Samit Shah

When Dr. Samit Shah grew up in India, he was enthralled by science. He liked chemistry and biology, the physical and mental, all the research — just about all aspects of science. He wanted to do it all.

But he knew he couldn’t.

“I thought pharmacy was the most versatile science degree out there,” he said. “You get trained in such a broad area of topics and it prepares you for such a wide variety of roles, whether it’s clinical practice, community pharmacy, medical affairs, clinical trials and regulatory affairs, academia or research. I pursued pharmacy because I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. I knew the degree would open up so many doors.”

As things would have it, pharmacy would provide a long, winding and great career for Shah.

Shah recently was named the new dean for the Regis University School of Pharmacy. The highly decorated scholar and clinician begins on Aug. 1.

Shah comes from the Keck Graduate Institute (KGI) School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences in California, where he was the associate dean of Academic Affairs for three years. He also served as the assistant dean and department chair of biopharmaceutical sciences.

He earned a bachelor’s in pharmacy in India, a doctorate in pharmaceutical sciences from the University of Missouri-Kansas City, and an MBA from South University in Savannah, Georgia. He received post-doctoral training at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He is a 2017 graduate of the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy Academic Leadership Fellows Program. He is a licensed pharmacist in Georgia and Washington and has worked at Rite Aid Pharmacy and HealthQwest Clinic.

He has been published in multiple journals and has received the “Teacher of the Year” award from pharmacy students several times. He helped develop master’s programs at KGI in the groundbreaking fields of genomic data analytics and genetic counseling, and assisted in raising $1.5 million to fund the development of these programs.

Shah, who will be joined by his wife Payal and the couple’s 8-year-old son, Aarush, sat down with Regis Today to discuss his appointment as dean, what it means and what he plans to focus on.

First off, why Regis?

There were a lot of things. I was really attracted to the mission, the Jesuit values, the integrated pharmacy curriculum and the team-based learning. I really think that’s the future of pharmacy education. But also the fact of how well the school has been doing. This year, they were ranked seventh out of more than 130 schools for the North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination (NAPLEX) pass rate. That’s the test students take to be a licensed pharmacist. The residency match rates have also been exceptional. These facts speak volumes about the quality of the pharmacy program at Regis.

You mentioned you loved science. How did you stick with pharmacy?

I figured out I loved teaching. I was passionate about pharmacy and found that academia was a way to combine these two loves. For me, it’s that moment that you know a student is able to get a tough concept. It’s that “ah-ha” or Eureka moment. For me, that’s the part that’s really fun. Seeing the ability educators have to transform a student’s life is pretty amazing. It’s a place almost no other profession could have.

What are you excited about and what are some ideas you have for Regis? 

I want to focus on our student outcomes. I want to make sure the students are doing well. One thing that drew me to this job was Regis’ commitment to continuing to recruit high-quality applicants into the program. I loved that about Regis. They aren’t dropping their requirements. I want to keep the quality strong. I want to keep the NAPLEX pass rates high and keep getting our students into top residency programs. I want to prepare students who can lead implementation of new services such as pharmacogenomics. I also want to work with the faculty to see if we could provide opportunities in the curriculum to expose students to non-traditional roles such as medical affairs and health economics outcomes research.

What do you like to do outside the office?

We have an 8-year-old son so we spend a lot of time with him. We both love to hike. We both love to play table tennis. We all learned to ski this last season, so I’m really looking forward to skiing in some real snow.