PHSR Teacher and Mentor Retires from the School of Pharmacy

Sheila Weiss, PhD, concludes successful career in academia and embarks on new opportunity in health services industry.

PHSR Teacher and Mentor Retires from the School of Pharmacy

By Malissa Carroll
May 21, 2013

On April 30, Sheila Weiss, PhD, professor in the Department of Pharmaceutical Health Services Research (PHSR), bid farewell to faculty, staff, and students at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy, ending her 16-year academic career and beginning a new adventure as the principal epidemiologist at Optum, the health services business of the UnitedHealth Group.

“It has been a pleasure and a privilege to be a member of the faculty at the School of Pharmacy,” says Weiss. “Although I will greatly miss interacting with my students and colleagues at the School, I am excited to be joining one of the largest and most experienced teams of pharmacoepidemiologists in the country.”

Weiss joined the faculty at the School of Pharmacy as an assistant professor in 1997, after being recruited from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to help develop the School’s emerging pharmacoepidemiology research program. During her time at the School, Weiss’ research almost exclusively focused in the field of pharmacoepidemiology, identifying and evaluating potential risks associated with pharmaceuticals and other products regulated by the FDA.

“There was one exception in which my research led me out of the field of pharmacoepidemiology,” recalls Weiss. “For that project, I collaborated with NASA scientists to use satellite data to predict severe asthma attacks in children, which led to my applying those same data mining techniques to drug safety.”

Weiss held numerous leadership positions during her time at the School of Pharmacy, including serving as chair of the Faculty Affairs Committee from 2005-2006 and faculty advisor for the student chapter of the International Society of Pharmacoepidemiology. She was also the founding director of the School’s Center for Drug Safety, which strives to improve public health by enhancing the safety of marketed medications through the development and application of pharmacoepidemiology and pharmacovigilance research.

“There have been so many changes since I started working at the School of Pharmacy more than a decade ago,” says Weiss. “When I started, there was no PHSR Department. The graduate program was part of the Department of Pharmacy Practice and Science. I feel grateful to have had the opportunity to watch this unique department grow in both numbers and reputation over the years.

Weiss also led the effort to create a graduate program in pharmacoepidemiology. She worked with Patricia Langenberg, PhD, professor of epidemiology and public health at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, to develop a unique collaborative training program that allowed students to earn degrees from both the School of Pharmacy and School of Medicine simultaneously. Through this popular program, students receive a doctorate in pharmaceutical health services research from the School of Pharmacy and a master’s degree in epidemiology from the School of Medicine.

On May 8, faculty, staff, and students in PHSR hosted a celebration to recognize Weiss’ remarkable academic career.

“Sheila has been a supporter of the PHSR Department for many years,” said Ilene Zuckerman, PharmD, PhD, professor and chair of PHSR. “I may have started my career with the School of Pharmacy before Sheila, but I consider her to be the ultimate teacher. She taught me so much, and I have so many memories of her mentoring me on the things she does so wonderfully, teaching and counseling both students and colleagues.”

“I’m thrilled that Sheila has found a position in which she can thrive for the rest of her career,” continues Frank Palumbo, PhD, JD, professor and executive director of the Center on Drugs and Public Policy at the School of Pharmacy, and one of Weiss’ colleagues. “Her career at the School of Pharmacy has been fruitful, and now that she’s stepping into a new world, I wish her nothing but the best.”

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