Founding dean of planned UCI pharmacy school comes aboard in January


UC Irvine will bring on researcher and pharmacist Jan Hirsch to oversee the planning of a new pharmacy school.

Hirsch will join UCI in January as founding dean of the planned School of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences, one of the academic foundations of the Susan and Henry Samueli College of Health Sciences.

Upon starting work, Hirsch will begin the approval and accreditation processes for the new school, which is expected to open in fall 2021. It must first receive final review and approval from the UC Board of Regents.

“Dr. Hirsch will be key in realizing our vision for the planned [school] as a place where pioneering research and clinical practice ... improve human health,” said Enrique Lavernia, UCI provost and executive vice chancellor.

UCI already has a strong pharmaceutical science program, Hirsch said. To create the school, the university will add clinical faculty to the pharmacy faculty already there.

“There must be practicing clinical pharmacists — they provide the education that’s more pharmacy-based,” Hirsch said. “That’s the missing piece right now.”

Currently, UCI’s pharmaceutical research is more about the discovery of drugs, Hirsch said. The new school will refocus it on the clinical application of drugs.

Hirsch currently is first chair of the clinical pharmacy division of UC San Diego’s Skaggs School of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences, where she has led multiple initiatives to develop new academic programs and expand pharmaceutical research.

She also has started research departments for three major pharmaceutical companies.

“The [pharmacy school] is like a new department, and that’s what I’ve worked to establish in the private sector with the three different companies,” Hirsch said. “I think I have the insight and will be able to reach out to the community to foster those partnerships.”

Hirsch recently was an academic director of a new master’s degree program in drug development and product management at UCSD, and her research has been recognized by state and federal agencies, professional pharmacy organizations and the interdisciplinary National Academies of Practice.

“Dr. Hirsch’s distinguished history of academic experience, scientific expertise and proven leadership makes her the perfect choice to lead our pharmacy and pharmaceutical sciences faculty and staff through the successful launch of a full-fledged school,” said UCI Chancellor Howard Gillman.

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