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November 20, 2015

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Thomas Smith, assistant professor of pharmacy practice (psychiatry) and Diane Calinski, assistant professor of pharmaceutical sciences, served on the team that created the new master’s degree in pharmacogenomics at Manchester. Photo by Clay Lomneth.

Pharmacogenomics: MU’s New 1-Year Master Degree

Stratton Smith

A sick, coughing, aching boy begs the doctors, physicians, his other healthcare professionals to make the pain and the terrible symptoms go away. Taking medication after medication just isn’t working. Nothing seems to be working. Pharmacogenomics comes in to save the day.

Pharmacogenomics is the study of how genes affect a person’s response to drugs, and creating a more specific and useful drug for an individual.

Manchester University’s College of Pharmacy, Natural & Health Sciences this week announced a one-year Master of Pharmacogenomics degree – the first such program in the nation.

Pharmacogenomics can help meld therapeutic care among disciplines, such as cardiology and psychiatry, said Raylene Rospond, Pharm.D., MU vice president for institutional effectiveness and dean of the College of Pharmacy, Natural & Health Sciences. The science can dramatically affect cancer treatment, especially since 75 percent of patients don’t respond to the initial prescribed medication.

Tuition and fees are $32,000 for the intense one-year program. Starting salaries for pharmacogenomics are in the mid-$40,000 range. Manchester will base the new degree in its Fort Wayne campus, home to the Pharmacy program.

“The Master of Science in Pharmacogenomics Program is designed for individuals with an undergraduate science degree or a professional degree in health care or health sciences,” said David Kisor, Pharm.D., Pharmacogenomics Program director at MU. “Manchester’s program offers individuals a pathway to this transformative field of medicine.”

Junior biochemistry major Stephanie Wheeler is interested in the new degree. “I have always had a passion for genetics,” said Wheeler, of Pierceton, Indiana. “I know that I want to specialize in working with genetics or medicine. This is the perfect blend of the two.

“I plan to continue my education with some sort of professional program and this is another option for me.” Students who have undergraduate degrees in biology, chemistry or other sciences or are on the path to a doctorate in pharmacy may apply for the program.

MU expects to enroll eight to 12 students, Rospond said.