The dawn of pharmacogenomics and precision medicine is upon us providing new individualized treatments to advance patient care. The Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW) School of Pharmacy hosted its second annual Pharmacy Symposium on the topic of the role of Pharmacogenomics in Precision Medicine in August. The symposium was attended by over 150 healthcare professionals and students including the inaugural School of Pharmacy class.
George MacKinnon III, PhD, MS, RPh, FASHP, School of Pharmacy Founding Dean and Internal Advisory Board Member of the MCW Genomic Science and Precision Medicine Center (GSPMC), lead off the symposium welcoming all attendees, and challenging providers and researchers to take an interprofessional approach to bridging genomic sciences with clinical approaches to patient care.
“Precision medicine is a revolution which is seeking to diagnose, treat, and prevent with precision. We are impacting the life of patients almost everyday with precision medicine,” Raul Urrutia, MD, shared at the event. Dr. Urrutia is the new director of the GSPMC at MCW.
Other MCW speakers included Ulrich Broeckel, MD, associate director pharmacogenomics of the GSPMC, chief-section of genomic pediatrics and professor of pediatrics, and Mahfoud Assem, PharmD, PhD, associate professor of biopharmaceutics in the MCW School of Pharmacy.
Mark Dunnenberger, PharmD, BCPS, director of pharmacogenomics in the Center for Molecular Medicine at NorthShore University Health System in Illinois and Krista Bohlen, PharmD, RPh, director of personalized pharmaceutical medicine at Avera McKennan Hospital in South Dakota were invited national pharmacy leaders to speak at the Symposium.
Pharmacogenomics is the application of how a person’s DNA affects their body’s response to medications. Currently, clinicians are using a standard of care to treat patients with similar conditions, with medications available in a “one-size-fits-all” format. Many patients respond to these medications, however some patients will have no therapeutic benefit or experience adverse events and toxicities. Genetic testing can identify these patients before they are prescribed the medication, providing access to personalized treatments with better outcomes, reduced side effects, and more cost-efficient care.
“We really are trying to improve our treatment success and reduce our risk of those side effects and those adverse effects that really impact patients,” said Dr. Bohlen, “I applaud Medical College of Wisconsin here for starting a pharmacy school with having a strong emphasis on pharmacogenomics so we’ll have more providers ready and willing and able to help our entire United States health system.”
Pharmacogenomics is an integral part of the MCW School of Pharmacy doctor of pharmacy (PharmD) curriculum. “One of the areas we looked to focus on as we’ve developed our curriculum to educate the pharmacist of the future is manage medications for personalized outcomes, “ said Dr. MacKinnon. The School of Pharmacy will also be partnering with the GSPMC at MCW, providing additional educational opportunities in the areas of genomic sciences and pharmacogenomics. “The Genomic Science and Precision Medicine Center has a very active pharmacogenomics program,” said Dr. Urrutia, “We are in close collaboration with the Pharmacy School to be able to bring it to a larger population not only at MCW but in the area.”
The field of pharmacogenomics and precision medicine may provide future exciting prospects for pharmacy students as well. “One of the things I want to illustrate to pharmacy students is the job you might take when you graduate or when you finish your training may not even exist today. When I started pharmacy school in 2008, nobody was doing clinical pharmacogenomics outside of a research setting. The job that I have today didn’t exist.” Dr. Dunnenberger shared with the students at the event.