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Solving the puzzle of precision medicine at the 2020 UF Precision Medicine Conference

From solving the puzzle of better prescribing in the precision medicine era to overcoming barriers of widespread adoption, the 2020 University of Florida Precision Medicine Conference addressed many of the hot topics in clinical pharmacogenomics. The fifth annual event was held Feb. 20-22, at the UF Research and Academic Center in Orlando.

Peter H. O’Donnell, M.D., an associate professor of medicine at the University of Chicago, set the tone for the first day of the conference with his keynote address comparing the challenges of precision medicine implementation to a puzzle. O’Donnell’s presentation pieced together how physicians can use genetic test results to inform prescribing decisions, identify patient populations ideal for testing, determine who will pay for tests and discuss with patients the results of testing. He cited multiple studies from the University of Chicago, the University of Florida and other leading academic institutions who are trying to fit the precision medicine puzzle pieces together through evidence-based decision-making.

Peter H. O’Donnell, M.D., an associate professor of medicine at the University of Chicago, delivered the keynote address during the first day of the conference.
Peter H. O’Donnell, M.D., an associate professor of medicine at the University of Chicago, delivered the keynote address during the first day of the conference.

“The most important thing we can all do is keep showing evidence of value, as all of our patients will eventually be touched by pharmacogenomics in their lifetime of care,” O’Donnell said. “Occasionally we do find key pieces to putting the puzzle together, and that is what sustains us going forward.”

O’Donnell was one of nearly 30 speakers and moderators who filled the schedule for the three-day conference. The agenda covered a breadth of topics from getting started with precision medicine in a health system to FDA regulation of pharmacogenomics testing — with many presenters sharing real-world experiences and the latest research trends in the field.

The depth and breadth of topics is one attraction which brings attendees back to the conference year after year. Oliver Vranjkovic, Ph.D., works in the pharmacogenomics testing industry and made his second trip to the UF Precision Medicine Conference in 2020.

“It’s rare to find a conference as focused in pharmacogenomics as this one, and learn what is happening in the field as it relates to education, research, reimbursement and more,” Vranjkovic said. “All the top experts in precision medicine are here, and there are many opportunities to have conversations with them.”

More than 185 attendees representing various professions in health care, including pharmacists, physicians, genetic counselors, students and others participated in this year’s conference. Interest in the event stretched across the country, with attendees from nearly 30 states represented.

A networking reception and poster session concluded the first day of the conference. More than 25 abstracts were accepted from early career scientists, trainees and pharmacy students. A trio of pharmacy students from the Skaggs School of Pharmacy at the University of Montana traveled across the country to share their research on pharmacogenomics services in a telehealth model.

Pharmacy students from the University of Montana share their research on pharmacogenomics services in a telehealth model.
At the poster session and reception, pharmacy students from the University of Montana shared their research on pharmacogenomics services in a telehealth model.

“We have a lot of unique geographic and socioeconomic barriers in Montana that stand in the way of implementation,” said Shayna Killam, a second-year pharmacy student at the University of Montana. “We can take the things we learn at this conference and bring them back to Montana to implement there. It feels very special to be part of this conference and something so up and coming in medicine.”

The UF Precision Medicine Conference continues to build its programming year after year. New in 2020 was a stakeholder summit — held in partnership with Precision Medicine Advisors — to discuss recent FDA regulations and formulate solutions to improving the safety and efficacy of pharmacogenomics tests. A half-day preconference followed the summit and explored evidence-based pharmacogenomics and real-world experiences from the front lines of implementation. A trainee talk-back forum provided insight into the education and training of six early career scientists and trainees who are poised to make a significant impact in the field of precision medicine in the years to come.

To view photos from the event, visit: //ufcollegeofpharmacy.smugmug.com/Precision-Medicine-Conference-2020