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College of Pharmacy launches genome blog

Jan 10, 2012

The Raabe College of Pharmacy at Ohio Northern University is embarking on a significant educational and scientific journey to keep students and the pharmacy profession on the leading edge of medical advances by focusing on pharmacogenomics education. Within its curriculum and beyond, the college connects the newest information regarding genetic variation (in how people “handle” and are affected by drugs) to the practice of pharmacy. The college is leading the way by integrating pharmacogenomics into medication therapy management (MTM).

“Pharmacogenomics and personalized medicine are the future of the pharmacy profession, and Ohio Northern is the only school to put a six-year emphasis on pharmacogenetic training,” says Dr. Jon E. Sprague, dean of the college. “Our pharmacy curriculum includes a broad approach as students are introduced to pharmacogenomics, the influence of genetic variation on drug action and personalized medicine in their first semester at ONU.”

Subsequently, students learn the science and application as they look at DNA to identify the activity of a specific drug-metabolizing enzyme. These applications are expanded throughout the curriculum as students study specific therapeutic areas and learn about the ever-expanding number of drugs for which genetic variation plays a significant role.

More than a decade ago, the Human Genome Project, to sequence the human DNA, was completed. One of the “off-shoots” of the project was the start of direct-to-consumer personal genome companies, where an individual can receive their personal DNA information. This has prompted a number of questions from ethical, legal, business and health care standpoints.

“As the health care system continues to evolve and utilize the information provided by the Human Genome Project, we all will need to learn what our DNA is saying,” said Dr. David Kisor, professor of pharmacokinetics and chair of the Department of Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Sciences at Ohio Northern.

To address some of these questions, Ohio Northern faculty from the colleges of Arts & Sciences, Law, Business Administration and Pharmacy have collaborated to offer a spring semester elective course starting on Jan. 11, Personal Genome Evaluation. Faculty members from Anderson (S.C.) University and Clemson University also provided input. While the course will be available for academic credit to ONU students, the blog and Twitter (@pgxcheck) portions of the course are publicly available. “Throughout this blog, individuals will be introduced to personal genome information, something society will certainly encounter as health care moves forward,” said Kisor, who led the development of the new course and will be monitoring the blog and Twitter feed.

“In history, we rarely have the opportunity to be part of something that promises to profoundly change our world. In medicine, in pharmacy, it is genomics. Ohio Northern’s students understand this is the future of our profession and pharmacogenomics will lead our profession to greater, positive change.”

Additionally, students from five other universities are participating in ONU’s course.

The Raabe College of Pharmacy also is the only college of pharmacy in the country that belongs to the Personalized Medicine Coalition (PMC), an interdisciplinary organization leading the way in the implementation of personalized medicine in the U.S. Launched in 2004 to educate the public and policymakers and to promote new ways of thinking about health care, PMC represents a broad spectrum of more than 200 academic, industry, patient, provider and payer communities. According to PMC, “High on the list of breakthroughs expected to transform medicine is personalized medicine – the use of new methods of molecular analysis to better manage a patient’s disease or predisposition to disease. Personalized medicine is likely to change the way drugs are developed and medicine is prescribed.”

Other Ohio Northern team members include Dr. Jeffery Talbot, assistant professor of pharmacology at ONU, and Dr. Michael Kane, visiting research scientist at ONU and associate professor in Purdue University’s Department of Computer and Information Technology.Kane is participating in a yearlong sabbatical at Ohio Northern University’s College of Pharmacy and also serves as the lead genomic scientist in the Bindley Bioscience Center at Purdue’s Discovery Park, with applied expertise in genomics and biomedical informatics.

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