Precision medicine is becoming engrained in health care, which is why two pharmacy students recently completed a pharmacogenomics certificate program from the Center for Human Genetics at Marshfield Clinic Research Institute.

Pharmacogenomics is a new area of medicine that takes a patient’s genetic variants into account before a physician prescribes or a pharmacist dispenses a medication.

This pilot program was completed over two weeks and taught the third-year pharmacy students about pharmacogenomics, how precision medicine fits into pharmacy and how to interpret pharmacogenomics results.

“We need to teach more pharmacists how to take this personalized information about genetics and use it to make better drug recommendations,” said Emili Leary, research project pharmacist at Human Genetics.

Pharmacists are uniquely positioned to help providers and patients choose medications that will work best for their specific DNA.

“Some individuals with specific genetic variants may not respond completely to a certain drug therapy, and other people with certain genetic variants may have an adverse drug reaction based on their own genetics,” said Murray Brilliant, Ph.D., director of Human Genetics.

After its first year, the pharmacogenomics certificate program was considered a success.

“We wanted to provide our learners with additional skills once they graduate and someone approaches them about pharmacogenomics,” said Leary. “Our goal is to make this a more permanent education feature here at Marshfield Clinic Health System, and expand our offering to other health care professionals.”

Getting ready for the future

This pilot program was just the beginning at Marshfield Clinic Health System, as there are plans to implement pharmacogenomics across the system.

Future possibilities include training Health System pharmacists as well as other health care professionals about pharmacogenomics and implementing genetic information into our prescribing software.

Many universities and professional pharmacy organizations are beginning to see the need as well, with courses and certificate programs now being offered across the country for pharmacists.

As the need for pharmacogenomics increases, Brilliant sees this need as something coming sooner rather than later, “The All of Us Research Program will be returning some pharmacogenomics results, so we would like our own physicians and pharmacists to better understand that, as well as physicians and pharmacists across the nation.”