PBS Expands Leadership Team

The Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Sciences Department, under the new direction of Interim Department Head Dr. Shelley Hooks, will expand its leadership team effective Monday, July 26.  New appointments include Dr. Eileen Kennedy, who will serve as the Interim Associate Department Head for Research and Faculty Development; Dr. Deborah Elder, who will be the Interim Assistant Department Head for Undergraduate and Professional Education; and Dr. Jason Zastre, who will serve as the Interim Assistant Department Head for Graduate Education.

“The new associate and assistant department head positions reflect the department’s collective commitment to research, faculty development, and undergraduate, graduate, and professional education,” said Dr. Hooks. “The faculty appointed to fill these interim positions have the experience to grow our strengths in each of these areas. I’m excited to work with them during this interim period to continue enhancing our research and teaching programs.”

Dr. Eileen Kennedy will combine key components of the newly vacated Associate Department Head position with her current Assistant Department Head responsibilities.  Specifically, Dr. Kennedy will promote faculty retention, recognition, promotion, professional development, diversity, inclusion, and mentoring.  In addition, she will identify and implement new strategies to foster local collaborations for externally-funded research projects; enhance commercialization and invention disclosures; and initiate and promote high-impact global research partnerships. Further, she will serve as an alternate Department Head for financial and human resource approvals and represent the department in College committees and functions. According to Dr. Hooks, “Dr. Kennedy’s prior service as Assistant Department Head and long service and interest in faculty development and research excellence uniquely qualify her for this position.”

Dr. Kennedy was named the Dr. Samuel C. Benedict Professor in 2019. Her research focuses on allosteric disruption of kinases using novel stabilized peptide inhibitors for the treatment of a wide variety of diseases spanning from cancer to Parkinson’s disease to tropical diseases, including malaria. Joining the College in 2010, she developed the first PBS Faculty Mentoring Committee, serving as chair since its inception. Dr. Kennedy has published nearly 50 peer-reviewed articles in such highly-regarded journals as ACS Chemical BiologyACS Infectious DiseasesEBMO JournalNature Methods, and Cancer Research. These publications are in addition to eight patents and patent applications.  Further, Dr. Kennedy has received more than $3.5 million in extramural funding, including a current R01 from the NIH in which she is the Pl; two Michael J. Fox Awards in which she is the lead PI; a NIH P01 grant in which she is a Co-I; and a Department of Defense Cancer Research New Idea Award.

Dr. Deborah Elder will focus on programmatic management and delivery of multiple BS, BS/MS, and PharmD academic programs in her new position. In addition, she will oversee all marketing and recruitment strategies for the BS and BS/MS dual degree programs and represent the department on all initiatives focused on undergraduate and professional education.  Commented Dr. Hooks, “As a Clinical Professor, Dr. Elder’s unique combination of clinical, laboratory, and didactic teaching will assure continuity of programmatic quality in these vital degree programs.”

Dr. Elder is a formulation scientist and registered pharmacist (GA) with more than 39 years of research experience, ranging from recombinant DNA to surveillance study of antineoplastic agents to dosage form design. She graduated in 1980 from Paine College in Augusta with a B.S. degree in Biology and later from CoP in 1991 with a BPharm and in 2007 with a PharmD. Joining the faculty of the College in 2002, Dr. Elder is considered CoP’s resident expert in compounding, and she contributes to both the professional and undergraduate programs in the College curriculum. She is the senior author of A Practical Guide to Contemporary Pharmacy Practice and Compounding, which was published recently in its 4th edition. The first African-American full professor in PBS, Dr. Elder is active in her local, university and professional communities. Recently sworn in as the 2021-22 chair of the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy Pharmaceutics Section, she is the past president of the UGA Black Faculty and Staff Organization, a CURO and Honors professor, and the faculty advisor for the UGA chapter of the Student National Pharmaceutical Association, a professional student pharmacy organization concerned with health issues affecting minority communities. 

Dr. Jason Zastre will focus on programmatic management and delivery of the MS and PhD academic programs and continue to serve as the Graduate Program Coordinator. In addition, he will lead the department in the development of new curricular components as necessary and assure student progression, success, and effective mentoring.  “Dr. Zastre’s experience in graduate teaching, mentoring, and program coordination will assure the quality of didactic and laboratory teaching,” said Dr. Hooks.

Joining CoP in 2007, Dr. Zastre’s research expertise is in the impact of vitamin B1 on cancer progression. A recipient of grant funding from the American Cancer Society and the NIH, he is the author of numerous papers and publications.

Congratulations to these outstanding faculty members, and best wishes to the PBS Department during this leadership transition.

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