Looking to further Puerto Rico’s potential in pharmaceutical innovation, drug developer Merck has partnered with the Yale School of Medicine and the Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Puerto Rico to launch a drug discovery and development teaching program.
This initiative aims to provide medical students and health professionals an in-depth look at the drug development process and a solid base on the principles of basic, biological, preclinical, clinical and translated research, including how it is implemented, the ins-and-outs of the regulatory approval processes and drug post-approval procedures, company officials said during a news conference Monday.
“At Merck, we’re extremely proud to partner with these prestigious academic medical centers to bring closer to Puerto Rico to its potential to discover and develop innovative medicines, and that Puerto Rico has become the first site in the Americas outside the United States that will offer the program,” said Felipe Arbeláez, medical director of Merck for Puerto Rico and the Caribbean. “Merck is deeply committed to enhancing Puerto Rico’s the potential to discover and develop the drugs of tomorrow, today.”
Through this collaboration, more than 30 Merck scientists and Yale professors worked together to develop the program content, while the UPR’s Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Puerto Rico will provide the educational materials through its academic curriculum, which will be available to all island schools of medicine, pharmacy and other health-related professions.
The program will be taught online starting next semester and will be split into five modules broken down to between two and five lessons per module, for a total of 19 courses adding up to eight hours.
The five modules will cover the following topics: How medicines are discovered; Requirements to study drugs in humans; How research drug products are tested in humans; Regulatory processes for new drugs; and post-approval activities. The curriculum can be applied across therapeutic areas, aside from cancer treatment.
“For us at the Comprehensive Cancer Center, working with Merck in disseminating this curriculum is in line with our goal of increasing scientific knowledge among students and health professionals,” said Marcia Cruz, the institution’s scientific director.
“The program was designed to train participants in the drug development process, an essential part in the treatment of patients with oncological conditions,” she said. “We believe the knowledge gained through this curriculum will result in better alternatives for our patients in Puerto Rico.”