UC Irvine to launch School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences

Sandra Levy
Senior Editor
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A new pharmacy school is set to open in the fall of 2021. The University of California, Irvine is launching the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, the first public pharmacy school in the Los Angeles-Orange County region and a pillar of UCI’s expanding Susan and Henry Samueli College of Health Sciences.

“We’re thrilled to launch the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences as the next step in UCI’s bold reimagining of healthcare, one that shifts the focus of patient care from treating ailments to preventing them,” said Chancellor Howard Gillman. “Infused with that spirit, the school will concentrate on the whole patient, spanning the continuum from drug discovery to clinical practice.”

According to Founding Dean Jan Hirsch, professor of clinical pharmacy, the new school will be a driving force for advancing the health and wellness of individuals and society.

“The school will provide innovative, integrative, learner-centered education; cutting-edge pharmaceutical and biomedical research; and national leadership in interprofessional, patient-centered healthcare,” she said. “We will educate pharmaceutical scientists and clinical pharmacists who will be integral to discovering and implementing new solutions to optimize medication usage, patient outcomes and cost-effective healthcare.”

UC Irvine's new pharmacy school will be part of its College of Health Sciences, which is currently being built. Image courtesy UC Irvine

UCI’s school – which was approved by University of California regents on July 30 – will be the third such venture in the UC system and California’s first new public pharmacy school in nearly two decades.

“The School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences is a cornerstone for the Susan and Henry Samueli College of Health Sciences, a first-of-its-kind alliance of health disciplines that is redefining research, education and patient care,” said Steve Goldstein, vice chancellor for health affairs. “Patients are best cared for by interprofessional teams of physicians, nurses, pharmacists and investigators, each contributing at the top of their field. To work together, those in the disciplines must learn together. The college is establishing a new standard for how we train the diverse healthcare workforce of tomorrow.”

The school comprises the existing Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences and the new Department of Clinical Pharmacy Practice. It’s one of only a few schools in California to be part of an academic health center, and the faculty’s research productivity places it in the top 10 of pharmaceutical sciences programs in the United States.

“The school comes at a time when advances in pharmaceutical research, technology and computational tools are fueling the rapid discovery of new treatments, diagnostics and prevention strategies, empowering personalized care and population health,” Goldstein said.

“The profession of pharmacy is undergoing a transformation from a focus on product delivery to the provision of direct patient care services as part of interprofessional, team-based healthcare,” said Hirsch.

A new Doctor of Pharmacy program will begin enrolling students in the fall of 2021 with the goal of producing practice-ready pharmacists to be medication experts on healthcare teams and problem-solvers to lead progressive change in the healthcare system. The Pharm.D. program joins existing programs leading to bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral, postbaccalaureate and combined degrees.

“UCI has a distinguished commitment to increasing diversity in the pharmaceutical sciences and the profession of pharmacy, as well as a history of attracting and educating underrepresented and first-generation students,” Hirsch said. “Not only is advancing diversity a distinctive opportunity for the new school, but I believe it’s an important responsibility – and one we take on wholeheartedly.”