Pharmacy school awarded $30 million gift

    The only pharmacy school in Southern California, UCSD School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, received a $30 million gift from the Skaggs Institute for Research. The donation, announced on Nov. 4, is the largest ever to the campus division of health sciences and also one of the largest in the university’s history.

    In recognition of the gift, the pharmacy school will be named after L.S. “Sam” Skaggs, who is nationally recognized as a pioneer in the retail drug store industry. Skaggs established the Skaggs Institute for Research mainly to support medical research at the Scripps Research Institute.

    “In the years to come, this name will be synonymous with state-of-the-art education of pharmacists and pharmaceutical scientists, and also with research breakthroughs in fields like pharmacogenetics and bioinformatics,” Chancellor Marye Anne Fox said during the announcement of the gift.

    The Skaggs contribution will provide $10 million in start-up costs along with a $20 million endowment to the school over a period of five years.

    The school, which currently enrolls 80 students, has developed a program that emphasizes bioinformatics, computational drug design and drug therapies tailored according to the unique genetic profiles of patients.

    “Our vision for the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences has been to establish a program on par with the very best in the country, with an emphasis on pharmacy practice of the future,” said Edward W. Holmes, vice chancellor for health sciences and dean of the School of Medicine.

    The Skaggs School is one of only two public pharmacy schools in the state. The other is located at UC San Francisco.

    Fox placed emphasis on the advantages of the school’s location in San Diego.

    “The impetus for our new school of pharmacy at UCSD came largely from the San Diego community,” Fox said. “Our partners in the regional biotech industry believe that UCSD was uniquely situated to launch a new kind of pharmacy school, one that would focus on the 21st century.”

    Claudia Skaggs Luttrel, president of the Skaggs Institute and Skaggs’ daughter, said that supporting the pharmacy school was natural for her family, which is dedicated to the future of medicine and its impact on health care patients.

    “The commitment of Sam Skaggs to the business of pharmacy has always been more fundamental than the distribution of pharmaceutical and health care needs,” Luttrel said. “My father has [been], and always will be, committed to patient-oriented care.”

    A charter class of 25 students entered the pharmacy school in September 2002. By 2008, when it is scheduled to reach full capacity, the school will have 240 Pharm.D. students, 60 Ph.D. students and 30 residents.

    “I knew that I needed an education that would prepare me for community pharmacy [and] clinical pharmacy, as well as research,” said Lisa Mueller, a charter class student who also spoke at the gift announcement. “With the endless supply of experts in all of these areas, I found UCSD more than capable of preparing me for each of these career options.”

    After announcing the gift from the Skaggs Institute, administrators, supporters and medical students signed their names on the last steel beam that will complete the 104,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility for the new school.

    The Skaggs gift contributes to the $1 billion fundraising goal for the “Imagine What’s Next” capital campaign of the university. The campaign, scheduled to conclude in June 2007, has raised $656 million to date.

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