College of Pharmacy celebrates past, present and future

(L to R) Raymond Shelley, senior vice-president, Apotex Inc., Dr. Brian Postl, dean, Rady Faculty of Health Sciences, Cameron Friesen, Minister of Health, Seniors and Active Living, and Dr. Lalitha Raman-Wilms, dean, College of Pharmacy, at the Apotex Centre celebration.

IT’S BEEN 10 YEARS since the College of Pharmacy opened the Apotex Centre, its stateof-the-art building on the Bannatyne campus.

In November, more than 100 alumni, donors, students and friends of the university gathered at a reception to mark the anniversary and celebrate the launch of the new Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) undergraduate degree program. Guests also heard about the college’s achievements and strategic priorities.

“It’s a day to celebrate our past, our present and our future,” said Dr. Lalitha Raman-Wilms, dean of the College of Pharmacy.

The college itself dates back to 1899, when the first classes were held at 422 Notre Dame Ave. Following moves to the Broadway and Fort Garry campuses, it arrived in 2008 at its current site at the corner of McDermot Avenue and Emily Street.

“This incredible, architecturally stunning building we’re standing in was made possible through the generosity of the provincial government and a number of corporate and private donors,” said Raman-Wilms, adding that many alumni contributed to the $32-million facility. “Each and every donation made it happen.”

The location enables pharmacy students to gain inter-professional experience alongside their peers in the Rady Faculty of Health Sciences. “This building made it possible for pharmacy students to work more closely with students from the other health professions – dentistry, medicine and rehabilitation sciences – located on the Bannatyne campus,” said Brian Postl [MD/76], dean of the Rady Faculty of Health Sciences and vice-provost (health sciences).

Cameron Friesen, Minister of Health, Seniors and Active Living, brought greetings from the Manitoba government. He also emphasized health-care teamwork and its potential to create efficiencies. “Partnerships we form among medical professionals are essential,” said Friesen. “Health care is expensive and our population is aging – the price is only going to go up.”

Raymond Shelley, senior vice-president, commercial operations, brought greetings from Apotex Inc., the Canadian pharmaceutical company that was a major contributor to the building campaign.

“Over 40 years ago, our founder, Dr. Barry Sherman, started Apotex with a vision of providing affordable health care to Canadians,” Shelley said. “He recognized very early that a key partner in helping him achieve his vision would be pharmacists.…

“Standing here representing Apotex as a donor 10 years later, as you launch your PharmD program, I can see that we made a great investment and I’m proud Apotex was part of your success.”

U of M Vice-President (External) John Kearsey, master of ceremonies for the reception, congratulated the College of Pharmacy and lauded the vision of donors to the Apotex Centre for “creating opportunities for students to excel, for groundbreaking research … and positioning the university as a leading post-secondary institution.”

The award-winning, 100,000-square-foot facility essentially doubled the college’s capacity for research and education. “The increased number of bench spaces for students in the Apotex Centre addressed the critical shortage of pharmacists across Canada and now, 10 years later, made it possible to introduce the new PharmD program,” said Postl.

PharmD, which had its first intake this fall, offers an advanced curriculum with significantly more experiential learning and clinical training than the baccalaureate program that it replaces.

“Our graduates will be better prepared to meet the needs of an aging population who use more medications,” said Raman-Wilms.

“They will also be practise-ready to work in collaborative health-care teams, to better manage chronic conditions such as diabetes, kidney disease and conditions related to mental health.”

Mariam Guindi, junior stick of the College of Pharmacy Class of 2020, spoke on behalf of the student body. “To me, receiving my education here [at the U of M] at Apotex means unrestricted opportunities,” she said. “It means advanced learning facilities. It means that I will feel beyond prepared to face the real world.”