John Leung’s legacy: Supporting patients, pharmacy students, and the profession

Commencing Winter 2021 outstanding undergraduate pharmacy students entering the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences at UBC can be supported by the John Wai Chung and Susanna Leung Entrance Award in Pharmacy as a result of a $500,000 gift. These renewable entrance awards totaling $40,000 were established by John Leung and his family in 2019, shortly before John passed away. John Leung was widely respected among the pharmacy community, with peers and patients knowing him as someone who was full of energy, always smiling, and greatly committed to his community and profession. The Leung family’s generous gift is the first of its kind created to support students in the Entry-to-Practice Doctor of Pharmacy program and the largest individual donor-funded student award in the Faculty. It has since been matched by a $500,000 contribution from the President’s Blue and Gold campaign.

John Wai Chung Leung was born in Macau, China. After immigrating together with his wife Susanna to Vancouver in 1972, John graduated with a bachelor of science in pharmacy from UBC in 1977. Upon graduation he began his career at United Pharmacy in Squamish under the mentorship of David Stewart. John and Susanna subsequently relocated to Abbotsford and founded Fraser Western Drug Mart together with two UBC pharmacy classmates, and in 1983 John attained full ownership of the store and rebranded to Peoples Drug Mart. The store received the Peoples Drug Mart Most Improved Store award in 2008. In 2010, John relocated the store and rebranded to Newgen PharmaChoice—as it remains today.

Susanna Leung speaks to the central role John’s chosen profession played in his life. “Pharmacy gave John a very good career and life,” she says. “He was tremendously proud of the lifelong connections he made with his customers and staff, some of whom returned to him for advice for over 35 years. He was able to witness many of his customers’ journeys from newlyweds, to young parents, to becoming new grandparents.” John's youngest son, Andrew, graduated from UBC Pharm Sci in 2016 and joined the team at Newgen PharmaChoice where he will continue in his father’s footsteps as a trusted and loyal pharmacist to the Abbotsford community.

John’s family note that his motivation to support future UBC pharmacy students—by way of this gift—sprung from his desire to give back on both an individual level and to the profession. Individually, he wanted to financially support UBC pharmacy students to achieve their goals. More broadly, he recognized that the future of pharmacy is an exciting one with an evolving scope of practice. “He wanted to inspire young pharmacists to continue to progress the profession of pharmacy as a whole,” Susanna says. “It was his hope that future recipients of this award might consider giving back at the end of their careers too and help further support growth in pharmacy practice.”

 “We are tremendously grateful for this wonderful gift from the Leung family,” says Dr. Michael Coughtrie, professor and dean. “John’s work as a pharmacist positively impacted the lives of many members of his community, and through this generous gift his legacy will also positively impact the lives of our students and their future patients.”

The John Wai Chung and Susanna Leung Entrance Awards in Pharmacy will be awarded on the recommendation of the Faculty to incoming students who demonstrate exceptional leadership skills, community service, and extra-curricular achievement together with academic merit. 

To learn more about how you can support UBC Pharm Sci and make a difference, please click here

In Memory of John Leung
February 7, 1952 – December 24, 2019

1977 - 1980
Owner, John Leung, started his journey working for one of the biggest department stores/pharmacies in Squamish, BC. It is here where he learned from his mentor about how to run a successful store and pharmacy.

1980 - 1983
In 1980, John moved to Abbotsford, BC and partnered with two other pharmacy classmates to open the pharmacy under the name Fraser Western Drug Mart.


1983 - 2010
In 1983, John obtained sole ownership of the pharmacy and joined the Peoples Drug Mart banner.

2010 - 2016
In 2010, the store made the move to NewGen Professional Centre and eventually changed the name to NewGen PharmaChoice. Pharmacists Brian Lamont and Audrey Mak have dedicated years to serving the Abbotsford community to this day as well.

2016 – Present.
In 2016, John's youngest son, Andrew, graduated from the UBC Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences and joined the team. Andrew has received mentorship from John and plans to continue John’s legacy in the Abbotsford community.