BUFFALO, N.Y. — James M. O’Donnell,
associate dean for research in the School of Medicine and assistant
vice president for research in the Health Sciences Center at West
Virginia University, has been named dean of the University at
Buffalo School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.
The appointment, which followed an international search, was
announced today by Provost Charles F. Zukoski and Michael E. Cain,
vice president for health sciences. O’Donnell is
expected to assume the position by Nov. 1.
As dean, O’Donnell will be responsible for providing
overall leadership to the UB pharmacy school, promoting academic
excellence and advancing its national and international prominence
in research. He will serve as a member of UB’s senior
leadership team, working collaboratively with the president,
provost, vice president for health sciences, cabinet members and
other deans to advance the university’s UB 2020 strategic
“Dr. O’Donnell is an outstanding choice to lead our
nationally ranked pharmacy school to even greater heights of
excellence, leadership and distinction,” said President
Satish K. Tripathi. “As someone who combines distinguished
research achievements in pharmacology with great breadth of
scholarly expertise across the health sciences and impressive
experience in academic administration, he will be a valuable member
of UB’s senior leadership team as we further establish the
university’s place in the ranks of the world’s best
An accomplished researcher whose work has been widely recognized
at the university, regional and national levels, O’Donnell
also serves as professor and vice chair for research in the
Department of Behavioral Medicine and Psychiatry at West Virginia
University and holds secondary appointments in physiology and
pharmacology, and clinical and translational sciences.
O’Donnell is an internationally prominent scholar in the
areas of molecular psychopharmacology, molecular mechanisms of
action of psychoactive drugs and behavioral correlates of
drug-receptor interactions in the central nervous system.
He is principal investigator and co-investigator on
multiple research grants funded by the National Institutes of
Health (NIH). He was a member of the core group that established
the West Virginia Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute,
funded by the NIH, and he has been active as a chair and member of
numerous NIH study sections.
O’Donnell has authored or co-authored nearly 100 articles
in peer-reviewed journals, has presented numerous scientific papers
and is a reviewer for 25 journals, among them Brain Research, the
Journal of Neuroscience, the Journal of Psychopharmacology,
Metabolic Brain Disease, Neuroscience and Science.
Since 2009, he has served as associate editor of the prestigious
Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics (JPET), which
has been publishing for more than 100 years. A fellow of the
American College of Neuropsychopharmacology, he is a member of the
American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Society of
Neuroscience, the Behavioral Pharmacology Society and the European
Behavioural Pharmacology Society.
“Dr. O’Donnell’s reputation precedes
him,” Zukoski said. “He is well known not only as a
leader in the pharmacology field, but also as a pivotal figure in
the health sciences world more broadly—someone with
tremendous breadth of knowledge about the key issues and challenges
impacting the health sciences across and beyond the academy. The
strength of his research and scholarly network will be an enormous
asset to his leadership of the School of Pharmacy and
Pharmaceutical Sciences as one of the nation’s top pharmacy
Ranked among the top 20 pharmacy schools in the United States
and considered one of the most prestigious, the UB School of
Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences was founded in 1886. The
second-oldest academic unit at UB and the only pharmacy school in
the SUNY system, the school is renowned for its leadership and
innovation in pharmaceutical education and research. It is widely
considered to be the birthplace of academic biopharmaceutics,
pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics.
Nearly 600 students currently are enrolled in the UB pharmacy
school. The school’s 70 faculty members generated $9.8
million in total research expenditures in fiscal year 2012.
“O’Donnell has a full appreciation and understanding
of the future changes in health care and how the School of Pharmacy
and Pharmaceutical Sciences can, through the recruitment of senior
leadership in health care delivery, forge and strengthen
affiliations with the university’s hospital and health system
partners,” Cain said. “In addition, Jim’s vision
and expertise in research and education, and his drive for
excellence through collaboration, will be major assets for the five
health sciences schools at UB.”
O’Donnell brings to the deanship a breadth of experience
in academic and research administration, a continuous record of
teaching and curriculum development, and a reputation for committed
mentorship of faculty, fellows and students. He said he was drawn
to the UB pharmacy school because of its reputation for excellence
in clinical education and pioneering research, as well as its
interdisciplinary collaborations as part of a larger academic
health sciences enterprise.
“I view this as a tremendous opportunity,”
O’Donnell said. “The school is already widely known for
its outstanding training in pharmacy practice and the excellence of
the many faculty conducting cutting-edge pharmaceutical research,
and it is clearly well-positioned to lead on an even greater stage.
I am energized by the opportunity to steer the school on this
ambitious course and to help advance the exciting vision of
excellence that the university and its health sciences schools are
O’Donnell earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology
from Carnegie Mellon University and a PhD in pharmacological and
physiological sciences from the University of Chicago. He completed
a postdoctoral fellowship in neuropsychopharmacology at the
University of Pennsylvania.
Prior to his time at West Virginia University, he held research
and academic appointments at Los Alamos National Laboratory,
Louisiana State University School of Medicine and the University of
Tennessee Health Science Center.