The University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy celebrated the completion of a new education and research building on the campus of the University of Mississippi Medical Center with a dedication ceremony on Thursday, Feb. 23.
The new facility will provide the Oxford-based school a central home in Jackson.
Dr. Leigh Ann Ross, associate dean for clinical affairs in the School of Pharmacy, said the building will provide a sense of community for the school's faculty and students in Jackson.
"The most important thing is, it will bring us all together. It will increase our face-to-face interaction, and that is going to increase morale, both for students and faculty," Ross said.
Students in the School of Pharmacy spend three years of pre-pharmacy training and two years of professional training in Oxford before transitioning to Jackson for their third professional year. The new classroom and research building, which is the newest addition to the Medical Center, will be home for those students at UMMC as well at faculty and researchers with the Department of Pharmacy Practice.
Students spend their final professional year undergoing advanced practice training at clinical sites across the South. The school has been offering the Doctor of Pharmacy, or PharmD, since 1998.
The new building's cutting-edge amenities also promise to enhance learning and research, thanks to fully equipped research laboratories and unique classrooms outfitted with video-conferencing technology.
"This technology provides us the ability to be innovative in our educational offerings," Ross said.
Located on the northeast side of campus, the two-story, 29,692-square-foot building includes 17 classrooms, three research laboratories and a 173-seat auditorium. With a modern design that complements the look of most other facilities on campus, the building features expansive windows overlooking the Norman C. Nelson Student Union and the Guyton Research Building.
The basic science laboratories on the second floor support a second mission of the facility: research.
"Specifically, the laboratories are designed to handle between four to eight researchers and they provide an environment to perform a broad spectrum of translational research," said Dr. John Cleary, professor of pharmacy practice.
He said the laboratories will be geared toward investigating patient-care problems largely concerning pharmacotherapy and pharmacogenomics. Cleary, who has been performing collaborative research with the Department of Infectious Diseases for 25 years, said he and his pharmacy colleagues work in partnership with many other departments.
The new labs will provide space for researchers, both faculty and students, to expand their focus on medication therapy issues.
"It's critical that our students be good problem-solvers so they can contribute to that scientific basis for recommendations regarding medication therapy," Cleary said.
The building's classrooms, meanwhile, are tailored to the school's educational model of problem-based learning. The rooms fit small groups of students who use flat-screen monitors to study patient cases and map out what Ross terms learning issues.
She said the number of classrooms, and the building's advantages as a whole, will aid in the goal of boosting the school's class size to 115.
"The classrooms will help the overall experience, and that word will get out to students who are looking at pharmacy school," she said.