A total of 16 pharmacists have signed up for a funded course in pharmacogenomics, a year after The Pharmaceutical Journal revealed that no pharmacists had applied to take a similar funded pharmacogenomics course.
The module in pharmacogenomics for healthcare professionals is provided by Bangor University, and is fully funded by Health Education and Improvement Wales (HEIW) for all healthcare professionals to apply.
A spokesperson for Bangor University said that in 2022/2023 — the first year the course had run — it had 16 participants, all of whom were pharmacists.
A postgraduate course in genomic medicine run by Swansea University, which in May 2022 had places funded by HEIW, had received no applications from pharmacists since the course began in 2018.
The spokesperson for Bangor University said it had submitted a bid for, and won, competitive HEIW funding to deliver a module on pharmacogenomics for healthcare professionals, as part of a potential full MSc in genomics and precision medicine.
The module is offered as a distance-learning course, with funded places available to all healthcare professionals across Wales. The university said it intended to run the course twice in 2023/2024 and subsequent years.
The spokesperson added: “We are not aware of there being a reluctance for pharmacists to become involved in pharmacogenomics. On the contrary, all students currently enrolled are pharmacists, and the groundswell of interest in pharmacogenomics is from the pharmacy profession.”
The Pharmaceutical Journal reported in May 2022 that no pharmacists had applied for a funded place on Swansea University’s postgraduate course in genomic medicine in the three years that it was available.
HEIW had allocated funding to cover the tuition fees for 39 places on the course for healthcare professionals working in the NHS since 2019, and 23 of these places had been taken up by healthcare professionals from other disciplines.
Earlier in 2022, The Pharmaceutical Journal reported that UK pharmacy professionals said they did not feel prepared for how genomics may change their day-to-day practice.
A survey of 615 pharmacy professionals by The Pharmaceutical Journal, published in April 2022, found only 10% answered that they were prepared “a great deal” or “a lot” for this change.
Claire Morgan, associate professor of biomedical sciences and programme director for the postgraduate genomics course at Swansea University, said at the time that she had looked at ways of increasing pharmacist interest in the course to help them learn more about genomics.
This included a small survey of around 100 pharmacy professionals that the university carried out in early 2022, which indicated a general lack of awareness of training opportunities in the area.
A spokesperson for HEIW said at the time that there were “currently no other training opportunities in pharmacogenomics available to pharmacy staff in Wales”, but that it was looking at developing other training opportunities.
Morgan told The Pharmaceutical Journal on 5 June 2023: “Unfortunately, Swansea was not successful in securing government funding for healthcare professionals to undertake the course/modules fully funded so we have not had any signing up to the course.”