PRIME Pharmacists as Personalized Medicine ExpertsLed by Drs. Lisa McCarthy and Beth Sproule, the Pharmacists as Personalized Medicine Experts project — the PRIME project for short — has trained pharmacists and is now supporting them as they work with patients and their prescribers to optimize medication therapy in their communities.

Sometimes medications do not work well for patients or cause side effects. Pharmacogenomics is a field of science that explores how a person’s DNA — their genetic make-up — affects their response to medications, whether drugs work as intended or cause side effects.

In recent years, researchers have explored how genetic variations among people affect their capacity to respond better or worse to medications. The PRIME study brings this growing science, pharmacogenomics, to clinical practice.

Our specially trained PRIME pharmacists work with patients and their prescribers to find out if genetics can help to find the best medication options for them.

Research coordinator: Josie Chundamala
Co-investigators: Drs. Natalie Crown, Micheline Piquette-Miller, Daniel Mueller, James Kennedy

PRIME is funded by the Canadian Foundation for Pharmacy and our partner study, IMPACT (Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation). It is also supported through in-kind contributions from the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Toronto; Women’s College Hospital and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.

PRIME’s research goals

  1. Develop and evaluate a personalized medicine specialization training program for pharmacists to prepare them to implement pharmacogenomics in their practices.
  2. Work with these trained pharmacists as they identify patients who may benefit from use of their genetic information to optimize drug therapy by fostering a community of practice to support them as they integrate this new service into their practices.
  3. Assess use and acceptance by patients and prescribers of a personalized medicine service offered by pharmacists, while exploring the impact on patient outcomes.


The PRIME project has two phases:

  • Phase 1: Through a multi-component training program, equip pharmacists with the knowledge, skills and attitudes needed to become personalized medicine experts in their communities.
  • Phase 2: Support PRIME pharmacists as they bring pharmacogenomics to their practice. We will evaluate how often and the circumstances in which having genetic information helps with drug therapy decision-making. This includes exploring the experiences of patients, pharmacists and prescribers.

Phase 1
PRIME pharmacists have participated in a comprehensive training program comprised of online learning modules, a two-day live training session, and additional online case discussions. We sought to learn how to optimize the training experience for future programs and to evaluate the impact of the program on pharmacists’ knowledge and comfort with applying pharmacogenomics in their practices.

Phase 2
PRIME pharmacists will apply their new expertise in their daily clinical practices. As they work with patients and prescribers to optimize medication therapy, pharmacists will identify patients who may benefit from pharmacogenetic testing. Patients are then provided with study information and, if they consent, will enrol in the PRIME and IMPACT studies to receive testing.

Key project activities

1. Training pharmacists as personalized medicine experts
Twenty-two pharmacists have successfully completed all components of the training program. Phase 1 is complete.

2. Clinical practice implementation
PRIME pharmacists are currently identifying patients who may be appropriate for the study.

How to participate as a patient

Find out how you can participate in PRIME.