Advancing graduate studies and research
A Q&A session with former Dean of Pharmacy Dr. Pierre Zalloua who was recently appointed dean of Graduate Studies and Research.
On October 1, LAU appointed Dr. Pierre Zalloua, formerly dean of the School of Pharmacy, as dean of Graduate Studies and Research. Zalloua is also professor of Genetics and assistant dean for Research at the Gilbert and Rose-Marie Chagoury School of Medicine. One of the region’s most accomplished geneticists, Zalloua is also a Lown Scholar and adjunct professor at Harvard University.
The Dean of Research and Graduate Studies is a post that has been dormant for a number of years. Why did LAU re-establish it?
Dr. Zalloua: The LAU Strategic Plan 2011-2016 calls for a reinvigorated position to propel our graduate studies to the next level of excellence. As we strive to offer programs that address gaps in the market, we undertook market research to get a better idea of what the region is in need of. But in order to have effective graduate studies, you need research infrastructure. We want to have a hub for research at LAU, which the dean position should help create.
So is LAU becoming a research-based university?
Dr. Zalloua: While we want research to become a trademark of LAU, we are not a research institution but a teaching institution with major research aspirations. We pride ourselves on the student-centered way we teach and want to maintain this philosophy.
What will your position entail?
Dr. Zalloua: I will work to harmonize existing graduate programs and create new ones tailored to the needs of the region and our community. The university aims to offer a select number of specialized programs that will be of immediate benefit to the community. We will work with stakeholders across LAU to develop multidisciplinary courses that build on our existing expertise.
The other aspect of the role will be to develop the necessary infrastructure to streamline research with clear objectives, phases and benchmarks.
How challenging is it to conduct research in the Arab world and how can LAU help redress the shortcoming in regional research?
Dr. Zalloua: The majority of universities in the Arab world are teaching universities that lack the financial support to conduct research. In many Western countries a substantial amount of the national GDP goes to research, whereas here it’s trivial. For example, the Arab world combined produces dramatically fewer patents than Pakistan every year.
With this dean’s position, LAU is trying to shift the culture. We will assist researchers in finding funding bodies, help them apply to competitive funds and support them in writing competitive proposals. We believe that offering serious graduate programs will lead to the development of quality research.