Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

The UCI School of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences’ Commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

The mission of the School of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences at UCI is to be a driving force for the advancement of health and wellness of individuals and society. We believe that plurality of experiences, accomplishments, and values leads to greater innovation and creativity. We therefore strive to maximize opportunities and inclusion for all SPPS members and affiliates so that we can use our potential to achieve academic, scientific, and clinical excellence. Our goal is to serve all communities in the region, the State and beyond.

February is Black History Month

Celebrate Black excellence while increasing your awareness of the challenges and struggles still faced by Black communities with programming organized by the UCI School of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences’ DEI Committee. Please take advantage of this important time for reflection and action by learning about allyship and participating in our programming this month.


  •  Special screening of Hidden Figures on Feb. 22, 11:30-1 p.m. ISEB 1010
    • Find more details on the free event here.



Notable Black Chemists and Scientists in the medical, pharmaceutical and chemistry fields

  1. Percy Julian – A steroid chemist and an entrepreneur, Percy Julian ingeniously figured out how to synthesize important medicinal compounds from abundant plant sources, making them more affordable to mass-produce. 
  2. Marie M. Daily – Overcoming the dual hurdles of racial and gender bias, Marie Maynard Daily (1921–2003) conducted important studies on cholesterol, sugars, and proteins. In addition to her research, she was committed to developing programs to increase the enrollment of minority students in medical school and graduate science programs. 
  3. St. Elmo Brady – first African American to obtain a PhD degree in chemistry in the United States 
  4. Alice Ball – Alice Ball was an African American chemist who developed the first successful treatment for those suffering from Hansen’s disease (leprosy). 
  5. Jane C. Wright – Dr. Jane Wright became professor of surgery, head of the cancer chemotherapy department, and associate dean at New York Medical College, and the highest ranked African American woman at a nationally recognized medical institution. 
  6. Harold Amos – Amos dedicated much of his career to supporting the advancement of historically underrepresented individuals and communities within the fields of medicine and science. He also pursued an impressive research agenda, gaining international recognition for his work on bacterial metabolism, nutrition, animal cell culture, virology, and the effects of hormones 
  7. Jane C. Wright – Dr. Jane Wright became professor of surgery, head of the cancer chemotherapy department, and associate dean at New York Medical College, and the highest ranked African American woman at a nationally recognized medical institution. 
  8. Charles Drew – Renowned surgeon and pioneer in the preservation of life-saving blood plasma 
  9. Lloyd Noel Ferguson – the first African American to earn a chemistry Ph.D. at UCB. During his time at Berkeley, Ferguson worked with Melvin Calvin on the synthesis of Schiff base ligands used to form transition metal complexes that mimic the oxygen-carrying ability of biological proteins. 
  10. Alma Levant Hayden – Hayden came to national attention in 1963 when she led the team that exposed the common substance in Krebiozen, a long-controversial alternative and expensive drug promoted as anti-cancer. 



History of health disparities, discriminations, and medical abuse against African Americans 

Leading up to the official launch of the school in 2020, the UCI School of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences established a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Committee in November 2019. Currently, the committee consists of nine faculty members, five students, and three staff members.

The work of the UCI School of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences’ DEI Committee is just beginning, and we encourage our students, faculty, and staff to get involved. So far, the committee has prioritized:

  • Adding guidance on DEI for those conducting admission interviews
  • Adding curricular content on DEI throughout our courses
  • Engaging student leaders in DEI discussion


During the admissions process for the inaugural PharmD class, several strategies were implemented to prevent implicit bias:

  • Application review and interview day rubrics incorporated language that cautioned reviewers for implicit biases
  • Applications reviewed by at least two faculty members
  • Balanced faculty interviewers
  • Holistic admissions approach
  • Blinded names, gender, and race/ethnicity data during admissions discussions


PharmD Inaugural Cohort

In addition to the work of the DEI Committee, other faculty members are taking the lead in advancing diversity in pharmaceutical sciences and the pharmacy profession:


Equity Advisor: Professor Mahtab Jafari

An Equity Advisor is a senior faculty member appointed as an advisor to the Dean in their respective schools. Andrej Luptak served in this position for the past four years and Mahtab Jafari was appointed to assume the role starting with the 2021-22 academic year. Equity Advisors participate in faculty recruiting by approving search strategies and raising awareness of Best Practices. Additionally, they organize faculty development programs with formal and informal mentoring and address individual issues raised by women and underrepresented minority faculty.

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DECADE Mentor: Professor Brian Paegel

DECADE Mentors are committed to fostering an inclusive environment within UCI’s graduate programs and promoting diversity campus-wide within the graduate student population. Claudia Benavente served in this position through the past three years and Brian Paegel was appointed to assume the role moving forward. DECADE Mentors serve as a resource to graduate students and faculty alike, collaborating with Equity Advisors and UCI’s Graduate Division to accomplish their program’s DEI goals.

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Inclusive Excellence: Professor Frances Leslie

Inclusive Excellence: Professor Frances Leslie Inclusive Excellence Professors are nominated by colleagues around the UCI campus and they are selected based on their demonstrated commitment and a track record of activities that advance inclusive excellence on campus. In this role, Leslie works as an advisor to UCI’s Associate Vice Provost for Faculty Development, Nina Bandelj, to organize and run faculty-development activities. They serve as one-on-one mentors for faculty who participate in the grant-sponsored activities.

Research & Collaboration Focused on Health Equity

Student and Faculty Highlights

The School of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences is engaging faculty, staff, and students to explore unconscious biases to improve our learning and working environments. Taking place January-May 2022, these monthly gatherings are an interactive opportunity for our community members from different backgrounds to engage in open and meaningful conversations so that we may learn from each other.