UC Irvine launches state’s first public pharmacy school in almost two decades

Following approval from the UC Board of Regents, UC Irvine announced the establishment of its School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences on Tuesday, making it the first new public pharmacy school in California in nearly two decades.

The school is comprised of the existing department of pharmaceutical sciences and the new department of clinical pharmacy practice.

It is part of the Susan and Henry Samueli College of Health Sciences, which includes the School of Medicine, the Sue and Bill Gross School of Nursing and a planned School of Population and Public Health.

The program will be housed in a $185-million health sciences complex announced in February this year that will include a five-level, 108,200-square-foot building for the Susan and Henry Samueli College of Health Sciences and an adjoining four-level, 71,500-square-foot building for the Sue and Bill Gross School of Nursing.

The health sciences building will house the Susan Samueli Integrative Health Institute.

UC Irvine's planned 9-acre health sciences complex at the corner of Bison and California avenues.

UC Irvine’s planned 9-acre health sciences complex at the corner of Bison and California avenues will feature new homes for the Susan and Henry Samueli College of Health Sciences and the Sue and Bill Gross School of Nursing.

(Courtesy of UCI)

“We started the department [of pharmaceutical sciences] in 2007 and that is still a department in the school of pharmacy, but it is very research-oriented and prepares undergraduate students for future careers in drug development,” Tom Vasich, a spokesman for UCI, said on Tuesday, “but what the School of Pharmacy now allows us to do is to offer a doctorate in pharmacy.”

Students will be able to begin to enroll in the doctor of pharmacy program in fall 2021. The school includes existing programs for bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral, postbaccalaureate and combined degrees. The school received approval on Thursday.

“We’re part of this group, this college of health sciences to help train future healthcare professionals. We have a school of medicine, nursing, public health, hopefully of population, and now a pharmacy school,” Vasich said.

“The pharmacist is trained how to determine the optimum uses of drugs and therapies and pharmacists are involved with the distribution of chemotherapy, those types of things. How is the pharmacist part of that process?” Vasich said. “The idea is that the pharmacists we create, they’re … going to be working in major healthcare environments to help drive healthcare in a new direction.”

Jan Hirsch, professor of clinical pharmacy, will be the founding dean of the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.

Jan Hirsch, professor of clinical pharmacy, will be the founding dean of the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at UC Irvine.

(Steve Zylius / UCI)

“The school will provide innovative, integrative, learner-centered education; cutting-edge pharmaceutical and biomedical research; and national leadership in interprofessional, patient-centered healthcare,” founding dean Jan Hirsch said in a statement.

“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,” Hirsch 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,” Hirsch said.

UCI Chancellor Howard Gillman said the university was thrilled to be launching the new School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences as part of the university’s “bold reimagining of healthcare, one that shifts the focus of patient care from treating ailments to preventing them.”

“Infused with that spirit, the school will concentrate on the whole patient, spanning the continuum from drug discovery to clinical practice,” Gillman said.

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