KINGSTON, R.I. — Oct. 18, 2023 — The University of Rhode Island has named Kerry LaPlante, an internationally recognized expert in antimicrobial resistance and infectious diseases, as the next dean of the College of Pharmacy. LaPlante, who currently serves as department chair and professor of pharmacy at URI, becomes the first female dean of the pharmacy college.
“We are excited that Kerry will assume this new leadership position at the University,” said Barbara E. Wolfe, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs at URI. “Kerry is a longstanding and valued member of our URI community. But her considerable contributions stretch far beyond our campuses. She is a leading voice on health care and policy in our state, and her broad research and clinical experiences contribute to a global conversation and understanding of antibiotics and infectious diseases.”
The eighth dean of the College of Pharmacy, LaPlante succeeds Paul Larrat, who led the college for more than a decade and earlier this year announced his intent to return to the faculty. “I want to thank Paul for his dedicated, selfless leadership as dean of the college and for helping to solidify the College of Pharmacy’s standing as a national leader,” Wolfe said.
LaPlante’s appointment follows a comprehensive and competitive national search. Her tenure will commence on Jan. 2, 2024.
A licensed clinical pharmacist, LaPlante is an internationally recognized expert on antibiotic use, antimicrobial resistance, and health policy implementation. Over the course of her clinical and scientific career, she has published more than 140 peer-reviewed research articles, and she has received uninterrupted funding from more than 30 successfully awarded research grants—totaling more than $21 million—as principal or co-investigator from the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and research divisions in the pharmaceutical industry.
Her foremost research expertise is in infectious diseases, specifically in the treatment and prevention of multiple drug resistant bacteria, including Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and related infections. The overall goal of her research and clinical work is to improve the health of the community, with the focus always on the patient, she said.
She is known for her enthusiasm and dedication to inspiring students, and nurturing leadership aspirations, LaPlante said her vision for the college centers around fostering an environment of inclusivity, diversity, and limitless opportunities.
“Pharmacists, as the medication and safety experts in health care, play a critical role in a patient’s health and well-being,” she said. “The future of pharmacy practice and pharmaceutical sciences represents endless opportunities where innovation, compassion and expertise should come together to redefine health care. As dean, I intend to carry on the tradition of excellence in education and research that has long been established in our college, making groundbreaking discoveries and preparing the next generation of healthcare leaders.”
LaPlante joined URI in 2004 as associate professor of pharmacy, rising to full tenured professor in 2015. She was named pharmacy practice chair in 2020, and has played a prominent role in expanding and enhancing the college’s research program, which is ranked among the top 10 percent in funding among pharmacy colleges in the nation. URI boasts the leading pharmacy school in New England in terms of research funding.
“I’m thrilled to be passing the baton to Kerry,” Larrat said. “She has been a wonderful colleague, thoughtful leader, committed collaborator and good friend over many years. I look forward to the continued success of our college under her guidance.”
LaPlante, a Buffalo, New York, native, discovered her passion for pharmacy while working at a local independent pharmacy. She serves as director of the Infectious Diseases Research Program at the Providence VA Medical Center, and as an infectious diseases pharmacotherapy specialist at the VA, as well as an adjunct professor of infectious diseases at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University. She is chair of the Rhode Island Department of Health’s Antimicrobial Stewardship and Environmental Task Force, where she leads the Antimicrobial Stewardship Expansion Initiative across acute care, long-term care and urgent care facilities throughout the state. She is an adviser to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the PEW Research Center and the Joint Commission, which accredits and certifies healthcare organizations across the country.
LaPlante was a director of the Pharmacology Core for the Rhode Island NIH-COBRE Center for Antimicrobial Resistance and Therapeutic Discovery; a member of the NIH-NIAID Antimicrobial Resistance Leadership Group; an elected Fellow of the Infectious Diseases Society of America and the American College of Clinical Pharmacy; and former president of the Society of Infectious Diseases Pharmacists (SIDP). She directs a training fellowship at the Providence Veterans Affairs Health Care System; and is a vice president of Making a Difference in Infectious Diseases (MAD-ID), a national non-profit health organization; and serves as associate editor of the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases.
As a prominent leader in health care policy locally and globally, LaPlante played an important public role during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and was appointed to the COVID-19 vaccine subcommittee by the governor of Rhode Island.
LaPlante earned her Doctor of Pharmacy degree from Wayne State University’s Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences in Detroit MI, and her bachelor’s degree in biology from Canisius University in Buffalo NY.