Pharmacy school alumna donates $5M to establish academic drug development center

Pharmaceutical entrepreneur and University of the Pacific alumna Dr. Jie Du gives $5M to found the Jie Du Center for Innovation and Excellence for Drug Development at the university’s Thomas J. Long School of Pharmacy in Stockton.

The gift has been matched by the Powell Fund Match established through an extraordinary gift of $125 million from the estate of the late Regents Robert C. and Jeannette Powell, doubling the impact of Du’s gift and resulting in a $10 million endowment to the School of Pharmacy.

“I wanted to do something that would make a meaningful difference for Pacific students,” said Du. “When I started my American life as a young student at Pacific who barely spoke English, I never dreamed that one day I could contribute to the success of the university’s School of Pharmacy. I’m deeply grateful for the education I received and this opportunity to prepare Pacific students as they embark on careers in pharmaceutical drug development and business.”

Du earned her PhD in pharmaceutics from Pacific in 1993 and served as the founder, president and CEO of JDP Therapeutics Inc. until it was acquired in 2019.

The Jie Du Center will serve to promote innovation in drug development through education, training and mentorship, while fostering collaboration between Pacific students and industrial scientists. Students will gain skills in pharmaceutical regulation, entrepreneurship and business to prepare them for navigating the challenges associated with new ventures in drug development.

“This transformative gift allows Pacific and the Thomas J. Long School of Pharmacy to create a distinctive academic center,” said Dr. Phillip R. Oppenheimer, dean of the Thomas J. Long School of Pharmacy. “The center’s key initiatives are focused on student success, including support for research, student travel for presentations and funding of innovative research equipment. These opportunities will play a crucial role in transforming our students into practice-ready scientists and professionals.”

Each year, hundreds of innovative ideas are assessed by investors for their scientific, clinical, regulatory and business merits, as well as commercial opportunities and limits. To prepare students for successful careers, they need a deep understanding of all aspects of the pharmaceutical and health care technology industries.

“Innovation is a precious commodity for the cutting-edge, highly competitive pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries,” said Dr. Bhaskara R. Jasti, a professor of pharmaceutics and medicinal chemistry at Pacific. “We are excited the center will provide a platform for entrepreneurial innovators to translate their ideas into products that improve the well-being of patients.”

In addition to Pacific students, programs offered at the center will be open to alumni and scientists currently working in the industry.

The center’s mission of training practice-ready scientists aligns with the university’s mission of preparing students for lasting achievement and responsible leadership in careers and communities, as well as Thomas J. Long School of Pharmacy’s mission of preparing students for lifelong success in health and health-related careers.

 

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