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New UC San Diego Master’s Degree Will Train Professionals for Drug Development Careers

The new Master of Science in Drug Development and Product Management program at Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at UC San Diego is led by Williams Ettouati, PharmD (shown here), and Jan D. Hirsch, PhD.


  • Heather Buschman, PhD

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  • Heather Buschman, PhD

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The Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at University of California San Diego now offers a Master of Science in Drug Development and Product Management. This is the pharmacy school’s first master’s degree program. The program is intended for experienced professionals to gain managerial and regulatory knowledge required to lead all aspects of the drug development process, from discovery to clinical application in managed markets.

The program is now accepting applications at The deadline is March 14, 2018. The first class of 24 students will enter the program in Fall 2018.

“We are committed to training our students to fill unmet needs in the biotechnology, pharmaceutical and managed care industries and to excel in careers that didn’t exist just five or 10 years ago,” said James McKerrow, MD, PhD, dean of the Skaggs School of Pharmacy.

The master’s degree is intended for individuals who already have a background in pharmacy, nursing, medicine or other related biomedical field, but need specialized drug development and product management skills for career opportunities and advancement in pharmaceutical and managed care industries or in related government agencies, such as the US Food and Drug Administration or the European Medicines Agency.

“The workforce needs of the pharmaceutical and biotech industry across California are significant and require that we train the best and brightest,” said Joe Panetta, CEO of Biocom, a life science trade association representing more than 700 companies in Southern California and beyond. "Based on a comprehensive workforce survey Biocom published in 2016, and thoughtful feedback from our member companies, we believe UC San Diego's Master of Science in Drug Development and Product Management will fill a critical state-wide need."

The Master of Science in Drug Development and Product Management program is led by Williams Ettouati, PharmD, director of industrial relations and development, and Jan D. Hirsch, PhD, professor and chair of the division of clinical pharmacy at Skaggs School of Pharmacy.

“Few schools of pharmacy or medicine have programs quite like this one,” Ettouati said. “Our program draws upon strengths across our campus, as well as the San Diego biotech and pharmaceutical research cluster, to create a multi-disciplinary, team-based training program that could not be replicated by a student simply enrolling in a miscellany of existing classes.”

Distinctive features of the program include instruction by a combination of faculty with scholarly understanding and industry experience, a case- and project-oriented approach to learning, options in professional focus and networking with student colleagues with varied professional backgrounds. Each student will also complete an internship in a biotech, pharmaceutical or managed care company. Students in the program will benefit from drug discovery and development resources and expertise available across the UC San Diego campus, including in the Altman Clinical and Translational Research Institute, Center for Drug Discovery Innovation and Center for Translational Computer-Aided Drug Discovery and Project Management.

“With the current course curriculum, students should be in a solid position to better understand small molecule and biotherapeutic product development in the pharmaceutical R&D setting, as well as market access issues faced post-marketing,” Hirsch said. “Our students will be exposed to critical concepts and requirements that go deep into the drug development process, from the initial new drug (IND) application, through the New Drug Application (NDA) and on to marketing and reimbursement applications to payers. Courses will cover regulatory affairs, clinical development, product management, pharmacoeconomics and commercialization.”

The Skaggs School of Pharmacy was established in July 2000 and the first class matriculated in the fall of 2002. The school currently offers PharmD, PhD, PharmD/PhD, and BS/PharmD degree programs. The steady-state enrollment is 240 PharmD students, 60 PhD students and 30 pharmacy residents.

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