Celebrating Outstanding Leaders: 2024 USC Mann Alumni Awards Gala

On Sunday, Feb. 25, 2024, nearly 300 guests celebrated the latest recipients of the USC Mann School’s Alumni Awards. The gala—and a live auction—was held at Westdrift Manhattan Beach.

The night began with a special performance by The Spirit of Troy, USC’s Trojan Marching band, followed by welcome remarks by Dean Vassilios Papadopoulos. After the presentation of eight awards, the event concluded with a live performance from the SoCal VoCals, USC’s oldest a capella group.

Meet the recipients of the 2024 USC Mann School Alumni Awards

Robert Popovian, PharmD ’93, MS ’96, was presented with the Dean’s Medallion Award. He founded the strategic consulting firm Conquest Advisors and serves as chief science policy officer for the Global Healthy Living Foundation. Popovian is also senior health policy fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute and visiting health policy fellow at the Pioneer Institute. He previously served as vice president, U.S. government relations, at Pfizer.

Ramesh Upadhyayula, BPharm, RPh, APh, received the Honorary Alumni Award. He is the founder, CEO and director of pharmacy for Desert Hospital Outpatient Pharmacy Ambulatory Health, where he led development of its first accredited PGY1 ambulatory care residency program. He is also a pain management practitioner at the Comprehensive Cancer Center at Desert Regional Hospital in Palm Springs, Calif.

Eric Forssen, PharmD ’77, PhD ’81, received the Research Achievement Award. His work has been vital to developing effective therapies and drug-delivery systems for conditions including cancer. He joined the startup that became NeXtar, which later merged with Gilead. Forssen then worked in the drug-delivery group at Allergan. He has served as a volunteer faculty member at the Mann School for nearly 35 years. 

Michael Pazirandeh, PharmD ’11received the Young Alumni Award. He is principal medical scientist for managed care and government accounts at Gilead Sciences, where he conducts health economics and outcomes research. He has also held key roles in the field at Seagen, Bristol Myers Squibb and Blue Shield of California.

Mary Ellen Cosenza, PhD, MS ’08, received the Regulatory Science Award. She is president of MEC Regulatory & Toxicology Consulting LLC. During a 20-year tenure at Amgen, she led its U.S. Regulatory Department and International Emerging Markets Regulatory Department and was an executive director of Global Regulatory Affairs and Safety. She also served as Amgen’s senior director of toxicology.

Annie Ogostalick, PharmD ’97, MS ’00, received the Pharmaceutical Health Economics Award. She serves as field director of Medical Outcomes Science Liaisons at AbbVie. She is also a national clinical executive for Abbott Labs. Her previous experience includes being team leader of outcomes liaisons at Eli Lilly.

Steven Dohi, PharmD ’84, was presented with the Distinguished Alumni Award. He has been director of pharmacy services for L.A. General Medical Center since 2018. Prior to that, he held the same title at San Gabriel Valley Medical Center and has also served as pharmacy director for City of Hope.

Raffi Svadjian, PharmD ’03, MBA, was honored with the Community Service Award. As executive director of community pharmacies, he heads operations for the existing USC Pharmacy locations as well as the forthcoming USC South Los Angeles Pharmacy. He is also an assistant professor of clinical pharmacy at the school and previously served as senior director of the Keck Medicine of USC Specialty Pharmacy.

2024 Alumni Awards Gala
USC Mann School honors eight outstanding leaders at the 2024 Alumni Awards Gala. (Photo by Rey Obrero)

Learn more about USC Mann School’s annual Alumni Awards Gala at mann.usc.edu/gala. Questions? Contact Cheryl Stanovich, chief development officer, at stanovic@usc.edu.