University of California-Irvine has a vision for what the future of healthcare will look like, at least on its campus—an interdisciplinary approach to care and research comprised of four disciplines within its college of health sciences.
With that in mind, the university appointed Jan Hirsch founding dean and director of its planned School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, effective this month.
Hirsch will oversee the effort to build the pharmacy school, which UCI expects to be approved within the next two to three years.
It will join three other related schools at UCI’s Susan and Henry Samueli College of Health Sciences: the School of Medicine, the Sue & Bill Gross School of Nursing and the planned School of Population Health.
A focus for Hirsch will be bridging academics, research and clinical practice with the private sectors to foster drug discovery, as well as provide pharmacy strategy and research to pharmaceutical companies.
“We are going to be adding clinical faculty to the school and outside partnerships will be important,” she told the Business Journal.
Hirsch arrived from the University of California-San Diego, where she played another founding role, serving as the first chair of the division of clinical pharmacy at the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, which began in 2002.
“The role of a pharmacist has changed tremendously over the last 10 years, moving from dispenser of products to providing consultation, [and] getting involved in medication management,” Hirsch said.
Pharmacists now get involved before medication is dispensed. They help patients manage regiments such as dietary supplements and nonprescription medications, in addition to prescribing medicines, she said.
UCI currently offers a pharmaceutical science program for undergraduates and graduate students.
Hirsch hopes to build on what she started at UCSD, which she credits as having a “very strong biomedical foundation.”
While there, she led initiatives to develop new academic programs and expand pharmaceutical research. She also served as academic director of a new master’s degree program in drug development and product management, and launched a clinical faculty practice business unit that provides both clinical pharmacy services to community clients.
Hirsch said because of a shortage of primary care physicians, pharmacists now have the opportunity to work more closely with patients to monitor disease and help manage drug complications.
“It’s a very much expanded outlook for pharmacists now, which is really exciting,” she said.
UCI will have four schools within its health sciences college, whereas UCSD currently has two.
Hirsch said that larger focus was part of the reason that lured her to UCI.
“Now we can really build here an interprofessional approach, not just clinical practice, but also education and research,” she said.
UCI received a $200 million gift from the Samueli family in 2017 to create the college.
The donation, the seventh largest to a single public university, is being used to build “a first-of-its-kind College of Health Sciences focused on interdisciplinary integrative health” that incorporates “integrative health research, teaching and patient care across its schools and programs,” according to the school.
Integrative health uses medication and surgery to manage illness, opts for less invasive therapies like lifestyle and dietary changes, as well as health practices such as herbal supplements, chiropractic, acupuncture and yoga.
Henry Samueli is a co-founder of semiconductor chipmaker Broadcom, which was acquired by San Jose-based Avago Technologies Inc. (Nasdaq: AVGO) for $37 billion in 2016. He now serves as chief technology officer for the company. His wife, Susan, is a champion and practitioner of integrative health.
The Samueli gift provides $55 million toward construction of the college and labs, as well as $145 million to create an endowment for the four schools, including funds for up to 15 faculty chairs.
Nursing was elevated from a program to a stand-alone school at UCI thanks to a $40 million gift from William & Sue Gross Family Foundation two years ago.
The planned school of population health, meanwhile, last year began a national search for its founding dean, who has not yet been announced.
A year ago, the university announced the resignation of Howard Federoff, former vice chancellor for health affairs and chief executive of the UCI Health System—the teaching hospital for UCI’s School of Medicine.
He has retained his faculty position and continues his neurobiological research.
Federoff’s prior roles at the school of medicine was split into two positions.
Richard Gannotta, who was chief operating officer for UCI Health, was named chief executive of UCI Health System in June.
Alan Goldin, previously associate vice chancellor for academic affairs, is interim vice chancellor for health affairs. He oversees the College of Health Sciences.
Once UCI has its pharmacy school operating, it will join two others in Orange County.
Marshall B. Ketchum University, a private university in Fullerton, has a College of Pharmacy.
Chapman University in Orange houses the School of Pharmacy and Crean College of Behavioral Sciences at its Harry and Diane Rinker Health Sciences campus in Irvine.
The Spectrum-area Rinker campus includes programs on physical therapy and communication sciences.