Angela Kashuba took over her duties as dean of the top-ranked Eshelman School of Pharmacy on Oct. 1. While she is new to the dean’s office, the HIV/AIDS researcher has been a member of the Carolina faculty since 1997. She was named the John and Deborah McNeill Jr. Distinguished Professor in 2013 and served as chair of the Division of Pharmacotherapy and Experimental Therapeutics from 2015 to 2019. She is director of the UNC Center for AIDS Research Clinical Pharmacology and Analytical Chemistry Core.
Q: What is your vision for the Eshelman School of Pharmacy?
A: I want to build upon what we’ve developed here, which is really special. At the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy, everything we do is focused on helping people live longer, healthier lives. And we do that by challenging the status quo. We innovate on how we teach our students, how we practice pharmacy and how we approach pharmaceutical sciences research. I want to continue to develop innovators and leaders in practice, education and research.
Q: What are your short-term goals as you take over as dean?
A: My first priority is our people. I want to ensure that everyone who walks, or has walked, through our halls feels valued and connected. I’d like to continue to invest in mentoring, leadership development, and resilience and wellness initiatives. I would also like to reconnect with our amazing alumni and expand opportunities to engage them with our students, our faculty, and in our training programs.
My second short-term goal is to continue to build our culture of innovation by assembling a diverse and inclusive community of students, faculty and staff that reflects the communities we serve. We will expand our partnerships, such as the joint MD/PhD program we are developing with Meharry Medical College, with other HBCUs and to ensure their students have access to the PharmD, doctorate and post-doc programs we have at the school.
Third, as Operational Excellence is being implemented across campus, we need to ensure we are modeling best practices. Optimizing our data platforms will allow us to visualize school metrics and activities in real-time and use those data to inform decision making. We also need to ensure that our operations team is right-sized for their workload, and that they have the tools they need to optimize efficiencies.
Q: What are your longer-term plans?
A: I love this school, this campus and this state. I am fully committed to making our expertise available to the state of North Carolina. One way we can do this is through digital learning platforms. Most of our citizenry cannot come to us. But we have the tools and technologies now to go to them. I envision online continuing education programs to support our alumni in their quest for lifelong learning, and providing certificate and degree-granting programs for the people of North Carolina and beyond. We will also focus on the pharmacist’s role in digital health initiatives and further partner with our Area Health Education Centers in education, practice and research activities.
Another goal is to make our innovation more impactful through partnerships. There is no question that we are a school of innovators. Partnering with others on and off campus will create exceptional synergies that will lead to significant impact. For example, we are partnering with campus on its neuroscience and data science initiatives, and we have additional opportunities in interdisciplinary education. We also have tremendous opportunities for partnering on education, practice and scholarship activities with our scientific organizations, payers and the pharmaceutical industry.
Finally, to support Carolina’s mission as a leading global research institution, we will expand our Global Scholars Program to ensure that all our students who want to participate in a global experience have the opportunity to do so. We will renew PharmAlliance, a commitment to international education, practice and scholarship collaborations, in partnership with University College London and Monash University in Australia. We also look forward to working more closely with Ambassador Barbara Stephenson’s office and Dr. Myron Cohen’s Institute for Global Health and Infectious Diseases.
Q: In addition to being dean, you are also a very busy HIV/AIDS researcher. Tell us about your research.
A: I have an amazing 20-person lab working in preclinical and clinical pharmacology for HIV. We work to optimize HIV treatment, prevention and now cure by applying pharmacologic principles of drug pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics to cell and animal models and conducting clinical trials. My lab also runs a Pharmacology Core for the UNC Center for AIDS Research, where we assist other researchers at UNC, nationally and globally.
Q: As dean, do you plan to continue working in your lab?
A: Yes! My laboratory still has work to do; there are a lot of questions that we still want to answer. We work globally with up to 80 investigators a year, assisting them with everything from generating preliminary data for grants, all the way through to data analysis for publications. I highly value these collaborations and the contributions we make to the HIV field, and I don’t want that to go away. While I may be spending less time with my lab, I have a terrific group of investigators that will continue to make the lab wildly successful.