KINGSTON, R.I. – May 20, 2010 – The associate dean of the University of Rhode Island’s College of Pharmacy has been named a Congressional Fellow for his expertise on managing health care costs, optimizing pharmaceutical effectiveness and epidemiology.
E. Paul Larrat, also a URI professor of pharmacoepidemiology, will serve in Washington from September 2010 to August 2011. From a nationwide competition, the East Greenwich resident was sponsored for the program by the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy and one of 30 chosen for the program by the American Academy for the Advancement of Science.
Larrat said he could be assigned to a Senate committee that deals with health care, a senator who is involved in the issue or a senator’s policy staff.
The fellowship adds to Larrat’s diverse experiences in his roles at the College of Pharmacy. Five years ago, he worked with a team of scientists in the laboratories of the Kennedy Space Center to research the types of plants that could be raised safely on a spacecraft traveling to Mars.
He has also been a regular visitor to the Rhode Island Department of Corrections where he oversees a prescription management program that has saved the agency $12 million in drug costs over seven years.
Larrat recently returned from a trip to Saudi Arabia where he presented at the Saudi International Pharmaceutical Conference. He was one of eight presenters from the United States.
The upcoming fellowship will be another great learning experience, he said.
“I want to see how the government works, because we hear all the time that it is broken,” Larrat said. “I will be learning about health care policy, health care reform. Being involved in the implementation of a new program will be extraordinary. I hope I get a chance to have a small role in making the plan better.”
He said health care makes up 20 percent of the national economy. “We spend almost double what other developed countries do and we are ranked 30th in terms of the quality of our health care system.”
Larrat said he’d be on the lookout for research opportunities for faculty and students.
His work begins with a two-week orientation, which will give him overviews of the legislative, executive and judicial branches. He said working for the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions would be a natural. He said he would enjoy serving the Senate Finance Committee because it created the health care reform package.
“My expertise is pharmacy benefit management, which I have done for the state corrections system, private companies and other agencies, as well as working on health policy issues at the state level,” Larrat said. “My goal is to bring new knowledge back home to benefit the University and the state as a whole.”
He started preparing for his stint in Washington when he met in March with Kate Moran, associate dean of URI’s Graduate School of Oceanography, who is entering the second year of a two-year term as a senior policy analyst for President Barack Obama on issues related to oceans, the Arctic and climate change.
“She told me all her Washington stories,” Larrat said. “She loves working there. I know I have a lifeline if I need her.”
E. Paul Larrat
URI Department of Communications & Marketing photo by Michael Salerno Photography.