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A new era for science and practice at UCSF
By Levi Gadye / Tue Oct 25, 2022
This fall, the UCSF School of Pharmacy welcomed over a dozen new faces to its leadership group, including esteemed faculty drawn from its three academic departments. The move is the first executive action of Dean Kathy Giacomini, PhD, BSPharm, toward maximizing the institution’s potential as a world leader in research, patient care, and education.
“The School’s scientists, clinicians, and graduates have a formidable track record, but there is untapped potential to make an even greater impact from drug discovery to regulation and patient care,” said Giacomini, who became dean on July 1. “To realize this potential, we need an executive team of the highest caliber, and I am grateful to see my colleagues step up to contribute to this vital cause.”
Giacomini has created new roles that will expand opportunities for PharmD students; forge and strengthen bonds between the School, UCSF, and outside partners; actively address diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI); and nurture an engaged community of faculty and staff.
Driving strategic priorities
Executive Vice Dean
Sharon L. Youmans, PharmD, MPH, will step into the role of executive vice dean and partner with Giacomini to drive the School’s strategic priorities. She will lead and oversee the School’s efforts with DEI; manage its global partnerships; liaise with the School’s Pharmacy Practice Partnerships associate deans; serve as an advisor to the faculty leaders of the PharmD program; and carry out special projects.
“I’m thrilled and honored to be a part of this new chapter for the School of Pharmacy,” said Youmans. “I’m especially excited to work closely on these initiatives with our talented and accomplished faculty, staff, students, and trainees, and our campus and global partners.”
Bringing the pharmacist’s expertise to all corners of biomedicine
Giacomini studied pharmacy as an undergraduate, an experience that influenced her scientific career as a pioneer of pharmacogenomics, a field of research that studies how genes affect an individual’s response to medication. She says that the opportunity to tailor treatments to the individual has never been greater—yet a gap remains.
“We need providers who can translate pharmacogenomics and computational biology into real-world improvements in health care,” said Giacomini. “Here at UCSF, we have the resources to train our PharmDs in the hard sciences, enabling them to bring that unique expertise to biotech companies, government, insurance, you name it.”
Co-Vice Deans of Graduate Pharmacy Education Programs
Rada Savic, PhD, and Brian Shoichet, PhD, appointed co-vice deans of graduate pharmacy education programs, will bridge this gap by formalizing scientific training for recent PharmD graduates via new master’s degree programs. Savic is a faculty member in the Department of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences and Shoichet is a faculty member in the Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry.
Co-Vice Deans of PharmD Education
The PharmD program itself will be a key partner in these student-oriented initiatives. Igor Mitrovic, MD, and Conan MacDougall, PharmD, MAS, are now co-vice deans of PharmD education, and will directly manage the delivery of the pharmacy curriculum. Mitrovic is a faculty member in the School of Medicine’s Department of Physiology and MacDougall is a faculty member in the Department of Clinical Pharmacy.
Associate Dean of Fellowships
Leslie Floren, PharmD, MA, is now associate dean of fellowships. Floren is a faculty member in the Department of Clinical Pharmacy.
Mitrovic, MacDougall, Floren, and Youmans will work with Savic and Shoichet to ensure that the PharmD program meshes seamlessly with an expanding array of scientific opportunities for pharmacy students.
“The next generation of pharmacists can make a difference in so many more lives, with the power of science, data, and computation to back their decisions,” said Savic, whose research on novel treatments for tuberculosis led to changes in World Health Organization treatment guidelines last year. “More of our graduates should be at the table across health care—and we will make sure they are prepared.”
Enhancing the School’s partnerships
As a health-focused graduate university, UCSF has long catalyzed collaborations across disciplines, institutions, and the public and private sectors, and Giacomini intends to carry this record to new heights.
“We are lucky to be in the San Francisco Bay Area, home of the most innovative universities, hospitals, and companies,” said Giacomini. "The world knows to come to us, but we need to be ready to make the most of our talent and drive with new and transformative partnerships.”
Vice Dean of Clinical Affairs
Desi Kotis, PharmD, who is the clinical pharmacy executive for UCSF Health, will serve as vice dean of clinical affairs for Giacomini. She will reinforce connections between the PharmD program, the Department of Clinical Pharmacy, and pharmacist appointments across UCSF’s health enterprise, including residencies.
Co-Vice Deans of Clinical Innovation and Entrepreneurship
Jennifer Cocohoba, PharmD, MAS, and Katherine Yang, PharmD, both faculty members in the Department of Clinical Pharmacy, were appointed co-vice deans of clinical innovation and entrepreneurship. They will explore new models for pharmacy practice services and partnerships with UCSF Health and external stakeholders in community pharmacy, public health, and other pharmacy schools.
Vice Dean of Entrepreneurship and Industry Relations
Adam Renslo, PhD, is now vice dean of entrepreneurship and industry relations. As a medicinal chemist and faculty member in the Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, Renslo will lead new efforts to shepherd the School’s discoveries toward treatments that reach patients.
Vice Dean of Research
James Fraser, PhD, faculty member in the Department of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences, was named vice dean of research for the School, and is charged with promoting scientific collaborations between the School, its neighboring UCSF schools, and beyond. He will also work with Renslo to relay the School’s discoveries to translational partners in academia and industry.
Walking the walk with diversity, equity, and inclusion
In just the last two years, a range of new efforts to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) have emerged as top priorities of both UCSF and the School. Within the School, these efforts have included the launching of a health equity internship program for PharmD students and an equity and inclusion speaker series for the School community.
Co-Vice Deans of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
To accelerate School-wide projects in this arena, Ryan Hernandez, PhD, and Stephanie Hsia, PharmD, MEd, were appointed co-vice deans of DEI. Hernandez is a faculty member in the Department of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences and Hsia is a faculty member in the Department of Clinical Pharmacy.
“I’ve supported students, faculty, and staff of all identities as a principal investigator and department chair, but to make good on DEI for the entire School, it’s all hands on deck,” said Giacomini. “I’m excited to see how Sharon [Youmans], Ryan, and Stephanie crystallize the School’s enthusiasm for DEI into tangible results for our underrepresented communities.”
Youmans, who presided over the School’s DEI efforts as vice dean, will advise Hsia and Hernandez as they develop and implement new DEI-oriented initiatives.
Hsia and Hernandez have each already made great strides in building opportunities for students in their fields. Hsia pioneered a 10-week-long health equity curriculum block in the PharmD program and went on to mentor students in the health equity internship program.
Hernandez co-founded the UCSF Post-baccalaureate Research Opportunity to Promote Equity in Learning (PROPEL), which prepares UCSF research technicians to begin careers as academic scientists. He also recently received funding to create an NIH Post-baccalaureate Research Education Program (PREP) at UCSF.
Hernandez’s and Hsia’s experience getting such programs off the ground will be critical for their roles as stewards of DEI for the School, and they intend to include the entire community in their new initiatives.
“We aim to help our students, faculty, and staff become leaders who embody the values of diversity, equity, inclusion, and antiracism,” said Hsia. “So many in our community are ready for change, and with the backing of Kathy and Sharon, we’re ready to act.”
Building community and support for faculty and staff
Lastly, Giacomini is prioritizing faculty and staff engagement, ensuring that all individuals delivering on the School’s mission are given the opportunity to grow and thrive.
Vice Dean and Chief of Staff, Vice Dean of Administration and Finance
Lawrence Lin, PhD, is now vice dean and chief of staff, and Alesia Woods is now vice dean of administration and finance. Lin and Woods work closely with Giacomini to enact her strategic vision and manage the Dean’s Office. Their priorities include staff well-being, recognition for excellence and service, recruitment and retention, and professional development.
Vice Dean of Academic Affairs
Robin Corelli, PharmD, is now vice dean of academic affairs. As a faculty member in the Department of Clinical Pharmacy and a long-time educator in the PharmD program, she is well-suited for managing the School’s promotion, advancement, and merit processes for faculty. She will also engage the many preceptors and volunteer faculty who mentor UCSF pharmacy students from sites around the state.
Director of Faculty Engagement and Awards
Francis Szoka, PhD, was appointed director of faculty engagement and awards. A recently retired faculty member from the Department of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences, Szoka will develop new avenues for incentivizing faculty success and retention.
School of Pharmacy, Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, Department of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences, Department of Clinical Pharmacy, PharmD Degree Program, BMI, QBC, CCB, PSPG, Bioinformatics, Biophysics
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.