O’Donnell named dean of UB School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences

Release Date: July 2, 2013

“Dr. O’Donnell’s reputation precedes him. He is well known not only as a leader in the pharmacology field, but also as a pivotal figure in the health sciences world. ”
Charles F. Zukosiki, Provost and executive vice president for academic affairs
University at Buffalo
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James O'Donnell

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BUFFALO, N.Y.  — James M. O’Donnell, associate dean for research in the School of Medicine and assistant vice president for research in the Health Sciences Center at West Virginia University, has been named dean of the University at Buffalo School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.

The appointment, which followed an international search, was announced today by Provost Charles F. Zukoski and Michael E. Cain, vice president for health sciences. O’Donnell is expected to assume the position by Nov. 1.

As dean, O’Donnell will be responsible for providing overall leadership to the UB pharmacy school, promoting academic excellence and advancing its national and international prominence in research. He will serve as a member of UB’s senior leadership team, working collaboratively with the president, provost, vice president for health sciences, cabinet members and other deans to advance the university’s UB 2020 strategic vision.

“Dr. O’Donnell is an outstanding choice to lead our nationally ranked pharmacy school to even greater heights of excellence, leadership and distinction,” said President Satish K. Tripathi. “As someone who combines distinguished research achievements in pharmacology with great breadth of scholarly expertise across the health sciences and impressive experience in academic administration, he will be a valuable member of UB’s senior leadership team as we further establish the university’s place in the ranks of the world’s best research universities.”

An accomplished researcher whose work has been widely recognized at the university, regional and national levels, O’Donnell also serves as professor and vice chair for research in the Department of Behavioral Medicine and Psychiatry at West Virginia University and holds secondary appointments in physiology and pharmacology, and clinical and translational sciences.

O’Donnell is an internationally prominent scholar in the areas of molecular psychopharmacology, molecular mechanisms of action of psychoactive drugs and behavioral correlates of drug-receptor interactions in the central nervous system.   He is principal investigator and co-investigator on multiple research grants funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). He was a member of the core group that established the West Virginia Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute, funded by the NIH, and he has been active as a chair and member of numerous NIH study sections.

O’Donnell has authored or co-authored nearly 100 articles in peer-reviewed journals, has presented numerous scientific papers and is a reviewer for 25 journals, among them Brain Research, the Journal of Neuroscience, the Journal of Psychopharmacology, Metabolic Brain Disease, Neuroscience and Science. 

Since 2009, he has served as associate editor of the prestigious Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics (JPET), which has been publishing for more than 100 years. A fellow of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology, he is a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Society of Neuroscience, the Behavioral Pharmacology Society and the European Behavioural Pharmacology Society.

“Dr. O’Donnell’s reputation precedes him,” Zukoski said. “He is well known not only as a leader in the pharmacology field, but also as a pivotal figure in the health sciences world more broadly—someone with tremendous breadth of knowledge about the key issues and challenges impacting the health sciences across and beyond the academy. The strength of his research and scholarly network will be an enormous asset to his leadership of the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences as one of the nation’s top pharmacy schools.”

Ranked among the top 20 pharmacy schools in the United States and considered one of the most prestigious, the UB School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences was founded in 1886. The second-oldest academic unit at UB and the only pharmacy school in the SUNY system, the school is renowned for its leadership and innovation in pharmaceutical education and research. It is widely considered to be the birthplace of academic biopharmaceutics, pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics.

Nearly 600 students currently are enrolled in the UB pharmacy school. The school’s 70 faculty members generated $9.8 million in total research expenditures in fiscal year 2012.

“O’Donnell has a full appreciation and understanding of the future changes in health care and how the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences can, through the recruitment of senior leadership in health care delivery, forge and strengthen affiliations with the university’s hospital and health system partners,” Cain said. “In addition, Jim’s vision and expertise in research and education, and his drive for excellence through collaboration, will be major assets for the five health sciences schools at UB.”

O’Donnell brings to the deanship a breadth of experience in academic and research administration, a continuous record of teaching and curriculum development, and a reputation for committed mentorship of faculty, fellows and students. He said he was drawn to the UB pharmacy school because of its reputation for excellence in clinical education and pioneering research, as well as its interdisciplinary collaborations as part of a larger academic health sciences enterprise.

“I view this as a tremendous opportunity,” O’Donnell said. “The school is already widely known for its outstanding training in pharmacy practice and the excellence of the many faculty conducting cutting-edge pharmaceutical research, and it is clearly well-positioned to lead on an even greater stage. I am energized by the opportunity to steer the school on this ambitious course and to help advance the exciting vision of excellence that the university and its health sciences schools are pursuing.”

O’Donnell earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Carnegie Mellon University and a PhD in pharmacological and physiological sciences from the University of Chicago. He completed a postdoctoral fellowship in neuropsychopharmacology at the University of Pennsylvania.

Prior to his time at West Virginia University, he held research and academic appointments at Los Alamos National Laboratory, Louisiana State University School of Medicine and the University of Tennessee Health Science Center.

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