Message from Dean Lisa DOlovich
Tackling the COVID-19 pandemic has shown us just how much the world needs pharmacists and pharmaceutical scientists. While we have not yet exited the pandemic, we are at a point where we can reflect on our contributions and draw lessons from the issues and tensions in our societies that the pandemic has laid bare.
Through an incredible feat of scientific effort and ingenuity, vaccines against COVID-19 have given us the power to fight back against the virus, to reclaim some elements of our pre-pandemic lives, to draw hope and renewed resilience despite the continued uncertainty that lies ahead.
As places where scientific knowledge is created, where health care providers are trained, where fundamental ethical issues around truth and equity are voiced and debated, what do lessons of the pandemic mean for the role and place of universities? As we continued much of our work over the past year in an almost exclusively virtual world, what are the lessons learned about our Faculty as a physical place and the importance of place in fostering community and innovation? These are questions many people across higher education and beyond are asking.
As I reflect on the many remarkable stories and achievements captured in this year’s Dean’s Report I have kept these questions in my mind and I invite you to do the same.
In just over six months, educators in our Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) program trained more than 600 PharmD students to deliver injections and join the frontlines of the provincial vaccination campaign. Several of these students share their reflections on how the vaccine clinics where they worked were transformed to be inclusive and culturally appropriate spaces. “Through the success of these inclusive clinics,” they write, “we came to appreciate that responding to people’s diverse needs is instrumental to facilitate trust in seeking health care.”
To support our colleagues in pharmacy worldwide, we developed a virtual demonstration of how to prepare the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. This video has been viewed more than 50,000 times and has bolstered the pandemic response in countries like Australia where it is being used as part of a training package for Queensland Health’s surge workforce.
This last year we celebrated 100 years since the discovery of insulin at the University of Toronto – the one place that fostered the historic discovery by Frederick Banting and Charles Best. It’s a phenomenal example of how important drug discoveries can change the lives of people all over the world. And our researchers, whether focused on diabetes or other conditions, are part of a culture of innovation and discovery inspired by Banting and Best.
These far reaching contributions, and many more are highlighted in the report, are outstanding. And while our sights and ambitions continue to be set on making impact in the world around us, we have also turned our attention inward, to reflect on how we create healthy and inclusive places of work and study. Building on momentum from 2019, we have established a Working Group focused on equity, diversity and inclusion. I have tasked the Working Group with developing evidence-based recommendations on how to support a healthy and inclusive learning and work environment for everyone at our Faculty.
I encourage you to join with me in celebrating the efforts and contributions made over the past year by everyone who is part of the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy. It has been a truly remarkable time for the profession of pharmacy and the pharmaceutical sciences as we continue to move science forward and contribute to a healthier society.
Professor and Dean
Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy
University of Toronto