability analyses of various pharmaceutical products including sterile injectables, oral liquids and solids, and topical semisolids and liquid products.   From 1997 to 2011 he worked as a supervisor and then manager in the analytical laboratory.  In 2011 he was transferred to Manufacturing Quality Assurance as a manager and  assisted in supervising the quality assurance programs associated with drug product manufacturing and testing.  In 2017 assumed the leadership position over the Manufacturing Quality Assurance Group.


Picture of Louay Ghonaym, Director of Engineering and Facilities, UI Pharmaceuticals



Louay joined UIP in October 2019, graduated from the University of Utah , Salt Lake City with BS in Chemical Engineering, and an additional BS in Chemistry. Louay brings over 10 years  of experience in Pharmaceutical Manufacturing , Project Management, Medical Devices and General Chemicals. In addition to  managing  the engineering and facilities groups, Louay is Leading all the startup activities  of the new sterile manufacturing facility at the new College of Pharmacy Building (CPB). He has been leading the installation , design approval, validation of facilities, equipment, process, and environmental controls to meet FDA regulations to enable production of clinical and commercial product from the new facility.



Jeff Muir-Non Sterile department manufacturing manager


In 2007 as a senior at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Jeff joined Millipore Sigma (formerly Sigma Aldrich Fine Chemical), in Madison Wisconsin, where he held a laboratory technician position until he graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biochemistry in 2008.  At that time Jeff attained a permanent position with Millipore Sigma and held various API manufacturing positions until 2017.  In 2017 he transitioned to Cambrex Corporation in Charles City Iowa where he became an Assistant Superintendent leading the daily API manufacturing operations of several work centers.   During his time in the pharmaceutical industry, Jeff has led teams focused on small molecule synthesis, highly potent API manufacturing, and commercial development of drug substance.  He brings to UI Pharmaceuticals, experience in leading a GMP production facility as well as adding a new perspective from the API manufacturing viewpoint. Jeff joined the UI Pharmaceuticals team in May of 2020 as the Manufacturing Manager of the Non-Sterile Product manufacturing group.


Randy senior staff member

Randy graduated from the University of Iowa College of Pharmacy in 1986 with a B.S. in pharmacy.  He is a licensed pharmacist.  He began working for The Upjohn Company in 1986 in their Pharmacy Research Group as a Research Pharmacist.  The focus of his work there was the development of drug candidates from pre-IND stage through production phase-in.  In this capacity he gained extensive experience with the development of hydrophilic matrix sustained release tablets, various techniques used to enhance the solubility of poorly soluble compounds, the use of injection molding to prepare solid oral dosage forms, the formulation of compressed protein matrices, and the preparation of hot melt filled hard gelatin capsules.  In 1991 he joined Fort Dodge Animal Health, a Division of American Home Products, as Manager of Pharmaceutical Production.  In this role he was responsible for the transfer of pharmaceutical production operations into a newly built facility.  Once this work was completed he became the Director of Pharmaceutical Development and Analytical Services.  In 1993 he began working for the University of Iowa Division of Pharmaceutical Service (now known as The University of Iowa Pharmaceuticals) in the Solid Dosage Forms Group as a Staff Pharmacist.  He spent the next 15 years developing formulations and manufacturing solid oral dosage forms for use in clinical trials. During this time he obtained his MBA for the University of Iowa College of Business.  In 2008 a new Business Development Group was created at the University of Iowa Pharmaceuticals and Randy was appointed to lead it. In addition to his duties as part of UIP Randy is an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Pharmaceutics.