Richard Rocco

Richard M. Rocco

Associate Professor PhD

Programs and Courses Taught

Doctor of Podiatric Medicine
Master of Physician Assistant

PA 608 Pharmacology I
PM 716 Pharmacology I
PM 719 Pharmacology II
PM 782 Clinical Skills Ethics Module

About Me

My career after graduate school was spent entirely in hospital clinical laboratories in various supervisory positions including Medicare licensed director. I transferred to industrial medicine as Director and eventually VP of Product Development. This work focused on rapid drug detection diagnostics and methods for monitoring HIV drug therapy. I hold five US patents focused on diagnostic devices. My teaching career began with courses in pharmacology and toxicology in a graduate program at San Francisco State University followed by my current Associate Professor position at SMU. I have a daughter who is a fine arts photographer, a son who is a children’s book illustrator and three grandchildren.


My education in the medical field began with training and certification as a clinical laboratory technician. This occupation was practiced part-time at numerous hospital laboratories through college and graduate school. Education continued for the next many years in various supervisory positions in hospital laboratories and industry.

Teaching Interests

Clinical pharmacology, clinical ethics and anything having to do with the history of medicine.

Scholarly Interests

My funded laboratory research at SMU has focused on laboratory experiments to determine the role of glycation on protein dysfunction as a causative factor in the complications of diabetes, especially peripheral neuropathy. I built a portable low-cost battery-operated LED microscope for use in resource limited clinics that has been taken by the PA department on their medical brigade to the jungles of Panama. My life-long interest in the history of medicine and pharmacology have led to presentations and publications on George Riess, DPM, for whom the SMU Anatomy Lab is named; William S. Porter, MD, the founder of Merritt Hospital; Joachim Kohn, MD, the inventor of cellulose acetate zone electrophoresis; and John P. Peters, MD, the famous Yale Medical School diabetes researcher whose career and life was destroyed by the McCarthy hearings of the 1950s.


Rocco, R. M, Joachim Kohn (1912-1987) and the Origin of Cellulose Acetate Electrophoresis, Clinical Chemistry 51(10):1896-1901 (2005)

Rocco, R. M., Landmark Papers in Clinical Chemistry, Elsevier, Amsterdam, 2006
Rocco, R. M., George H. Riess, DPM: Forty Years of Service to Medical Education. Podiatry Management, 30(1)135-138 (January 2011)

Rocco, R.M., Jack London, Yoshimatsu Nakata and the United States Bureau of Immigration, 1909. The Call. The Magazine of the Jack London Society, 28(1)7-8 (2017)

Rocco, R. M., John P. Peters (1887-1955): McCarthyism and the
Unfinished Revision of Quantitative Clinical Chemistry, J. Medical Biography 25(1):2-9 (2017)

Rocco, R. M., The Medical Treatment of Jack London on the Day That He Died: November 22, 1916. Accepted for publication February 2019.  

Professional Affiliations & Memberships

American Association of Clinical Chemistry (Emeritus)
American Institute of the History of Pharmacy, Madison, WI
The Chemical Heritage Foundation, Philadelphia, PA

Community Service

I am co-founder of the Community Learning Forum at Allen Temple Baptist Church in Oakland. This is an SMU sponsored out-reach program of monthly health related lectures given by the SMU faculty.