The COPH and COP have teamed up for pharmacoepidemiology

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The USF College of Public Health and the USF College of Pharmacy (COP) are teaming up to offer a new certificate in pharmacoepidemiology.

Pharmacoepidemiology is the study of the utilization and effects of drugs in a population. It provides a probability of the beneficial effects of a drug in a population as well as the probability of adverse effects.

(Photo courtesy of Pixabay).

(Photo courtesy of Pixabay).

The new certificate will start this fall semester with one course in the fall and the other in the spring. Throughout the courses there will also be a speaker series featuring USF faculty and guests.

Both pharmacy and epidemiology students will be able to earn this certificate concurrently with their degrees.

Dr. Janice Zgibor, associate professor of epidemiology and pharmacy, said the courses will focus on medication utilization side effects and how they get reported through the FDA, as well as regulatory work around medications.

“We want them to gain a deeper understanding of the post marketing surveillance in the pharmaceutical world,” Zgibor said. “Afterwards, the students will have a skill set that enables them to work in the pharmaceutical industry as well as other companies that research drug utilization patterns and/or adverse effects from drugs.

Dr. Janice Zgibor (Photo by Caitlin Keough).

Dr. Janice Zgibor (Photo by Caitlin Keough).

The pharmacoepidemiology certificate was developed after Zgibor saw an opportunity to work with the COP and allow pharmacists and public health professionals come together for a mutual learning experience.

As a faculty member at both the COPH and COP, Zgibor saw that there was interest among students wanting to learn and add more skills onto their degree.

“With more collaboration going on between the colleges it seemed like a prime time to develop a new approach to studying medications using epidemiologic methods,” she said.

Zgibor said that there are unique advantages for both epidemiologists and pharmacists earning this certificate.

“Epidemiology students will have a skillset that can set them apart in the job market,” she said. “For example, if there are five epidemiologists applying for the same position in a pharmaceutical company and one of them has a certificate in pharmacoepidemiology, all other things being equal, that one person will stand out because they’ve already worked with medication data which is a skill set in and of itself. There’s a steep learning curve to working with medication data.”

“For pharmacists looking to work more in an industry setting or the FDA, they’ll have the skill set that many other pharmacy schools don’t provide. This gives them an edge in the job market as well,” Zgibor said.

Zgibor said that the certificate also brings a unique opportunity to have doctoral students get faculty positions. Two doctoral students from the COPH and COP who are already pharmacists will be teaching courses for the certificate.

“Whether you’re a pharmacist with public health training or a public health professional with training in pharmaceuticals that’s a unique subset of people to practice pharmacoepidemiology,” Zgibor said. “I think we’re in a unique place, with a newer pharmacy school and pharmacists and public health professional learning here at the COPH, to bring this certificate to the surface and start training.”

Story by Caitlin Keough, USF College of Public Health

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