HIV Scholars Program Trains Pharmacists in Antiviral Treatments

By Mary Cochrane

Release Date: July 31, 2007 This content is archived.


BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The University at Buffalo HIV Scholars Program has its first graduate: Wen-Liang Lin, a clinical pharmacist at the National Cheng-Kung University Hospital in Taiwan, has completed an extensive period of clinical training in UB's School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences and will complete the certificate segment of the program in Taiwan.

The UB HIV pharmacotherapy certificate is the first in the United States to certify practicing pharmacists in the management of antiviral treatment for patients with HIV. The program plans to enroll two more students from Zimbabwe this year, according to Gene D. Morse, Pharm.D., associate dean of clinical and translational research for the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.

Morse said much of the program is conducted online at the UB HIV ePharmacotherapy Network This technology provides a critical link to pharmacists around the world, allowing them access to the program's specific standard of care and ensuring they may comfortably and knowledgably work with HIV patients and their health-care providers.

"This is the first certificate program in HIV pharmacotherapy to establish a rigorous level of competency for practicing pharmacists," Morse said. "Mr. Lin's experience and his completion of the program after returning to Taiwan make him the first pharmacist of Taiwan to learn HIV specialty abroad."

As part of his training, Lin completed a six-month visiting scholar program at UB and in the Immunodeficiency Services Unit of the Erie County Medical Center in Buffalo under the direction of Morse and Chiu-Bin Hsiao, M.D., UB assistant professor of medicine and attending physician at the hospital.

Lin will be involved in direct patient care through the multidisciplinary HIV program at the National Cheng-Kung University Hospital in Taiwan, where recently, according to Morse, "there were about 11,500 HIV-infected patients and a prevalence of about one infection in every 2,000 residents."

Morse also serves as chair of the UB Department of Pharmacy Practice and director of the Laboratory for Antiviral Research at UB, a pharmacology specialty laboratory for the National Institutes of Health AIDS Clinical Trials Group (ACTG).

"The care of HIV-infected patients is centralized in medical centers including Mr. Lin's hospital. To date, pharmacists in Taiwan have not directly taken care of HIV-infected patients. However, with his training, Mr. Lin will join with infectious disease physicians, social workers and nurses who have already established a collaborative approach to HIV," Morse said.

Lin said his studies at UB have been "a prosperous gain to me.

"I have learned the interpretation of HIV resistance tests, different scenarios for antiretroviral regimen design, and developed skills for patient counseling," he said. "I will take what I have learned back, continue to keep in contact with the experts in Buffalo and contribute to the care of HIV-infected patients in Taiwan."

Morse added that Lin, who has become an international editorial board member of the UB HIV ePharmacotherapy Network, was able to practice on real cases and learn from lectures and discussions at the multidisciplinary ECMC virology conferences.

"He observed the communication between the providers and was impressed with their emphasis on teamwork. Mr. Lin also was able to become familiar with new HIV drugs which are not yet available in Taiwan," Morse said.

The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public university, the largest and most comprehensive campus in the State University of New York. UB's more than 27,000 students pursue their academic interests through more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a member of the Association of American Universities.