Pharmacy school celebrates opening

    The new UCSD School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences officially welcomed its inaugural class on Sept. 27 with a special “”white coat”” ceremony at the Institute of the Americas auditorium.

    Lyon Liew

    At the ceremony, the new students were lauded by speakers, who included UC President Richard Atkinson and UCSD Chancellor Robert Dynes.

    The inaugural class took the Oath of a Pharmacist and was the first class to be cloaked with white, waist-length coats in what will become a tradition at the new school. The ceremony was adopted from a similar ceremony performed at the UCSD medical school.

    Atkinson said the addition of the new school of pharmacy at the San Diego campus was an appropriate move, noting the lack of a pharmacy school in the San Diego area, the high rate of biotech industries in the region and the short supply of qualified pharmacy technicians.

    “”It’s clear California needs a new school of pharmacy,”” Atkinson told the audience of students, professors and other attendees.

    Students were praised by Chancellor Robert Dynes for being the pioneering class at the new school, which is only the second public school of pharmacy in the state of California.

    Dynes said afterward that because the future of health care is a partnership between physicians and pharmacists, having the school of pharmacy be a sister school to the school of medicine is ideal.

    “”If you look at the nature of medicine in the 21st century, the pharmaceutical plan is going to have to be in collaboration with the medical sciences,”” he said.

    Dynes also believes that the new school will help fuel the growth of San Diego’s pharmaceutical industry.

    “”The school of pharmacy will act like an engine, just like the school of engineering has acted like an engine for many of the other companies,”” he said.

    Mary Anne Koda-Kimble, dean of the top-rated UCSF School of Pharmacy, welcomed the new students as colleagues and wished them success.

    UCSD’s campus has played host to pharmacy students since 1975, when UCSF’s School of Pharmacy began sending fourth-year students to San campus for clinical training. The program will continue, with the fourth-year UCSF students acting as mentors to the first-year UCSD students.

    The new school of pharmacy offers a four-year program to receive a doctor of pharmacy degree. The school is also developing a seven-year B.S. in chemistry and doctor of pharmacy program, as well as a joint Ph.D./doctor of pharmacy program. Both programs are anticipated to start, at the earliest, in the fall of 2005.

    Palmer Taylor, who served as chair of the department of pharmacology, was selected to serve as founding dean of the new UCSD School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences this past week. He believes that starting the school anew allows it to anticipate upcoming changes in the field of pharmacy.

    “”I think we have an advantage over other schools in that there’s no legacy in the curriculum or faculty, so what we can do is develop a curriculum about what we think that 21st century community pharmacy will be,”” he said.

    Outside of developing a curriculum, the school will need to develop a faculty and build a facility.

    “”I think the biggest challenge will be developing a first-rate faculty, developing facilities for the education purpose that can match the goal of the school,”” Taylor said.

    Tentative plans to build a school of pharmacy building on the medical school campus are set for 2005.

    The 25 students of the class of 2006 were selected from a pool of 480 applicants. The students hold degrees from various institutions, including UC Berkeley, UCLA, California State University Northridge and California State University Domingez Hills among others. Six students are UCSD alumni.

    Joseph Ennesser, a first-year at the new school, chose UCSD because of the opportunity and the small class size.

    “”It’s very exciting,”” he said. “”And I think a unique opportunity because being a brand-new school, there’s no set curriculum.””

    Ennesser also looks forward to the courses, which are designed to anticipate the skills pharmacists will need in the future.

    “”A lot of our courses are designed based on the future of pharmacy, the way things are changing,”” he said.

    Susan Yee, who graduated from UCSD in 2001, decided to come back to her alma mater for graduate studies at the new school.

    “”It’s a very exciting place to be and an exciting place to start a pharmacy school,”” she said.

    Yee chose UCSD for graduate study because of the chance to be a part of the new school.

    “”We will get to set the foundation for the classes to come,”” she said. “”There are just many, many opportunities and that just comes with being the first class.””

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