PBS Expands Leadership Team; Dr. Shelley Hooks New Interim Department Head

The Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Sciences (PBS) Department expanded its leadership team and appointed a new interim director just prior to the beginning of fall semester.

Dr. Shelley Hooks, a Professor in PBS and Associate Vice President in the UGA Office of the Vice President for Research, was appointed Interim Department Head. “Dr. Hooks is an accomplished teacher, researcher, and academic leader,” said Dean Kelly M. Smith. “In her various roles throughout the years, she has consistently demonstrated her ability to both advocate for and lead faculty, staff, and students in a highly effective manner. I am grateful for her willingness to serve in this interim capacity.”

Dr. Hooks joined the College of Pharmacy in 2004 as an Assistant Professor and has risen within the ranks during her tenure. Some of her numerous roles at the College have included: Interim and Associate Director for the UGA Center for Drug Discovery and the Graduate Coordinator for the PBS Department. In addition, she has served or chaired various College and University committees, working groups, and review panels, including the College’s Academic and Professionalism Committee, the Facilities and Safety Committee, the Graduate Education and Curriculum Committee, the PBS Management Committee, and the PBS Graduate Program Committee.

In her current position as the UGA Associate Vice President for Research, she oversees the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs and Internal Grants and Awards.  Her research concentrates on the molecular mechanisms by which cellular signaling regulates cell function, and how these signaling mechanisms go awry in cancer and central nervous system disorders.

Dr. Hooks assumed the position following the departure of Dr. Brian Cummings, who resigned from his position after accepting the position of Dean at the Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan, his alma mater. A search is underway for a permanent PBS Department Head.  For further information, see the position profile and application process.  

Other new appointments include Dr. Eileen Kennedy, who will serve as the Interim Associate Department Head for Research and Faculty Development; Dr. Deborah Elder, who will serve as the Interim Assistant Department Head for Undergraduate and Professional Education; and Dr. Jason Zastre, who will serve as the Interim Assistant Department Head for Graduate Education.

“The new associate and assistant department head positions reflect the department’s collective commitment to research, faculty development, and undergraduate, graduate, and professional education,” said Dr. Hooks. “The faculty appointed to fill these interim positions have the experience to grow our strengths in each of these areas. I’m excited to work with them during this interim period to enhance our research and teaching programs.”

Dr. Kennedy combines key components of the newly vacated Associate Department Head position with her current Assistant Department Head responsibilities.  Specifically, Dr. Kennedy focuses on faculty retention, recognition, promotion, professional development, diversity, inclusion, and mentoring.  In addition, she identifies and implements new strategies to foster local collaborations for externally-funded research projects; enhances commercialization and invention disclosures; and initiates and promotes high-impact global research partnerships. Further, she serves as an alternate Department Head for financial and human resource approvals and represents the department in College committees and functions. 

Dr. Elder focuses on programmatic management and delivery of multiple BS, BS/MS, and PharmD academic programs in her new position. In addition, she oversees all marketing and recruitment strategies for the BS and BS/MS dual degree programs and represents the department on all initiatives focused on these areas. A formulation scientist and registered pharmacist (GA) with more than 39 years of research experience, she joined the College in 2002.  The College’s resident expert in compounding, Dr. Elder is the author of A Practical Guide to Contemporary Pharmacy Practice and Compounding (4th edition), 2021-22 Chair of the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy Pharmaceutics Section, a CURO and Honors professor, and the faculty advisor for the UGA chapter of the Student National Pharmaceutical Association. As the first African American full professor in PBS, Dr. Elder is the Past-President of the UGA Black Faculty and Staff Organization and the 2021 recipient of the College’s Distinguished Alumni Award.

Dr. Jason Zastre focuses on programmatic management and delivery of the MS and PhD academic programs and continues to serve as the Graduate Program Coordinator. In addition, he leads the department in the development of new curricular components as necessary and assures student progression, success, and effective mentoring.  Joining the College in 2007, Dr. Zastre’s research expertise is in the impact of vitamin B1 on cancer progression. A recipient of grant funding from the American Cancer Society and the National Institutes for Health, he is the author of numerous papers and publications.

Dean Smith added, “I am grateful to our dedicated faculty who serve in a leadership role within the PBS department. From personal experience, I have seen how there is one consistent theme – everyone is willing to pull together to make the department even more vibrant and stronger than it already is. I am confident that the PBS faculty and staff will continue to model this sentiment.”

The Department of Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Sciences is an interdisciplinary unit with basic science research spanning broad areas, including molecular pharmacology and pharmaceutics, drug discovery and delivery, protein engineering, and medicinal chemistry.