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UMB Holds Interdisciplinary Seminar on Pharmacoepidemiology

More than 70 students and faculty members representing all of the schools at the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) attended the university's first interdisciplinary seminar on pharmacepidemiology.

A pediatrician whose research has influenced global health policy gave the address, "Not Quite What They Were Planning: Evaluating Unintended Consequences of Prescription Medications." William Cooper, MD, MPH is the Cornelius Vanderbilt Professor of Pediatrics and Health Policy at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn.

The seminar was intended to foster learning and research across disciplines, in keeping with UMB's focus on interprofessional education (IPE). The largest contingent was from the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy (SOP), whose students and faculty played key roles in hosting Cooper during his visit to Baltimore. The School of Medicine and the School of Nursing (SON) were also well represented. Shown in the photo above with Cooper, left, is SON student Matthew Maizels.

The April 16 event was presented by the UMB student chapter of the International Society for Pharmacoepidemiology (ISPE), whose members planned and organized all aspects. The chapter's faculty advisers include SOP faculty members Julie Zito, BSPharm, PhD, professor, and Susan dosReis, BSPharm, PhD, associate professor, both of Pharmaceutical Health Services Research .

After joking about the imposing name of the topic featured in the seminar and his own specialty -- pharmacoepidemiology -- Cooper noted its inclusive nature. Multiple practitioners and scholars become part of a larger whole when their observations and findings are disseminated and bring about change in health care policy and clinical practice.

Cooper and his colleagues were at the heart of one such crucial change, which resulted from their 2006 publication of a study that found major congenital malformations in infants whose mothers took ACE inhibitors during pregnancy. The work led to revised guidelines for prescribing blood-pressure medications to childbearing women.

In welcoming Cooper to Baltimore, UMB President Jay A. Perman, MD, spoke of Cooper's findings and their impact while reminding the audience that he speaks as a fellow pediatrician. Perman called the study "an outstanding example of how one case in pediatric practice can be translated into a population health framework for research."

Perman suggested that students envision making similar contributions in their own fields in the future. Gazing at those seated in the SON lecture hall, he said he was delighted to see many schools represented at the inaugural campus-wide address. "This is working," he said, referring to the university's IPE effort.

Jane M. Kirschling, PhD, RN, FAAN, dean of the SON and director of UMB's Center for interprofessional Education was among the IPE leaders in attendance. SOP Dean Natalie D. Eddington, PhD, was unable to be present. However Zito read a statement on her behalf.

The dean's comments highlighted pharmacoepidemiology as a key biomedical science. She stated: "The issue of unintended consequences of prescription medications is one that certainly the faculty, staff, and students at the School of Pharmacy confront on a daily basis, but it is a topic that all of us as health care and human services professionals should be concerned about. All of us-- pharmacists, nurses, physicians, dentists, lawyers, and social workers-- play a role in helping our patients and clients get the most benefit from their medications. And it requires that all of us work collaboratively to ensure the safe use of these medications."

In his presentation, Cooper spoke of the importance of "our collective work together as nurses, pharmacists, physicians, and attorneys," among other disciplines, and urged listeners to strive "to make a difference in all those things to which we each bring a passion."

He shared a pivotal moment in his own career, when a lifelong quest to spare the vulnerable arose from a case that shook him during his residency at a Cincinnati hospital. A 2-month old infant had starved to death while being fed nothing but water during three days of neglect. "It set me on a path to not let that happen," he said.

The path eventually led Cooper to delve into the roots of adverse outcomes for vulnerable patients in many different circumstances. In his role as a pharmacoepidemiologist, the unifying element is to reveal and quantify any harm caused unexpectedly by prescribed medications.

Because so few medications are studied in children and pregnant women, the consequences of drug therapies for these patients are among the least understood, he said.

To tease out results that may take years to manifest themselves, he said, his research methodology at Vanderbilt utilizes large statewide databases and incorporates data from several different health plans from across the nation.

UMB's chapter of the pharmacoepidemiology society has similar interests. "We're big data people," said Mehmet Burcu, MS, who as a member was a leading organizer of the event. In his remarks, Burcu said the chapter "welcomes any school, any program, any department."

The event, which included a question and answer session, was followed by a reception hosted by the chapter. Burcu presented a plaque to Cooper, who stands seventh from left in the photo below with faculty advisers and student members from the SOP. Shown left to right are dos Reis; Melissa Ross; Dinci Pennap; Patience Moyo; Xinyi Ng; Burcu; Cooper; Xian Shen; Bilal Khokhar; Mindy Tai; Jane Huang; and Zito.


ISPE with Dr. Cooper


Posting Date: 04/24/2014
Contact Name: Patricia Fanning
Contact Phone: 410-706-7946
Contact Email: pfanning@umaryland.edu