URI pharmacy Dean Kerry LaPlante wins Providence Business News’ 2024 leaders’ award

LaPlante is the latest URI representative to win the prestigious award

KINGSTON, R.I. — July 10, 2024 — University of Rhode Island College of Pharmacy Dean Kerry LaPlante has been named recipient of the 2024 PBN Leaders and Achievers award by Providence Business News, the publication announced this week. The annual program recognizes honorees with long-standing commitment to the Rhode Island business community and a sustained demonstration of leading others, community service and mentoring.

LaPlante will be recognized at an event on Aug. 25 along with other recipients noted for “their leadership, achievements and longstanding commitment to the business community.” Among the industries the honorees represent are the health care, education, nonprofit, financial services, hospitality, legal, military and technology sectors.

“Dean LaPlante’s long-standing commitment to the pharmacy community, exemplary leadership, and unwavering dedication to mentoring and community service have truly set her apart,” the PBN award reads. “Her passion for the future of pharmacy and her relentless support for student success continue to inspire and shape the next generation of leaders in the field. We are incredibly proud to celebrate her remarkable achievements and continued impact.”

LaPlante is the latest URI representative to receive the award in recent years, following Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Barbara Wolfe and URI Research Foundation Executive Director Christian Cowan, who were both honored last year. LaPlante’s predecessor, former pharmacy Dean Paul Larrat, was recognized in 2019.

“I am incredibly honored to receive the 2024 PBN Leaders and Achievers award,” LaPlante said. “This recognition is a testament to the collective efforts of our College of Pharmacy community. Our commitment to placing the patient first, whether through nationally recognized research or the amazing and caring pharmacists we train, drives us forward. I am proud to be part of such a dedicated team, and together, we will continue to inspire and shape the future of pharmacy through leadership, mentoring, and community service.”

LaPlante—a licensed clinical pharmacist and internationally recognized expert on antibiotic use, antimicrobial resistance, and health policy implementation—was named the eighth dean of the college in January when Larrat returned to the faculty ranks after serving in the role for more than a decade.

In her six-plus months at the helm, LaPlante has overseen a continuing expansion of the college’s educational offerings and research prowess. The American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy recently ranked URI among the top 10 percent in the nation in research funding among all pharmacy schools, with more than $21 million in funding over the last year. LaPlante has overseen the establishment of a research hub in Providence in partnership with the Veterans Administration Medical Center, and helped lead the college through a comprehensive review process that resulted in an extension of its full accreditation through 2032.

Over the course of her clinical and scientific career, LaPlante 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. 

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 leads all pharmacy schools in New England in research funding.