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Pharmacogenomics and Stratified Healthcare

Course Type
Postgraduate, Continuing professional development, Module

Module overview

The aim of this module is to describe the complexity of pharmacogenomics and the effect of medication on individuals based on their genetic make-up, in other words, tailoring drug treatment to improve patient response, and techniques to stratify patients at risk of adverse drug reactions. The module will use examples of known, validated pharmacogenomic tests, relevant to the use of drug treatments.

Pharmacogenomics and stratified health care should ensure that patients are offered the 'right treatment, for the right person, at the right time’. This module will provide an overview of the analytical strategies and techniques used in pharmacogenomics and explore some of the challenges and limitations in this field. Biomarkers are the predictive tools for optimising drug response and preventing adverse drug reactions. Thus this module will also provide an overview of the different types of genomic biomarkers currently in use or emerging.

Module content

  • Examples to demonstrate the genomic basis of drug reaction, drug efficacy, the ethnic differences in both of these, and how this is applied in prescribing practice.
  • Challenges and limitations of pharmacogenetic studies, for example: availability of patient material/samples for studies of adverse drug reactions; allelic heterogeneity between different ethnic groups; and patient compliance with the drug regime.
  • Different types and examples of genomic-targeted intervention (examples of genomically-targeted clinical, therapeutic or lifestyle choices).
  • Genomic biomarkers: SNPs, variability of short sequence repeats, haplotypes, DNA modifications (for example, methylation), deletions or insertions, copy number variants, RNA expression levels, RNA splicing, and microRNA levels.
  • Application of biomarkers in disease treatment, including cancer.
  • Use of genomic information for targeted drug development.
  • Companion diagnostics and options for NHS service delivery models, including: NHS England strategy; the role of NICE guidelines and other governing frameworks; ethical, legal and social issues, including ethnic differences at a genomic level, and equity of access to testing; and patient choice regarding treatment plans
  • Availability of direct to consumer testing, and the implications for pharmacogenomics testing.


15 Masters level credits

Module attendance required

Teaching delivered over 5 days.

Module dates

Semester 2

Module Leads

Professor Gary Middleton (Professor of Medical Oncology, University of Birmingham and Honorary Consultant Medical Oncologist)
Dr Andrew Bell (Lecturer in Cancer and Genomic Sciences)

Module Prerequisites

This module can be taken as a stand-alone assessed or non-assessed course. 

You should have a good honours degree in a life sciences subject, although we will consider applicants with alternative qualifications and professional experience within the health service or other relevant background. You should either take An Introduction to Human Genetics and Genomics, Omics Techniques and their Application to Genomic Medicine) and Genomics in Cancer Pathology first, or be able to show you have equivalent knowledge and understanding to enable you to benefit from this module. 

Please contact the Programme Administrator for further information at


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