Dean Natalie D. Eddington, PhD, FAAPS, FCP, delivered her annual State of the School of Pharmacy Address on Nov. 9 to an auditorium packed with faculty, staff, students, preceptors, and University of Maryland officials.
"The foundation of what we do at the School is based on our mission to lead pharmacy education, scientific discovery, patient care, and community engagement in the state of Maryland and beyond," she said. "The annual State of the School of Pharmacy Address provides an introspective opportunity to examine our endeavors, opportunities, and challenges and to focus our journey as we go forward."
In the area of education, the School has 633 Doctor of Pharmacy students. Applications to the School's PharmD program in 2011 totaled 1,220, which is comparable to the number of applications the School has had over the past four years. The School admits about 160 students to that program each year. Of those admitted to the Class of 2015, nearly 90 percent entered with at least one college degree.
"This year was a milestone for us as we graduated our first group of 33 students from our program at the Universities at Shady Grove in May," Eddington said. "Our total number of graduating students was 144."
Of those 144 graduating students, 44 percent chose jobs in community pharmacies, and 29 percent chose pharmacy residencies. "We noted this year a significant decrease in the number of new positions for our pharmacy graduates in health-system and hospital pharmacies," Eddington said. "We had a career fair at the School recently, and the health system representatives indicated that the number of available positions will be more favorable in the future."
The School's graduate programs in its Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences (PSC) and its Department of Pharmaceutical Health Services Research (PHSR) enrolled a combined total of 65 students. PHSR enrolled seven new students for the fall of 2011, the largest group in recent years. Graduates of these programs go on to careers in academia, the pharmaceutical industry, and with the government.
The residency and fellowship training program continues to flourish in the School's Department of Pharmacy Practice and Science (PPS), Eddington reported. Residents and fellows can now choose among 14 specializations. "We have a great partnership with the University of Maryland Medical Center where they co-fund six of our residency positions," she said. "This allows us to expand and offer more positions."
In the area of practice, faculty in PPS provided clinical care in 33 ambulatory and 14 inpatient settings, delivered more than 65,000 hours of patient care, and received $6 million in sponsored projects. Other activities in the department focused on the continued development of the Center for Innovative Pharmacy Solutions, which hosted a National Leadership Roundtable in June focused on the pharmacistýs role in health care reform, and the implementation of a patient-centered medical home pilot project in conjunction with the Department of Family Medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.
"The patient-centered medical home pilot project is a wonderful collaboration with our partners in the School of Medicine that brings together physicians, nurses, pharmacists, and other health care professionals to coordinate medical care to patients," Eddington said. "In the pilot project, Katy Pincus, PharmD, an assistant professor of pharmacy practice and science, provides comprehensive medication management services to patients and also works on the approval process for billing of pharmacist-provided services, which has historically been a challenge for pharmacists. And our Department of Pharmaceutical Health Services Research, under the direction of assistant professor Gail Rattinger, PharmD, PhD, will be leading the evaluation of all 53 pilot sites in the state that are serving more than 300,000 patients."
In research, the School was the recipient of several large grants and contracts in FY11. In the PHSR, several faculty members are working on projects with the Office of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Administration (ADAA) in the state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Linda Simoni-Wastila, PhD, a professor in the department, is providing ADAA with epidemiological data for prevention planning, monitoring, and evaluation of programs to reduce the consumption and adverse consequences associated with alcohol, tobacco, and illicit drugs. Francoise Pradel, PhD, an associate professor, is evaluating community-based initiatives aimed at minimizing underage drinking, binge drinking, and alcohol-related crashes in the state's youth.
In the PSC, Bruce Yu, PhD, an associate professor with a joint appointment at the University of Maryland, College Park (UMCP), received a $2 million grant from the National Institute of Bioimaging and Biomedical Engineering to develop new dyes to enhance resolution and accuracy of probes for noninvasive imaging of disease diagnosis. Professor Steve Hoag, PhD, is the School's lead investigator on a $35 million award from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to the National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Technology (NIPTE) to improve the drug manufacturing process and enhance safety. NIPTE is a consortium of 10 universities across the country and the School of Pharmacy is one of its founding members, Eddington said.
The School, in collaboration with UMCP, has been designated as an FDA Center of Excellence in Regulatory Science and Innovation. This award will span a three year period with a focus on developing scientific exchanges with the FDA in order to improve preclinical assessments of safety and efficacy, ensure readiness to evaluate innovative and emerging technologies, and harness diverse data through information sciences to improve health outcomes.
PHSR faculty earned $4.7 million in research grants and contracts, and PSC earned $5.6 million. The School's total for research awards received in Fiscal Year 2011 was $16.6 million, with more than $5 million of that funding coming from the National Institutes of Health, a 40 percent increase from the previous fiscal year.
With outreach and community service a priority for the School of Pharmacy, its Maryland Poison Center continued to fill a strong need in the state. The center, based in PPS, received more than 65,000 calls in FY11, with 35,000 of those involving human exposures. "The Maryland Poison Center serves a vital role in our state and provides a great deal of public health service," Eddington said.
A highlight of the year was the Gold Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) designation from the U.S. Green Building Council for the new Pharmacy Hall. "Our new building is one of the few education and research-intensive Gold buildings located in an urban area," Eddington said. "It is proving to be an oasis at the University because of its light-filled atrium, large gathering spaces, and calming atmosphere. Our design, construction, and management teams were able to produce a space that reduces its footprint through its numerous environmentally friendly features."
The University of Maryland School of Pharmacy is the fourth oldest school of pharmacy in the United States and is consistently ranked in the top 10 by U.S. News & World Report.
In addition to cutting-edge research in drug delivery mechanisms, cost impact studies, basic drug discovery and development, and disease management, the School engages in a wide variety of professional practice activities, partnering with over 200 community pharmacies, hospitals, nursing homes, and more than agencies to provide services to citizens and practitioners around the state and across the nation.