Pharmacogenetics (PGx) is a growing field of research and scholarship that promises to have important applications in the clinic, particularly in relation to individualization of drug therapy. Education in PGx in health professional schools, however, appears to be lagging behind the rapid advances in research. In this paper, we aim at assessing the current PGx teaching provided and recommend a cost effective way of improving it. We first review the current status of PGx teaching around the world as reported in the literature. We note the paucity of such reports in general, and their near total absence from institutions in low and middle-income countries (LMICs). We then elaborate on our experience at the American University of Beiruts Faculty of Medicine (AUBFM), where a longitudinal approach was taken to introduce the concepts and develop the skills related to PGx. In addition, we report on our use of the innovative, cost effective and highly interactive Team Based Learning (TBL) method of teaching PGx, which emphasizes individual accountability, team work, active learning and problem solving. We conclude by proposing approaches, resources and general recommendations for implementing educational activities in PGx that are particularly, but not exclusively, relevant for institutions in the LMICs. Lastly, we suggest that as with health, education needs are global but implementation is always local. This means the future education efforts in pharmacogenomics and personalized medicine need to adopt a sociological approach whereby local and regional nuances that facilitate or hinder learning and knowledge uptake are also taken into account.
Keywords: Education, global public health, low and middle-income countries, LMICs, pharmacogenetics, sociology of education, team based learning, Pharmacy Schools, Medical Schools, Thiopurine methyltransferase (TPMT), Ethics of Pharmacogenetics
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Published on: 01 March, 2012
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