Innovation in Education Awards go to Shin, Jacobson, Ferrone

The inaugural presentation of the Dean’s Innovation in Education Awards took place during the School of Pharmacy faculty meeting at Mission Hall on the Mission Bay campus on January 6, 2015.

Honorees receiving the award’s engraved glass apple and $1,000 were Jaekyu Shin, PharmD, and Marcus Ferrone, PharmD, JD, faculty members in the Department of Clinical Pharmacy; and Matt Jacobson, PhD, faculty member in the Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry.

Recipients of the new annual award were selected by a committee of faculty peers for their work exemplifying the philosophy of continuous curricular transformation. The honor recognizes faculty members who have made innovative contributions to PharmD education, including:

  • developing and/or implementing new technologies or approaches for education or learning assessment
  • substantially revising or updating course content, delivery, and student assessment processes

The three honorees exhibited such innovations in teaching, technology, and course redesign, noted Dean B. Joseph Guglielmo, PharmD, in presenting the awards. (He also credited Pamela England, PhD, faculty member in the Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, for driving development of the awards.)

Shin, Jacobson, Ferrone

Recipients of the Dean’s Innovation in Education Award, left to right: Jaekyu Shin, PharmD; Matt Jacobson, PhD; Marcus Ferrone, PharmD, JD.

Shin: flipped classroom

Shin, for example, adopted a “flipped classroom” model in the second-year course, Clinical Pharmacy 121: Therapeutics, transforming the teaching method from one primarily based on lectures and didactic instruction to one in which students learn key content outside the classroom via pre-recorded lectures and then, in class, take part in question-and-answer sessions and case discussions emphasizing critical thinking and problem solving.

To implement the new approach, Shin introduced e-learning software to deliver online lectures and associated quizzes that are completed prior to class. In complementary fashion, he applied a team-based active-learning model, with students working together in groups on cases and questions during class.

“Status quo is not part of Jaekyu’s way of doing things educationally,” said Guglielmo. “He stands out as someone willing to take the chance, adopt a model, succeed fast or fail fast, and if the latter, then adapt accordingly.”

The awards selection committee observed, “Jaekyu’s efforts embody the spirit we want faculty to embrace, moving forward.”

Jacobson: student-led presentations

Jacobson was recognized for his transformation of the first-year course, Physical Chemistry 111: How Drugs Work. He revised content to teach the fundamentals of thermodynamics (a branch of physics) at a deep level, while still focusing from the start on drugs—ultimately basing every problem set question, class example, and exam problem on pharmaceuticals—which led him to add material on early-stage drug discovery, which is often concerned with thermodynamics.

Jacobson further innovated by introducing student-led presentations, in which groups of three students work together to read, analyze, and eventually present a scientific paper focused on physical principles of drugs. This self-directed learning exercise helps students understand the research that drives drug development, while also demystifying scientific literature and developing critical thinking and oral presentation skills.

Guglielmo praised Jacobson for "taking the importance of basic science and making it relevant to a health care setting—such as learning how the specifics of physical chemistry relate to the discovery of new drugs."

The awards committee noted, “Matt’s efforts provide both inspiration and a template for effectively incorporating basic science into the PharmD curriculum.”

Ferrone: drug-dispensing simulations

Ferrone identified and adapted an education technology—MyDispense software—that aids student learning in a new way. Now being applied in the first three years of the School’s PharmD curriculum, MyDispense provides an online simulation designed to help students develop and hone their competency in dispensing medicines and medical devices safely, accurately, and systematically. The program replicates a drug-dispensing decision-making environment without the reminders and prompts of commercial dispensing software, so students can safely learn by making mistakes. Educational exercises in MyDispense are developed to authentically reflect the tasks and challenges a community pharmacist regularly faces—thus, they may involve drug product selection, patient counseling, or the legal aspects of a prescription.

The software was initially designed for pharmacy students at Monash University in Australia, but Ferrone recognized its potential for the United States given that many incoming students lack significant pharmacy experience and first-year students can face market challenges to getting placed in pharmacies. He worked with Monash faculty and software developers to extensively adapt the program, creating a U.S.-specific edition that not only takes into account basic differences in pharmacy practices and legal standards, but also incorporates a domestic drug formulary and important clinical activities of American pharmacists such as immunizations and electronic prescribing.

“This has created a very viable alternative to the real-world setting for teaching students these critically important skills,” said Guglielmo.

The awards committee concluded, “Marcus’s efforts represent an important innovation that will impact both the current and future curriculum.”


School of Pharmacy, Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, Department of Clinical Pharmacy, PharmD Degree Program

About the School: The UCSF School of Pharmacy aims to solve the most pressing health care problems and strives to ensure that each patient receives the safest, most effective treatments. Our discoveries seed the development of novel therapies, and our researchers consistently lead the nation in NIH funding. The School’s doctor of pharmacy (PharmD) degree program, with its unique emphasis on scientific thinking, prepares students to be critical thinkers and leaders in their field.