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UF Precision Medicine Conference draws attention to pharmacy’s role in precision medicine

Julie Johnson, Pharm.D., delivered a keynote address.

Medical professionals, educators and trainees learned at the 2017 UF Precision Medicine Conference how they can lead efforts to apply the emerging field of pharmacogenomics into their daily practice. The three-day conference was hosted by the University of Florida College of Pharmacy and held March 8-10, at the Caribe Royale Hotel and Convention Center in Orlando.

In its second year, the event attracted more than 155 attendees from 32 states and five countries. Attendees represented a wide-range of pharmacogenomics interest areas, including hospital and community practice, education, research and industry.

“For the second year in a row, this conference has attracted a diverse group of attendees that reflects the broad interest in precision medicine,” said Kristin Weitzel, Pharm.D., a clinical associate professor of pharmacotherapy and translational research at UF and associate director of the UF Health Personalized Medicine Program. “Pharmacists and others committed to advancing pharmacogenomics and precision medicine seek knowledge and understanding of how this field can improve the way drugs are administered to patients and their role in the process.”

The conference offered a breadth of topics, from building a clinical pharmacogenomics team to securing reimbursement for testing. National precision medicine experts from 12 different institutions led 30 different sessions during the conference.

Among the presenters were four faculty and a postdoctoral pharmacy fellow from the University of Florida College of Pharmacy’s Center for Pharmacogenomics. Recognized for being one of the leading institutions nationally in moving pharmacogenomics discoveries into patient care, the UF presenters shared their experiences in bringing together a multidisciplinary team to implement precision medicine at UF Health. In addition, they highlighted research initiatives that are building evidence for future clinical implementations.

Julie Johnson, Pharm.D., dean and distinguished professor of the UF College of Pharmacy, delivered the opening keynote address and shared the latest advancements in implementing pharmacogenomics into clinical practice, and UF’s role in leading research initiatives aimed at achieving greater adoption of pharmcogenomic-guided therapy. Among the many topics highlighted were the importance of clinical decision support tools in the electronic health record to guide genotype-tailored decision making and an explanation of the latest warfarin clinical guidelines that researchers at the UF College of Pharmacy helped develop. She concluded by encouraging attendees to take advantage of the substantial opportunities that exist for greater adoption of pharmacogenomics in patient care at their respective institutions.

“You are here because you believe precision medicine is the future,” Johnson said. “Pharmacogenomics is among the most actionable elements in the precision medicine space, and pharmacists are positioned to lead this effort.”

The conference featured a pharmacogenomics certificate program, a poster session, case studies and the opportunity for attendees to undergo personal genotyping for selected pharmacogenomic variants and apply their own genetic information to solve patient cases during the program.

Conference organizers are already making plans for the third annual UF Precision Medicine Conference to be held in the spring of 2018. They want to expand the programming to appeal to more disciplines involved with precision medicine research and implementation.