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College & Research News

photo of hiv residency team
UHCOP Clinical Associate Professor Rustin Crutchley, Pharm.D., AAHIVP, far right, is shown at the Companion Dx lab with Pharmacy Operations Manager and UHCOP alumna Annie Tran, Pharm.D., 2015-16 PGY-2 HIV Ambulatory Care-Clinical Pharmacogenetics Resident Amy Cheng, Pharm.D., and Companion Dx Chief Scientific Officer, Chief Medical Officer, and Laboratory Director Kevin Rosenblatt, M.D., Ph.D.

SIDP Residency, Research Awards

UHCOP Faculty Earn Society of Infectious Diseases Pharmacists Awards for HIV Residency, C diff. Research

Two UH College of Pharmacy faculty members – Rustin D. Crutchley, Pharm.D., AAHIVP, and Amelia K. Sofjan, Pharm.D., BCPS – were honored with funded awards from the Society of Infectious Diseases Pharmacists (SIDP) at the organization's 2016 Annual Meeting June 16 in Boston, Mass.

Crutchley received the Merck Infectious Diseases Pharmacotherapy Residency Award for 2016-2017 and a $60,000 grant in support of the college's PGY-2 HIV Ambulatory Care-Clinical Pharmacogenetics Residency Program, which is believed to be the only program in the U.S. combining longitudinal clinical pharmacogenetics and ambulatory care for adult and pediatric HIV patients.

A clinical associate professor in the college's Department of Pharmacy Practice and Translational Research who started the HIV residency program in 2014, Crutchley has clinical appointments – and oversight of the resident's rotations – at three sites:

  • Houston-based Companion Dx, a private pharmacogenetics company that uses diagnostics such as next-generation sequencing, pharmacogenetics testing, and therapeutic drug monitoring to assist clinicians regarding treatment and diagnoses;
  • Retrovirology Clinic at Texas Children's Hospital; and
  • the private HIV/AIDS clinic Therapeutics Concepts Inc.

"The recognition and support from SIDP and Merck for our program is a great acknowledgement of the work we are doing to to produce highly qualified practitioners in HIV with a valuable skill set in clinical pharmacogenetics, who are then best prepared to improve overall treatment outcomes for diverse HIV patient populations with multiple comorbidities," Crutchley said.

Sofjan, a clinical assistant professor in the PPTR department with a practice site at CHI St. Luke's Health-Baylor St. Luke's Medical Center, received the SIDP/Alere Research Award and a $10,000 grant for her project, "Incidence and microbiological characteristics of Clostridium difficile infection in Bangladesh."

sofjan photo

Clostridium difficile infection (CDI) is classified by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as one of three "Urgent" drug-resistant threats to the U.S. CDI can cause severe diarrhea and life-threatening colitis, with those most at risk including people – especially older adults – who take or have been exposed to antibiotics and have received medical care. Considered the most common cause of infectious diarrhea in hospitalized patients, CDI is associated with recurrent infection, longer hospital stays, increased costs and increased risk of death.

While CDI constitutes a major concern in the U.S. and in Europe, it is considered "nonexistent" and rarely diagnosed in developing nations such as Bangladesh. However, backed by recent studies indicating the rise of CDI in hospitalized patients in Southeast Asia, the widespread use of broad-spectrum antibiotics in Bangladesh and preliminary data identifying toxigenic strains of the bacteria in environmental samples from Bangladesh, Sofjan believes diagnosis of CDI is likely an area of urgent, unmet need in the country.

"Data from this study should represent the only epidemiological study of CDI in Bangladesh," Sofjan said. "An accurate diagnosis of CDI is essential to alert clinicians to implement infection control measures, re-evaluate the need for antimicrobials and implement effective therapy."

The project will utilize a U.S.-developed rapid diagnostic tool during the initial sample collection and identification from patients at a large tertiary care hospital in Dhaka, Bangladesh. The positive samples will be sent to UHCOP to be cultured and strain typed, as well as compared to biobanked samples from Houston patients with positive CDI.

Sofjan's co-investigators are M. Jahangir Alam, Ph.D., UHCOP research assistant professor; M. Aminul Islam, Ph.D., associate scientist at International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research in Dhaka, Bangladesh; and Kevin W. Garey, Pharm.D., M.S., FASHP, UHCOP professor.