URI launches new program in pharmaceutical engineering

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Unique program developed with help of $75,000 gift from FOUGERA

KINGSTON, R.I. – July 12, 2007 – Students interested in pursuing careers in the biopharmaceutical industry have a unique new educational option at the University of Rhode Island – one of the nation’s first undergraduate programs in pharmaceutical engineering.

“URI is one of the few universities in the country to offer both a pharmacy program and an engineering program, which has enabled us to create this new track within our chemical engineering major,” explained Arijit Bose, professor and chair of the URI Department of Chemical Engineering, who has spearheaded development of the program with Pharmacy Professor Clinton Chichester.

Bose noted that many chemical engineering students go to work for biopharmaceutical companies like Amgen and Pfizer after graduation, but they require additional training about sterile work environments, FDA regulations and other topics that are taught in the URI College of Pharmacy. Students enrolled in the pharmaceutical engineering track will now receive the necessary training as part of their undergraduate education.

Engineering students won’t be the only students to benefit from the new program, however.

“Demand is very high for the 100 openings in our pharmacy program each year, so now students interested in pharmacy will have another educational option at URI that will lead them to a career in the pharmaceutical industry,” Chichester said.

The program was approved by the URI Faculty Senate in April.

Freshmen may enroll in the pharmaceutical engineering program beginning this fall. They will follow the traditional chemical engineering curriculum but will also take three pharmacy courses as well as a new pharmaceutical engineering course that is now being developed.

The pharmaceutical engineering program is being launched with the support of a $75,000 gift from FOUGERA, a New York-based specialty pharmaceutical company whose chief executive officer, Paul McGarty, is a URI alumnus. McGarty requested that $50,000 of the gift be used to develop and implement cross-disciplinary courses in pharmaceutical engineering, and the remaining $25,000 will establish a scholarship fund to reward outstanding students pursuing the pharmaceutical engineering program.

“Our specialty is developing topical pharmaceutical preparations such as creams, ointments and gels, which requires an understanding of both pharmaceutical and engineering principles,” said McGarty. “We hope this new program will provide a unique opportunity for students interested in ours and other specialty pharmaceutical companies.”

FOUGERA was established in New York in 1849 and is now a leader in topical pharmaceutical development, with more than 600 employees in the United States. McGarty leads the company’s three divisions, which supply branded dermatologicals, topical generics, and hospital products.

The FOUGERA gift is part of the URI “Making a Difference” campaign, which seeks $100 million to recruit and retain outstanding faculty, enhance the student-centered campus experience, provide undergraduate scholarships and graduate fellowships, and fund cutting-edge academic and research initiatives.

“We appreciate the tremendous generosity and commitment of Paul McGarty and FOUGERA in helping us develop this program,” said Bose. “Their gift, and our proximity to a number of other biopharmaceutical companies in the region, will help us to grow and mature our program to benefit our students and the industry.”

Chichester and Bose said that the collaboration between the URI College of Pharmacy and the College of Engineering has also spawned discussions among faculty and administrators that will lead to additional research and education partnerships in the future.