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Sharing Best Practices in Senior Care

UHCOP, UTHealth Researchers Receive $250K NIH Grant to Organize Geriatric Medication Safety Symposium

Sept. 29 — UH College of Pharmacy and McGovern Medical School at UTHealth Houston researchers have received a five-year, $250,000 National Institute on Aging (NIA) grant to host the Geriatrics Medication Safety Symposium (GMSS) in Houston's Texas Medical Center aimed at sharing the latest research and practice evidence in the field with pharmacy, medical, nursing and dentistry professionals, residents, graduate students, and researchers.

The NIA-supported symposium is slated for April 7-8, 2022, at UTHealth's Denton and Ralph Cooley University Life Center in the Texas Medical Center.

Rajender R. Aparasu, Ph.D., FAPhA, UHCOP Mustafa & Sanober Lokhandwala Endowed Professor of Pharmaceutical Health Outcomes and Policy and principle investigator on the project, said the symposium is part of a larger dialogue among researchers and practitioners to share knowledge and experiences to develop options and solutions for complexities of medications, especially the increased dangers of adverse drug events in the older adult population.

"Providing safe, effective pharmacotherapy remains a challenge across all health care disciplines," Aparasu said. "The U.S. population is aging, and with longer lifespans typically come comorbidities and other clinical complexities to manage medications that in some cases also interfere with the safety and effectiveness of other medications. This interprofessional symposium will provide a platform to share and disseminate the best practices to improve the quality of geriatric care."

Those 65 years and older will approach nearly one-quarter of the U.S. population over the next two decades. According to a 2019 report published by the National Center for Health Statistics, nearly 70% of adults in the U.S. and Canada age 40-79 took at least one medication in the past month, and nearly one-third of adults in that age range took five or more medications in the past 30 days.

The presence of comorbidities, polypharmacy, high-risk medications, age-related changes in drug absorption and metabolism, and gender and racial differences are among the many factors that can contribute to medication-related problems like drug-drug (or drug-food) interactions and increased risk of adverse drug events, such as falls, overdose, chronic disease progression, and even mortality.

Project co-PI Holly M. Holmes, M.D., M.S., AGSF, associate professor and director of the Joan and Stanford Alexander Division of Geriatric and Palliative Medicine at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth Houston, said she and Aparasu have recruited a diverse planning committee representing institutions across the Texas Medical Center to help identify "internationally recognized speakers and engaging, high-yield topics."

"This conference will bring together researchers, clinicians, educators, students and trainees who are all passionate about the appropriate use of medications in older people," said Holmes, the Joan and Stanford Alexander Chair in Gerontology at McGovern Medical School. "With the ultimate goal of enhancing patient outcomes and quality of life across the entire care spectrum, the conference will focus on the latest developments in clinical practice and the most current research around medication safety."

Symposium organizers said they expect to make continuing education credits available from accredited providers to attendees, along with hosting poster and podium presentation sessions for graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and residents during the two-day event.

The GMSS builds upon the work of Aparasu and Holmes to organize and operate the Houston Medication Safety Symposium three years from 2017 to 2019.