For PharmD candidates seeking to enter the field of pharmaceutical health services research, a second doctoral degree is often recommended. And while it can be a worthwhile undertaking, it is also arduous to obtain.

Ilene Zuckerman, PharmD, PhD, BSP

That’s why Ilene Zuckerman, PharmD ’83, PhD, BSP ’81, a faculty member at the School of Pharmacy, recently established the Harris Zuckerman Scholarship Fund Endowment to assist students in pursuit of a PharmD and a PhD.

“I believe in higher education,” Zuckerman says, “and I really wanted to help PharmD students who have the desire to pursue their PhD. It’s a big investment of time and resources, and the scholarship will support those students who choose to make this investment.”

Zuckerman chairs the Department of Pharmaceutical Health Services Research, where her research focuses on improving drug therapy outcomes in older adults. Her expertise lies in applying epidemiological methods to analysis of large databases and pharmacy records for comparative effectiveness, safety, and adherence studies.

The kinds of students who would be motivated to obtain a second doctorate, she says, would be interested in acquiring the knowledge and skills to conduct population-based research on drug-related topics to address important questions about drug safety, effectiveness, and cost-effectiveness.

“Our PharmD graduates receive outstanding clinical training,” she says. “We’re producing excellent clinicians. But it takes extra training to be able to apply the clinical knowledge and skills for conducting research at the population level.”

Zuckerman joined the faculty in 1983, after receiving her BS and PharmD degrees from the School of Pharmacy. Two decades later, Zuckerman pursued her PhD in epidemiology from the University of Maryland Graduate School.

She established the new scholarship to honor her parents, Daniel Harris, MD, and Ann Harris. “They’ve always been very supportive of education and have helped me tremendously,” she says. “I don’t think most of us could do it without our parents.”

Zuckerman reminisces how her father, an anesthesiologist who received his medical degree from the University of Maryland School of Medicine, helped her with her studies when she was in pharmacy school. Ann Harris always emphasized the value of professional education to her three daughters, and they took her advice. In addition to Zuckerman’s lofty pharmacy status, her sisters are a lawyer and a pediatric nurse practitioner.

“My husband and I are very honored to have the scholarship named after us,” says Ann Harris. “We have always encouraged our daughters to get an education – something that they would always have and that no one can ever take away from them. I wanted them to be independent.

“We are glad that, by setting up this scholarship, a young student will be able to pursue an education in the field of pharmacy-related research,” she adds.

The School of Pharmacy has a dual-degree program leading to the PharmD and a PhD, but only a handful of students have completed it, Zuckerman says. Professionals with both degrees would be prepared to become leaders in academia, the pharmaceutical industry, or government agencies, such as the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

The scholarship will provide endowed support for the training, development, and advancement of graduate students in pharmaceutical health services research at the School. Funds may be used for scholarships, research expenditures, travel to educational conferences, or related expenses.