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RE: post-ACoP: How to train future pharmacometricians

From: Bies, Robert R. <rrbies>
Date: Fri, 16 Oct 2009 10:50:59 -0400


Thank you for your thoughtful comments here. I guess I didn't express myse=
lf clearly with respect to the Ph.D. elements - I wasn't thinking about a f=
ormal or rigid training program - but rather some of the mechanics of depar=
tments recognizing that these approaches and the elements that we think are=
 necessary in terms of developing thinkers in this area are recognized with=
in and/or across departments (i.e., that a student could do a thesis primar=
ily based in questions addressed with a Modeling and Simulation approach fo=
r example). I agree that it is critical that we developing those "who are =
quite capable of learning new methods on the fly and not technicians for th=
e present". The not producing technicians is a key challenge but a critica=
l element to success in this area. We are hoping to developing some of tho=
se folks (i.e., the faculty of the future) with the program here. Some of t=
he sharing/vetting was more in the vein of being able to expose the student=
s to the leaders in each of the areas of the field for perspective (perhaps=
 additional cultivation in the context of growing).

I suppose Stephen Pinker's assessment is some cause for concern - but at th=
e same time a stimulus to begin thinking about how to "grow" the field. Th=
e hope at Indiana is that the initial program will evolve into one that has=
 a Ph.D. training element (and already there is significant interest from P=
h.D. students in the inter-disciplinary programs here in medical genetics a=
nd pharmacology).

Best Regards,


Robert R. Bies Pharm.D.Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Clinical Pharmacology
Center for Computational Biology and Bioinformatics
Indiana University School of Medicine
1001 W 10th Street W7138
Indianapolis, IN 46202

-----Original Message-----
From: Stephen Duffull [mailto:stephen.duffull
Sent: Friday, October 16, 2009 7:06 AM
To: Bies, Robert R.; Kimko, Holly [PRDUS]; nmusers
Cc: marcg
Subject: RE: post-ACoP: How to train future pharmacometricians


I think what you indicate is perhaps more formal than what I am thinking.

> across institutions - how is this vetted if one wants to provide an
> "accredited" Ph.D. degree in this area - so how are the various
> contributions recognized across institutions as being appropriate and
> sufficient to contribute to the Ph.D. from any given institution that
> is participating). There are already curricula established that could
> be used to show the core need for training across multiple sites (see
> the Metrum Institute curriculum - perhaps Marc can comment on this
> further).

The above sounds like a training programme. A PhD is about a student learn=
ing about research and problem solving in an environment that maximises the=
ir ability to discover answers/solutions. It is not about training someone=
 up for a job somewhere.

It happens that PhD students who are trained in pharmacometrics will genera=
lly get quite a broad range of experiences and knowledge of current tools. =
 However, we are training thinking players for the future who are quite cap=
able of learning new methods on the fly and not technicians for the present=

What I hear in this discussion is more of a course taught, perhaps a Master=
s type, programme whereby a student could tick off the necessary components=
 to attain the title of pharmacometrician.

I don't know the attrition rates in academia in Australasia, but I imagine =
that we have as much difficulty either in setting up a position which is pr=
incipally pharmacometrics (due to available funding) or attracting staff of=
 the right background. Without faculty we get no PhD students and no think=
ing players for the future...

So, for me there are essentially three different types of solutions:
1) Industry & academia grow their own pharmacometricians by taking on some=
one in an allied field and training them up in house (or via external cours=
es) and then run the risk of losing them after a substantial investment.
2) A teaching programme is set up specifically to train pharmacometrics (e=
.g. a Masters programme of some sort).
3) More faculty become available at Universities who will take on PhD stud=
ents and then train the next generation of players.

I believe (1) happens now and for me (3) is the solution for the future. I=
 believe the criterion to determine the health of the discipline is the tot=
al number of young faculty in pharmacometrics across the world. They say (=
at least Stephen Pinker does) that a language is officially dead when less =
than 6000 children speak it...

Professor Stephen Duffull
Chair of Clinical Pharmacy
School of Pharmacy
University of Otago
PO Box 913 Dunedin
New Zealand
E: stephen.duffull
P: +64 3 479 5044
F: +64 3 479 7034

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Received on Fri Oct 16 2009 - 10:50:59 EDT

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