According to Dean Natalie D. Eddington, PhD, FAAPS, the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy leads pharmacy education, scientific discovery, patient care, and community engagement in the state of Maryland and beyond. Those words, the School's mission statement, opened and closed her annual State of the School Address to faculty and staff on Dec. 3 in the new Pharmacy Hall.
"With the launch of our new five-year strategic plan in March, I want to present this year's address in the context of several of its major initiatives," she said. "You will see that we are already making progress in achieving goals set forth by our ambitious plan."
Focused on the areas of education, research, practice, environment, and entrepreneurship, the 2010-2015 strategic plan was created with input from the Schoolýs faculty, staff, students, and alumni, and other stakeholders. It identifies a clear direction for growth for the School over the next five years.
In the area of education, the School is fostering student success through its innovative curriculum, superior practical experiences, and professional engagement. To that end, the School is working to continue to recruit the best and brightest students for its PharmD, PhD, and residency and fellowship programs.
Applications to the School's PharmD program in 2010 numbered 1,393, a 40 percent increase compared to a year ago. The School admits about 160 students to that program each year. Of those admitted to the Class of 2014, nearly 90 percent already had at least one college degree, compared with 74 percent for the previous first-year class.
The School's graduate programs in its Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences and its Department of Pharmaceutical Health Services Research enrolled eight and four new students, respectively, for the fall of 2010, bringing those programs' combined totals to more than 70 students.
The residency and fellowship training program continues to flourish in the School's Department of Pharmacy Practice and Science, Eddington reported. Residents and fellows can now choose among 14 specializations, including a new track in solid organ transplant. "The continued growth of the residency program is a strong indication of the leadership role the School is playing in educating pharmacists with expanded roles in health care," she said.
Eddington said the School's innovative distance-learning program started in 2007 with the Universities at Shady Grove continued to be a great success in 2010. The program provides the School's PharmD curriculum to 160 students based at the Shady Grove campus in Montgomery County through distance-learning technology. Semester-by-semester data of student academic performance showed that students are performing equally well on each campus. "We do not see any statistical difference at all in the performances of the students at the Shady Grove and Baltimore campuses, and we will graduate our first group of Shady Grove students in May 2011," said Eddington.
In the area of practice, Eddington reported that the School is establishing and expanding pharmacy practice models that are self-sustaining and nationally recognized. She highlighted the Maryland Patients, Pharmacists, Partnerships (P3) Program's win of a coveted Pinnacle Award from the American Pharmacists Association Foundation. The program, which has trained 170 pharmacists who coach employees to manage their diabetes or other chronic conditions, is a partnership of the School of Pharmacy, the Maryland General Assembly, the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and the Maryland Pharmacists Association.
Faculty in the Department of Pharmacy Practice and Science have also provided clinical care in nine ambulatory and 24 inpatient settings, delivered 17,700 hours of service reaching almost 35,000 patients, and received nearly $7 million in sponsored projects.
In research, the School is intensifying its nationally and internationally recognized programs in drug discovery and development, health services, practice-based and translational research. The Department of Pharmaceutical Health Services Research (PHSR) and the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences (PSC) were busy in 2010 attracting several major new research grants. C. Daniel Mullins, PhD, a professor in PHSR, brought in a three-year, $1.5 million grant from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute to study an innovative approach to designing and conducting randomized clinical trials for comparative effectiveness research. James Polli, PhD, a professor in PSC, began a unique study of the "switchability" of federally approved generic and brand anti-epileptic drugs, funded by a $1.1 million, two-year contract from the Food and Drug Administration. And Jia Bei Wang, PhD, a professor in PSC, received a five-year, $3.7 million grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse to develop a drug to treat cocaine addiction based on a molecule originally discovered in the extract of Chinese herbs.
PHSR faculty earned $3.4 million in research grants and contracts, and PSC earned $6.1 million. The School's total for research awards received in Fiscal Year 2010 was $16.4 million, a 31 percent increase since 2006. Funding from the National Institutes of Health jumped from $4.2 million in FY09 to $6.3 million in FY10.
During the address, Eddington announced plans for a new institute at the School. The Complex Biological Systems Institute, under the direction of C.S. Raman, PhD, an associate professor in PSC, will combine unusual animal models with comparative biochemistry and high-resolution molecular imaging to accelerate discoveries in biomedical research. Its goals are to extend a healthy life span, uncover the mechanisms by which animal cells die, and to focus on limb, organ, and tissue regeneration and the factors controlling the shape and size of cells, tissues, and organs.
As part of its healthy environment initiative, Eddington reported that the School is empowering students, staff, faculty, and alumni with formalized mentoring, continuing education and professional development, and leadership opportunities. The School's continuing education program for pharmacists had a 20 percent increase in the number of credits it issued over 2009, and it accredited 80 hours of continuing education programs in 2010, a 50 percent increase over the previous year. In 2010, the School also implemented a leadership development program for faculty that Eddington has already expanded to administrators and will be expanding to staff soon.
With outreach and community service a strong focus of the School of Pharmacy, the Maryland Poison Center continued to fill a strong need in the state. The center, based in the School's Department of Pharmacy Practice and Science, received almost 65,000 calls in FY10, with 37,000 of those involving human exposures, and half of those exposures occurring in children under the age of 6.
One of the major highlights of the year, according to Eddington, was the completion of the new Pharmacy Hall Addition, which opened in August for the start of the fall semester. "I commend everyone who was a part of bringing this beautiful new building to completion, and I see tangible signs every day of how it has already impacted our studentsý educational experience and provided a wonderful setting for all of us to connect as a School community." Grand Opening ceremonies for the building were held in October.