Alumni Awards Spotlight: Ramesh Upadhyayula, BPharm, RPh, APh

Upadhyayula will receive the Honorary Alumni Award at the 2024 USC Mann School’s Alumni Awards Gala on February 25.

Meet Ramesh Upadhyayula, BPharm, RPh, APh, founder, CEO and director of pharmacy for Desert Hospital Outpatient Pharmacy, where he led the development of its first accredited PGY1 ambulatory care residency program. Upadhyayula, who will receive the 2024 Honorary Alumni Award at the upcoming USC Mann Alumni Awards Gala, is also a pain management practitioner at the Comprehensive Cancer Center at Desert Regional Hospital in Palm Springs, Calif.

In a few sentences, please describe your career trajectory, including your current work. What are you most proud of in your career so far?

I came to the United States in 1987 and joined the USC School of Pharmacy for a bridge program to complete the deficiencies for the Pharmacy License Exam. After licensure, I worked as a retail pharmacist for nine years; as a pharmacist, I taught OTC and ethics classes at the school. In 1996, I acquired our first retail pharmacy. It was not until I acquired our Desert Hospital Outpatient Pharmacy that I got a break into the clinical arena.

It all started as a simple Meds to Beds Program for congestive heart failure (CHF) patients and quickly escalated to managing CHF patients at the post-discharge clinic. At the same time, we started working with Dr. Steve Chen to enhance our clinical skills. I went through the California Right Meds Collaborative for advanced practice pharmacist training, received my APh license, and then started the PGY1 Ambulatory Health Residency Program. We developed the program to be a training site for residents in transition of care, cardiology, primary care, oncology and pain management. With an average of four residents, our PGY1 residency has been going strong over four years.

What originally attracted you to your field? Any particular moment(s) that made you stop and think, “This is the path I want to take?

The idea that pharmacists could be a part of the treatment team excited me to train further to be in that space. 

What advice do you have for students who may be interested in following a similar path to yours?

The path to the future of pharmacy practice is very clear. Intense clinical training in schools prepares students for a future different from dispensing in the retail industry. Keep up the clinical skills and practice that skill down to a retail level to improve the health outcomes of your patients because outpatient ambulatory health practice is much closer to reality than you think, and that will be a payable event.

Why do you think students should consider attending the USC Mann School?

Both my son (Sai Upadhyayula, PharmD ’17) and I have attended USC. I feel that our students are better prepared clinically, and upon graduation, they are ready to face real-world clinical challenges. Also, the strong USC alumni support in every field of pharmacy practice gives our students better recognition and opportunities.

What does the phrase “Trojan Family” mean to you?

Courage to create a change, courage to lead a change and courage to be a change.

For more information or to purchase tickets, visit the 2024 USC Mann Alumni Awards Gala event website or contact Cheryl Stanovich, chief development officer, at