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WSU College of Pharmacy fills two top positions

Two respected medical professionals from the Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine have accepted positions with Washington State University College of Pharmacy and WSU Health Sciences in Spokane.

Philip Lazarus, the founder and director of the Center for Pharmacogenetics at Penn State, has agreed to chair the pharmaceutical sciences department at WSU, College of Pharmacy spokeswoman Lorraine Nelson said.

“Dr. Lazarus’ international reputation gives us an enormous advantage in recruiting additional faculty in pharmaceutical sciences,” said Gary Pollack, vice provost for WSU Health Sciences. “We have ambitious plans to add a significant number of faculty in the next few years.”

Lazarus’ wife, Andrea Lazarus, has been appointed assistant vice president for research clinical health sciences.

The new position is responsible for helping WSU Health Sciences develop a competitive environment for health research, including clinical studies, Pollack said.

Andrea Lazarus was an administrator of the National Institutes of Health-funded Penn State Clinical and Translational Science Institute, which helps turn laboratory-based findings into clinical practice, Nelson said.

Said Pollack of the hires: “They are the type of people others want to work for. What we are trying to do is build a biomedical, highly research-active campus.”

He added that there are significant economic impacts in developing such a facility because it will bring new researchers and scientists, who in turn attract grant money to the area.

Pollack said recruiting the Lazaruses wouldn’t have been possible without the help of the Health Sciences & Services Authority, a Spokane-based agency created by the Legislature to encourage bioscience-based economic development. A $500,000 grant from HSSA will be used to buy research equipment and hire personnel to help transition Philip Lazarus’ work to Spokane.

Philip Lazarus said WSU offered him and his wife an opportunity they were looking for and appear to have the resources to back up the offer.

“They needed someone like me and someone like my wife, and they were able to find two really top positions for us,” he said. “They needed me to develop a department of pharmaceutical sciences and do my research.” Lazarus is currently doing research on how genetic differences affect people’s reactions to drugs, including cancer treatments.

Said Pollack, “I think the drawing point, as it is for a lot of people like that, is to build something that is fundamentally new. It is a unique opportunity to build programs that are internationally recognized.”