Professor of pharmacy Joel Owen accepted an invitation to teach this summer at the department of pharmacology and therapeutics, in the college of health science at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda.
The trip took place in July and lasted about 14 days.
Owen was the main facilitator of the brief course, “Pharmacokinetic – Pharmacodynamic Modeling Principles and their Applications in Infectious Disease Research and Patient Care.”
The course taught theory and hands-on computer modeling of population pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamics using nonlinear mixed effects models (NONMEM) to graduate students, faculty, pharmacists, physicians and government regulators.
“The course is significant for its educational content,” Owen said. “Pharmacometrics is an important and increasingly utilized approach to the analysis of clinical data for decision making in drug development and in the clinical care of patients.”
Owen said that he hopes the course will bring recognition and promote the department of clinical pharmacology and therapeutics at Makerere University. “l am hopeful that this course will improve their ability to access grants and funding for research that will improve the treatment of diseases in this resource limited nation.”
Jackson Mukonzo, Ph.D., the acting department chair of Pharmacology and therapeutics in the college of health science at Makerere University, organized the course.
“These techniques that are used to establish treatment outcome correlate with pharmacokinetic data using computer models are a critical aspect of research that is not well developed at Makerere University and the entire region,” Mukonzo said.
This course is significant to the students who have received an introduction to a data analysis methodology, which is highly sought after and has value for their research, academics or other professional careers.
The 27 students in the course came from Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya and Namibia. Students came from the following schools: Makerere University, Gulu University, Mbarara University, Kampala International University, Trinity College Dublin, University of Namibia and Maseno University of Kenya. Students also represented the Uganda Cancer Institute, Mulago Hospital, Uganda National Drug Authority, the Infectious Disease Institute and Lacor Hospital.
There were two graduate student facilitators, Kuteesa Bisaso and Ojara F. Williams, both of whom attended a similar course at Makerere University in 2012 and have used the methodology in their graduate studies and learned sufficiently to be facilitators during this year’s course.
Professor Livingstone S. Luboobi, Ph.D., of the department of mathematics at Makerere University presented one lecture on basic modeling concepts.
Mukonzo provided one introductory lecture.
Ene Ette, Ph.D., participated in lecturing as well. Ette is the owner and CEO of Anoixis Corporation, a pharmacometrics consulting company. He is the former head of pharmacometrics at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and was the primary author of the “Population Pharmacokinetics Guidance for Industry” document. He is a Christian and shared of his faith during the course, providing a motivational talk during one of his lecture times that was Christ centered and which changed the attitudes and tone of the course.
Owen believes that Makerere may be the leading university in East Africa in the area of pharmacometrics and hope they will continue to develop in this area to have faculty who can teach the course on their own in the future.
Owen received a Fulbright Specialist Grant to travel to Uganda.
“Owen is one of more than 400 United States faculty and professionals who will travel abroad this year through the Fulbright Specialists Program,” According to a Union press release.
The program is designed to provide short-term academic opportunities to support curricular and faculty development and institutional planning at post-secondary academic institutions around the world.
Recipients of Fulbright awards are selected on the basis of academic or professional achievement.
Though Owen had been to Uganda twice before, he said he learned more about Kampala and the country. “I was encouraged by the worship at All Saints Anglican church which I visited with my host and colleague, Jackson Mukonzo,” said Owen.
While in Uganda, Owen took the opportunity to visit two Christian missions organizations, My Father’s House Missions International and Child Advocacy Africa in which he has personal connection.
Owen traveled to Uganda in 2010 to adopt two children – Annette, 10 years old and 8-year-old Mark. Owen and his wife Melanie also have two older children, Matthew and Janie, who are both students at Union.
Owen has been at Union for about six years. Prior to coming to Union, he worked in the pharmaceutical industry for 13 years.