Ngoc Phuong Mai Le
Student Spotlight | 2/29/2024

Precision Medicine: The Future is Now for PharmD Student

By Dana Barbuto

Ngoc Phuong Mai Le is a 2024 PharmD candidate on the Boston campus who earned a Precision Medicine Graduate Certificate.

Ngoc Phuong Mai Le
Ngoc Phuong Mai Le is a 2024 PharmD candidate on the Boston campus who earned a Precision Medicine Graduate Certificate.

Precision Medicine Graduate Certificate positions pharmacists to take the lead in personalized care.

Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (MCPHS) student Ngoc Phuong Mai Le is on the verge of completing her Doctor of Pharmacy degree, and she’s already enhancing her skills and looking ahead to a promising future. 

One notable addition to her growing list of credentials is the Precision Medicine Graduate Certificate, which equips her with the aptitude to use genetic information and other data for personalized patient care—a crucial skill for aspiring pharmacists. At the core, the coursework explores pharmacogenomics, which considers how genetics influence drug responses in the body and how medications do not work the same way for everyone. 

For Mai, a 2024 PharmD candidate on the Boston campus, this certificate has become a cornerstone in her education. “This certificate has given me a strong foundation in pharmacogenomics and precision medicine to support healthcare providers in making informed decisions for individualized patient care,” she said. 

The program, offered collaboratively by MCPHS and Harvard Medical School (HMS), is tailored for health and life sciences professionals and comprises four courses—two from each institution. Mai said she particularly enjoyed the MCPHS elective, Clinical Pharmacogenomics. During the course, she conducted a swabbing procedure, sent her sample for personalized pharmacogenetic testing, and gained eye-opening insights. 

“I learned about the challenges of direct-to-consumer genetic testing and the impact of pharmacogenomics on clinical practice,” Mai shared. “Understanding how my genetic makeup could influence drug metabolism heightened my awareness of medication use and alternatives.” 

Courses are delivered online and feature prerecorded scientific lectures, interviews with providers and patients, and interactive quizzes for learning checkpoints, and timed exams. The MCPHS course on precision medicine’s ethical, legal, and social aspects involves hands-on activities, such as a debate competition and a final essay assignment on related ethics and laws. 

“As part of the course, I researched various consent forms used at clinical trial sites, suggesting changes to improve the patient information collection process,” Mai noted. 

As a pharmacist-in-training, Mai highlighted the importance of studying pharmacogenomics in her journey toward becoming a knowledgeable healthcare provider. She emphasized its role in improving the quality of care through personalized medicines, foreseeing a future where pharmacists provide tailored counseling and recommend alternatives to prevent gene-drug interactions. 

Coming from a Vietnamese family with a rich background in healthcare and pharmacy, Mai said she is eager to forge her path in the field. As she approaches graduation this spring, Mai envisions a multifaceted career spanning the pharmaceutical industry, academia, and clinical pharmacy. “I want to be a part of the innovative drug development process, contribute to the education of future student pharmacists, and enhance patient care,” she said. 

Reflecting on her journey, Mai expressed her longstanding interest in sciences since high school and the influence of her healthcare-oriented family. Her decision to pursue pharmacy education stems from witnessing pharmacists’ positive effects on patients and the myriad opportunities available across different sectors, including precision medicine. “I’ve seen how impactful pharmacists can be,” she said.   

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