School of Pharmacy Mourns Passing of Retired Professor

Ralph Blomster, PhD, is remembered for his more than 40 years of service to the School.

By Malissa Carroll
January 29, 2020

Ralph Blomster, PhD, professor emeritus of pharmaceutical sciences (PSC) at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy, passed away on Jan. 27.

“Dr. Blomster’s presence had an indelible impact on all of us at the School of Pharmacy,” says Natalie D. Eddington, PhD, FCP, FAAPS, dean and professor of the School. “He championed the cutting-edge research conducted by our faculty and was committed to ensuring a superior education for all of our students, always welcoming an opportunity to share his knowledge and expertise with them. With his recent passing, we have lost not only a caring colleague and great scientific mind, but also a beloved friend. Our thoughts are with his family during this difficult time.”

After receiving his doctorate in pharmacognosy – the study of plants and other natural resources as a potential source for medicinal drugs – Blomster joined the faculty of the School’s former Department of Pharmacognosy, serving as professor and chair of the department from 1968 to 1979. During that time, he journeyed to numerous South American countries, including Peru, Bolivia, and Brazil, where he spoke with traditional healers and collected samples of the plants they used to treat various illnesses. At the School, Blomster and his graduate students worked to isolate the active compounds in those plants, developing an anti-inflammatory compound and a wound-healing agent that were sold in Europe.

Blomster continued to serve as chair of the renamed Department of Medicinal Chemistry/Pharmacognosy until 1989. During his tenure, Blomster diligently worked to increase the number of faculty members in the department, which grew from 15 in 1968 to 50 in 1996, as well as enhance research, graduate education, and funding within the department.

But it was in his teaching and mentoring that Blomster truly shined. A passionate educator, Blomster delivered enthusiastic lectures sprinkled with humorous anecdotes to keep his students engaged. He also took time to mentor junior faculty members in his department. “He gave us advice, showed us the ropes, and helped us succeed,” says Alexander MacKerell, PhD, the Grollman-Glick Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences and director of the Computer-Aided Drug Design Center at the School of Pharmacy.

Blomster retired from the School in 1996. He is survived by his wife Merilyn; his daughter, Kirsten Keller, and her husband Thomas; his son, Erik Blomster, and his wife Shelly; his son, Leif Blomster, and his wife Kerry; his brother, Melvin Blomster, and his wife Marion; six grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren. He was predeceased by his brother, Paul Blomster.

Friends may call at Slack Funeral Home, P.A., 3871 Old Columbia Pike, Ellicott City, Md., 21043, on Wednesday, Jan. 29, from 2-4 p.m. and 6-8 p.m. Funeral services will be held at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, located at 2001 Old Frederick Rd., Catonsville, Md., 21228, on Friday, Jan. 31, at 1 p.m.

Please visit the Slack Funeral Home, P.A., website to view the full obituary.

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