Pharmacy school to foster more entrepreneurial spirit

Leaders of the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy plan to retool some of the program's curriculum beginning this fall to spur more innovation, critical thinking and entrepreneurial spirit among students.

The effort at producing more "pharmapreneurs" will involve new classes but will also provide access to entrepreneurs who used their science degree to tackle real world healthcare, social or technological problems.

Students could form new for-profit ventures or nonprofit efforts aimed at, for example, improving drug delivery or efficiency, tackling drug access issues around the globe or launching new companies based on their own research.

Like other schools around the country, the pharmacy school already offers dual degrees in law, medicine and business. Dual pharmacy-master of business administration degrees will be available this fall in partnership with the University of Baltimore or the University of Maryland, College Park, but historically only a small percentage of pharmacy students enroll in such a program each year. Some students don't view themselves as business types, officials said.

Dean Natalie D. Eddington said the pharmapreneur program would enable more students to gain understanding and experience that could expand their options beyond working in or running a pharmacy, though many will choose the traditional path.

Eddington said the school plans to fund a scholarship and a pharmaprenuer in residence, who this year will be Amita Shukla, founder and CEO of Vitamita LLC and holder of 10 patents. Eventually, the school plans to offer a pharmapreneur certificate in partnership with the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business.

"We really want graduates to have an impact on something, on some new technology they've developed or idea they've had," Eddington said. "We want students to have a broad impact on society."

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