Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

Introducing Pharmacy Students to Pharmacogenomic Analysis

Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

Introducing Pharmacy Students to Pharmacogenomic Analysis

Article excerpt


The Human Genome Project has catalyzed the rapid increase in the wealth of knowledge on how genetic background modulates the individual's response to drug therapy. In the decades to come, pharmacotherapy based on an individual's genetic profile will significantly change the manner in which drugs are prescribed and administered. The key to such personalized medicine is pharmacogenomics, a discipline spanning classical pharmacology and human genetics. (1) While the ethical and social aspects of pharmacogenomics are vividly discussed in the biomedical community, the education of future medical professionals on the potential of pharmacogenomics and its implementation into clinical practice remains at a basic level. Knowledge about this emerging discipline will be essential for pharmacists to enhance therapeutic outcomes by maximizing efficacy and decreasing toxicity of drug therapy.

The 2002 Academic Affairs Committee of the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP) published a report identifying the need to include curricular outcomes relating to pharmacogenetics and pharmacogenomics in the pharmacy curriculum. (2) This Committee reviewed the Core Competencies in Genetics Essential for All Health Care Professionals developed by the National Coalition for Health Professional Education in Genetics (3) and published a subset of competencies that relate specifically to pharmacists. The 2004 Center for Advancement of Pharmacy Education (CAPE) educational outcomes for graduating pharmacists lists the ability to utilize knowledge of the biomedical sciences and emerging technologies to provide pharmaceutical care as a member of the health care team as a competency. In the 2007 Standards, the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE) has identified pharmacogenomics/ pharmacogenetics as a subject that should be included in the science foundation for pharmacy students. (4)

Despite a consensus among healthcare providers and academicians regarding the need to educate all healthcare students about the potential impact of pharmacogenomics on patient care, the coverage of this material in colleges of pharmacy is evolving slowly. Brock and colleagues surveyed curriculum committee chairpersons in 2001, of the 50 schools responding, 70% indicated that their curriculum dedicated 5 hours or less to the science of pharmacogenomics. (5) Sixty percent indicated that 2 hours or less were dedicated to practical applications, and 90% indicated a similar level of time devoted to the discussion of ethical considerations. Latif et al surveyed pharmacy school deans in 2004 and found that of the colleges responding, 78% taught pharmacogenetics in their curriculum. (6) In students' evaluations of a required 2-credit course on human genomics, pharmacogenomics, and bioinformatics offered at the University of Buffalo, their major criticism was that the topic lacked relevance to the current practice of pharmacy. (7)

To stimulate PharmD students' interest in the practical application of pharmacogenomics, a laboratory component was added to the didactic material covering drug metabolism and pharmacogenomics to the second-year Pharmaceutics III course at Temple University School of Pharmacy. The objectives of the laboratory, which was entitled "Pharmacogenetic Diversity of the Class of 2009" were: (1) to introduce students to the concepts and technologies of pharmacogenomics; (2) to demonstrate to the students the universal character of genetic variability in genes coding for drug-metabolizing enzymes, and (3) to demonstrate the importance of genetic analysis for practical pharmacotherapy.


In their second-year of the PharmD curriculum, students in the Pharmaceutics III course had already completed a course in biochemistry and had a strong foundation in medicinal chemistry and pharmacology. The students were well aware of the basic concepts of pharmacogenomics and prepared for the practical laboratory component added to this course. …

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