James Henkel, Ph.D.

Interim Dean, School of Pharmacy and Physician Assistant Studies Joined USJ:
Academic Degrees B.S., UCLA
Ph.D., Brown University
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Striving for Better Care, Less Cost

The future of pharmacy will be quite different than what are accustomed to – “much less dispensing, much more consultation,” predicts James Henkel. As health care reform advances and the population ages, pharmacists will increasingly become a focal point. USJ is therefore training students “for today, and tomorrow,” providing a foundation for the program’s future pharmacists – whatever career path they ultimately pursue – to tailor medication to be maximally effective for each individual, which “can result in better care, fewer hospital admissions, and less cost.”

Architect for Advancement

“Most people never get the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to build something from the ground up,” says Henkel, who spent two decades at the University of Connecticut’s School of Pharmacy before USJ came calling. The newly constructed, innovative USJ curriculum initially targets pharmacology fundamentals, then moves quickly in the second year to levels of complexity. “It begins black and white, and then introduces the many shades of gray in pharmacy,” says Henkel, who has specialized in drug design research into the synthesis of compounds, including National Institutes of Health–funded research into anti-cancer drugs and chemical toxicology. He recently completed Leadership Greater Hartford’s Quest program, and has also forged a connection with Hartford’s South Park Inn – working with homeless who often do not receive services as basic as blood pressure checks.

Put Me In, Coach

“Teaching is my passion,” Henkel says, comparing his approach to a coach on the sports field – guiding and advising his students as they learn the material, and then sending them into the field in “carefully controlled exposures” for students to see how their education can be utilized in real situations. The combination of the USJ block scheduling and experiential-intensive curriculum makes the comparison apt. “It is very hands-on. Students work in learning groups where communication is essential, and are totally immersed in one subject, until they master it – then they move on. We are developing leaders in the field,” Henkel says.