Newswise — The Mario Family Foundation has committed to a $2 million grant to the Rutgers Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy to establish a scholarship fund to support students accepted into the school’s dual PharmD/MD program.

The grant commitment, from the foundation established by alumnus Ernest Mario ’61, after whom the school was renamed in 2001, will offer scholarships to PharmD/MD dual degree program students completing their final two years of pharmacy education.

The funds will be used to establish The Mario Family Foundation Endowed PharmD/MD Scholarship to help students in the unique and highly selective program, which is designed to create an elite group of interdisciplinary practitioners who are highly skilled in both pharmacy and medicine.

The dual program, launched in 2013, was the first PharmD/MD program in the United States and is considered a model for preparing expert leaders in healthcare policy, research, and clinical settings. To date, 45 students have participated in the program.

“Rutgers continues to train the finest pharmacists and pharmaceutical scientists in the world, with the ultimate goal of improving the human condition through science, research, and application,” Dr. Mario said. “The delivery of quality care to patients continues to become increasingly interdisciplinary. The PharmD/MD program ensures that physicians have peers who are trained in pharmacy to facilitate the best outcomes for all patients.”

Dr. Mario and The Mario Family Foundation have established and supported numerous programs in the school, including The Mario Family Foundation Tuition Assistance Fund established in 2020 to support undergraduate and graduate students who have been directly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This is a real game changer in that it will provide support to future healthcare innovators that will use the strengths of both professions and become change agents in pharmacy and medicine,” said Joseph Barone, dean at the Rutgers Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy.

Applications to the program for the fall semester are due the first week of January 2022. Those selected will matriculate into Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School after completing the PharmD program and will not be required to take the MCAT exam generally used for medical school applications.

Graduates of the program have gone on to residencies at nationally recognized medical institutions such as Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, UCLA Medical Center, University of Massachusetts Medical School, and Yale-New Haven Hospital. These impressive residency placements clearly demonstrate the impact the Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy and Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences are having on the trajectories of our future healthcare leaders.