Susan Fagan, Distinguished Research Professor in the College of Pharmacy, says that both her research and teaching are inspired by the patients she sees and has seen in her clinical practice.
Where did you earn degrees and what are your current responsibilities at UGA?
I received my B.Sc. in Pharmacy from Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, and my Doctor of Pharmacy degree from the State University of New York at Buffalo. I currently serve as professor of pharmacy, assistant dean for the Augusta campus of the College of Pharmacy and associate head of the department of clinical and administrative pharmacy. I spend approximately 50 percent of my time doing research in stroke therapeutics, 20 percent in administering the program in Augusta and 30 percent in teaching both pharmacy students and graduate students.
When did you come to UGA and what brought you here?
I moved to UGA in 1999 from Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan, because I was attracted to the stroke program at the Medical College of Georgia and wanted to have my own laboratory for the first time in my career. It is at the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center in Augusta.
What are your favorite courses and why?
I help deliver the fall semester of the pharmacotherapy sequence in the third year of the Professional Pharmacy program. It is my favorite course because the students learn how to use their knowledge of drugs and diseases to make decisions on how to manage sick patients. It is very challenging for the students but they end up well-prepared for their clinical rotations in their fourth and final year. I also have an elective titled “Cases in Neurology” where I get together with a small group of students to discuss patient cases and approaches to “working up” a patient with a neurologic illness, even a disease they have never studied.
What interests you about your field?
Pharmacy is always changing and the way drugs are used to help patients is in continuous flux as new drugs are introduced and new evidence is published. It is a really good feeling knowing a lot about drugs and being able to help patients navigate and understand their drug therapy.
What are some highlights of your career at UGA?
In 2003, I received my first RO1 grant from the National Institutes of Health for my laboratory-based research and it made my move to Augusta in 1999 seem like it was the right one for me. From that time, I began thinking of myself as a scientist in addition to a teacher and a pharmacist. Also, when I was named Distinguished Research Professor and honored “between the hedges” at Sanford Stadium in 2013, I felt extremely grateful to UGA for giving me the opportunity to succeed at a high level and for naming me to the inaugural class of Women’s Leadership Fellows. I have a lot more to accomplish at UGA.
How does your research or scholarship inspire your teaching, and vice versa?
Actually, all of my research and teaching is inspired by the patients I see and have seen in my clinical practice. Seeing patients and their families suffer from the devastating consequences of neurologic illnesses makes me want to work harder to find better treatments for them. When I can tell real patient stories in the classroom, I know my students pay close attention and want to help too!
What do you hope students gain from their classroom experience with you?
I hope that my students gain a love of pharmacotherapy and a thirst for knowledge they can use to help their patients. I also hope they feel a sense of responsibility for the outcomes of the patients in their care.
Describe your ideal student.
I am very fortunate to have the wonderful students I have at UGA. They are polite, enthusiastic and driven to help patients.
Favorite place to be/thing to do on campus is…
I am a charter member of the Wellness Center on the Augusta campus. It is a university-run fitness facility and I attend every day. I believe that physical exercise improves all aspects of life.
Beyond the UGA campus, I like to…
… swim, read and get together with friends and family. My favorite television show is “So You Think You Can Dance.”
Community/civic involvement includes…
A ladies book club and church activities. I am starting to look for volunteer opportunities that benefit dementia patients.
Favorite book/movie (and why)?
I love “High School Musical” and have seen it too many times to count! I gravitate to Disney films since I don’t like anything negative or violent, and I love MUSIC!
Proudest moment at UGA?
When our college was commended nationally by our accrediting body, the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education, for our involvement of pharmacy students in research presented at national pharmacy organization meetings.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
I love dogs and Dawgs!
(Originally published on Feb. 21, 2016)