September 24, 2002

Southern California's First Public Pharmacy School Opens This Week at UCSD

When Brandi Bain, a San Diego nurse, decided to go back to school for a doctorate in pharmacy, she didn't relish the idea of leaving San Diego.

"My husband works at Qualcomm," Bain said. "Neither of us wanted him to walk away from that job." Not to mention that Bain, born and raised in Ramona, was about to give birth to her first child and wanted to stay close to family.

Bain got her wish. She applied for, and was accepted at, the new University of California, San Diego (UCSD) School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences the first public pharmacy school in Southern California, and only the second public pharmacy school in California which opens its doors this week. Until now, UC San Francisco was California's only state-supported institution offering a doctor of pharmacy degree (Pharm.D.), the minimum degree required for a licensed pharmacist to work.

Palmer Taylor, Ph.D.

"Many of the students selected for our program had also been accepted at UCSF, which is ranked the number-one pharmacy school in the U.S.," said Palmer Taylor, Ph.D., chair of the UCSD School of Medicine's Department of Pharmacology and chair of the planning committee for the new school. "That's an indication that our new pharmacy students are among the cream of the crop." In fact, the inaugural class of 25 men and women were selected from a pool of almost 500 applicants. Their average GPA is 3.57 and many have prior clinical and research experience, having been in nursing, psychology, and other fields for several years.

The new students are receiving three days of orientation this week before instruction begins on Thursday, Sept. 26. On Friday, Sept. 27, the students will be ceremoniously "cloaked" with their first white doctor's coats -- a time-honored tradition at UCSD's medical school that is now being adopted by the pharmacy school as well. The White Coat ceremony will be held at 4:30 p.m. in the Institute of the Americas Auditorium on the UCSD La Jolla campus. Speakers will include University of California President Richard Atkinson and UCSD Chancellor Robert Dynes.

Eventually, 60 students will enter the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences each year. The program is unique among U.S. pharmacy schools in that it will require second-year pharmacy students to take the same classes as first-year medical students at UCSD.

The UCSD School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences charter class

"It's designed to foster collaboration and mutual respect in the early stages of learning," said Anthony Manoguerra, Pharm.D., professor of clinical pharmacy and director of programs for the new school. "We think it will prepare our students for the future, when physicians and pharmacists will work more closely together to provide the best patient care."

For now, UCSD pharmacy students will use UCSD medical school classroom and lab facilities. By 2005, however, the University plans to build a four-story, 76,000-square-foot building on Osler Drive across from the Basic Science Building to house the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.

As the school grows, it will help to ease the nationwide shortage of pharmacists, Manoguerra said. It will also help meet future demands for more highly skilled pharmacists who will not only dispense prescription drugs, but also monitor patient health. Meanwhile, San Diego's biotech industry is rapidly evolving into a pharmaceutical industry clamoring for pharmaceutical scientists to discover, develop and monitor the efficacy of new drugs.

"Our graduates will be able to work in the pharmaceutical industry, hospitals, community pharmacies, research settings, or government labs," said Taylor. "With our teaching hospitals, computer capabilities, local partnership opportunities, and scientific excellence on campus, UCSD is well-positioned to supply the pharmacists of the future."

# # #

Media Contact:
Paula Detwiller

UCSD Health Sciences HealthBeat: