University of California, Irvine announces a major investment to reshape 21st-century healthcare

UCI is establishing the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, the first public pharmacy school in the Los Angeles-Orange County region and a pillar of UCI’s expanding Susan & Henry Samueli College of Health Sciences. The new school – which was approved by the University of California Board of Regents on July 30, 2020 – will be California’s first new public pharmacy school in nearly two decades. It’s also one of the few such schools to be paired with an academic health center.

“We’re thrilled to launch the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences as the next step in UCI’s bold reimagining of healthcare, one that shifts the focus of patient care from treating ailments to preventing them,” said Chancellor Howard Gillman. “Infused with that spirit, the school will concentrate on the whole patient, spanning the continuum from drug discovery to clinical practice.”

The traditional image of a pharmacist as someone counting pills behind the counter of your local drugstore is outdated; the field has evolved. UCI’s new School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences addresses this shift and the growing demand for future pharmacists who can take a whole-patient approach to medicine. The school will uniquely focus on training future pharmacists to use evidence-based integrative health practices to better provide whole-patient care; and pharmacy students will study traditional drugs alongside research-backed nonconventional treatments, such as supplements, in order to provide the most comprehensive care possible.

“The School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences will be a driving force for advancing the health and wellness of individuals and society,” said Jan Hirsch, who is shepherding the school’s creation as founding dean. “We will educate pharmaceutical scientists and clinical pharmacists who will be integral to discovering and implementing new solutions to optimize medication usage, patient outcomes and cost-effective healthcare.”

The school will also provide a uniquely affordable, world-class education with research and clinical opportunities, which will be key as the pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing industry continues to see a noticeable rise in employment in this area. A key highlight of the affordable, world-class education is the bench-to-bedside opportunity. With both a Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences and a Department of Clinical Pharmacy Practice, the school will offer students experiences in the lab as well as the clinic.

Image of male researcher in lab
Male researcher in lab

The school is an outgrowth of UCI’s top 10-ranked Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, which has made UCI the No. 1 feeder to graduate pharmacy schools nationwide. A new Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) program will debut in the fall of 2021, training pharmacists to serve as medication experts on healthcare teams and problem-solvers who lead transformative change in the healthcare system. They’ll also learn to educate patients on complementary medications that promote health and wellness.

The school’s pharmaceutical sciences programs will continue to focus on drug discovery and research. In tandem, the pharmacy and research programs figure to improve patient outcomes, speed the delivery of treatments to the public and reduce healthcare spending.

“The school comes at a time when advances in pharmaceutical research, technology and computational tools are fueling the rapid discovery of new treatments, diagnostics and prevention strategies, empowering personalized care and population health,” said Dr. Steve Goldstein, vice chancellor for health affairs. “The School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences is a cornerstone for the Susan & Henry Samueli College of Health Sciences, a first-of-its-kind alliance of health disciplines that’s redefining research, education and patient care.”

It also promises to increase diversity in the profession by capitalizing on UCI’s national reputation for attracting first-generation, low-income and underrepresented students.

Formed in 2017 with a $200 million gift, the Susan & Henry Samueli College of Health Sciences includes the School of Medicine, the Sue and Bill Gross School of Nursing, a planned School of Population and Public Health (currently the Program in Public Health) and the Susan Samueli Integrative Health Institute.