Press Releases


Dr. Mark Shaefer - ACPHS' 2024 Commencement Speaker
February 26, 2024

Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences announces its 144th Commencement Ceremony, to be held on Saturday, May 11 at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center in Saratoga Springs, NY. Nearly 250 undergraduate, graduate and PharmD students are expected to participate in the 1 p.m. ceremony.  

The event will be live streamed via the ACPHS website for families and friends who cannot attend in person. For details about the ceremony such as directions, accommodations and parking, please visit the 2024 Commencement web page.   

2024 Commencement Speaker  

Mark Shaefer, PharmD, FCCP will serve as the 2024 Commencement speaker. Shaefer is a veteran in the field of HIV and antiviral pharmaceuticals. He was one of the earliest members and helped guide the formation of ViiV Healthcare. His intensive pharmaceutical experience is complemented by expertise in clinical pharmacy, academic teaching, and research.  

“We are so pleased to welcome Dr. Shaefer as our 2024 Commencement speaker,” said Toyin Tofade, Professor and President, ACPHS. “His breadth of education and professional experiences in pharmacy and notably HIV research and pharmaceuticals will truly inspire our graduates – the future leaders of the health care field.”  

Shaefer’s pharmaceutical career in HIV and anti-virals began at Burroughs Wellcome where he worked on acyclovir and valaciclovir, and then moved to Glaxo Wellcome to oversee HIV clinical trials. He advanced to GSK, where his expertise over the next nine years led him to more senior roles including group director and acting vice president. At GSK, Shaefer facilitated merger integration activities and later, as acting vice president, he led the US HIV program, co-chaired the US Commercial Strategy team, and represented HIV interests on the North American Medical Executive team.  

In 2009, Shaefer left GSK to join ViiV Healthcare during its founding. There he led development efforts for a long-acting injectable integrase compound for HIV, prepared the organization to go public, and became one of ViiV’s three medical affairs heads.  

After five years in the initial role, he progressed to a position as global medical lead for Cabotegravir, a long-acting injectable drug for treatment and prevention of HIV. He retired briefly at the beginning of the COVID pandemic but returned to work for Hengrui, a large Chinese Pharmaceutical company and helped to launch Luzsana Biotechnology in the US. There he was head of antivirals and worked on the non-oncology portion of the portfolio. He left Luzsana in August 2022 to pursue independent consulting.  

Shafer has also held academic appointments as assistant and associate professor at the University of Nebraska, is widely published with more than 75 peer-reviewed publications and is valued as a reviewer for multiple industry journals. 

He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from the University of California at San Diego and earned a PharmD from the University of California at San Francisco. Shaefer completed a clinical pharmacy residency at the University of Nebraska Medical Center.  

About Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences 

Founded in 1881, Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (ACPHS) is a private, independent college dedicated to educating the next generation of leaders to improve the health of society. The College offers 13 undergraduate and graduate degree programs, including an online master’s in biomedical sciences and the only master’s in biomanufacturing and bioprocessing degree in the state. Students have myriad opportunities to extend what they are learning in the classroom through experiential learning opportunities such as in our Stack Family Center for Biopharmaceutical Education and Training (CBET) as well as at student-supported pharmacies in underserved communities and a public health Collaboratory, designed to alleviate community health disparities. ACPHS ranks #1 in New York State for best return on investment according to the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce and was graded an A+ for value by Niche. For more information, visit