Mahtab Jafari UCSF

“Do not take grad school for granted,” she tells them. “You will be surrounded by many other gifted students. Take advantage of every moment because they don’t come back.” 

Jafari, a professor and vice chair of the UC Irvine Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, founded the first UC undergraduate major in Pharmaceutical Sciences. This unique degree prepares students for graduate studies in pharmacy, medicine, PhD programs, and other health-related careers and sets them on an academic learning path that Jafari knows well.

She is passionate about mentoring the next generation – especially women and minorities – and giving them the skills to pursue leadership positions in health care. 

“Every time one of my students is accepted at a top graduate school, I feel rewarded,” Jafari says.

Moreover, her basic science research focuses on longevity and the investigation of botanical extracts that extend the life span and improve the “health span” – a holistic measure of an organism’s life that encompasses not only its life span but also other factors that more clearly define its state of health; in other words, the span of time that an organism stays healthy, not just alive. Jafari, who calls this study “health span pharmacology,” uses fruit flies in her lab as a model system for discovering the molecular mechanism of a number of botanicals including Rhodiola rosea, an adaptogenic plant believed to contain anti-aging properties.

Jafari thinks beyond just academic success for her students. Recently, she started a new course at UC Irvine called Life 101 to help students learn to manage stress and adopt healthy lifestyle choices. The course, which is offered in the classroom and online, has proven beneficial in helping young people develop healthy habits and receive peer support through an online forum. So far, approximately 1,500 students have taken Life 101. Topics covered include stress management, emotional intelligence, financial management, nutrition, and exercise. Jafari hopes the course eventually will become available to all UC undergraduates.

For Jafari, teaching is more than just reaching the end of the course. 

“Being a good teacher means caring,” she says. “Our curriculum at UC Irvine prepares students to become lifelong learners, critical thinkers, problem solvers, team players, and wellness advocates.”

Dr. Jafari was awarded an inaugural UCSF Campaign Alumni Award in "The Dedicated" category. This award recognizes those who have devoted their careers to inspiring the next generation of scientists and health care providers. 

Help to support the next generation of UCSF pharmacists.
Make A Gift