Nurturing the Pharmacometricians of the Future

As a scientist, you always remember your first conference. The ability to share your research and learn from your peers is an invaluable part of any scientist’s training. That’s why I’m so proud that Certara helps support the travel and accommodation expenses for a selected number of students wishing to attend the Population Approach Group in Europe (PAGE) meeting. This year’s meeting will take place from June 6-9 in Budapest, Hungary.

The winners of the PAGE Student Sponsorship are an exceptionally promising group of students. They are studying in universities all over the world and are working on important projects to help bring safer, more effective medications to patients.

We’d like to let you know a little about them, what they’re studying, and why they’re excited to be attending PAGE.

André Dallmann is a PhD student at the University of Münster in Germany.

Research interests: The objective of my research project is to develop and verify a novel physiologically-based pharmacokinetic (PBPK) model for populations of pregnant women, a special population in which there is a dearth of information on drug safety and efficacy. To this end, the system parameter model basis was informed by more than 7700 literature data points on physiological changes in relevant model parameters. Subsequently, substance models were built and verified for 12 different drugs, 3 of which will be presented at this year’s PAGE meeting.

What he’s most excited about learning at PAGE: For me, PAGE has always been a stimulating event. It is a wonderful opportunity for meeting other researchers, presenting our work, and learning about the work of others both within and outside the focus of one’s own research, which can be very inspiring. Specifically, I am most interested in learning about the manifold applications of different pharmacometric tools and about where knowledge-driven modeling approaches, such as PBPK modeling, are going in the long-term.

John Diep is a student at the University at Buffalo in Buffalo, New York, USA where he’s working on a MS in Pharmaceutical Sciences – Pharmacometrics Track.

Research interests: The overall goal of our research is to optimize antimicrobial therapies against multidrug-resistant pathogens. We aim to integrate host-pathogen interactions into the design and optimization of treatment regimens by using a systems-based approach. Our objective here was to develop a mechanism-based model that quantitatively describes the interactions between bacterial dynamics, host immune response, and lung injury using an immunocompetent rat pneumonia model of infection and to simulate the effects of an altered immune system on disease progression.

What he’s most excited about learning at PAGE: This will be my first time attending PAGE. I am excited about meeting and learning as much as I can from some of the experts in the field of pharmacometrics.

Konstantina Soulele, MSc is a PhD candidate in Biopharmaceutics-Pharmacokinetics in the Department of Pharmacy in the School of Health Sciences at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens (NKUA) in Greece.

Research interests: Her current research interests are in the field of population pharmacokinetic analyses and the development of pharmacokinetic models for the description of the absorption and distribution kinetics of inhaled and orally administered drugs.

What she’s most excited about learning at PAGE: The PAGE conference offers a great opportunity to expand your knowledge on pharmacokinetic modeling and learn the latest ideas and methodologies from top experts in the field. It is an ideal place for sharing your own research interests and interacting and connecting with like-minded colleagues from the world’s top universities and established industry leaders.

Mahendra Shukla is a PhD candidate in Pharmacokinetics & Metabolism at the Central Drug Research Institute in Lucknow, India.

Research interests: My doctorate research work is focused on pharmacokinetic/pharmacodynamics (PK/PD) modeling of furosemide for anti-hypertensive effects and bioavailability enhancement studies of curcumin.

What he’s most excited about learning at PAGE: The PAGE meeting contains a galaxy of the pharmacometric experts. As a young researcher, this meeting will give me a wonderful opportunity to not only interact with them, but to build long term relationships that will help me to pursue my career in this field.

Maxwell Chirehwa is a PhD candidate in clinical pharmacology at the University of Cape Town in South Africa.

Research interests: To describe the pharmacokinetics of first-line antituberculosis drugs among TB/HIV co-infected patients in Africa and characterize factors contributing to the variability in exposure to the drugs by using nonlinear mixed-effects models. The models are also used to evaluate drug exposures associated with alternative doses of antituberculosis drugs, thus providing evidence to support revised dosing recommendations for drug-susceptible and multi-drug resistant tuberculosis.

What he’s most excited about learning at PAGE: The PAGE meeting will give me an opportunity to learn the new and advanced estimation methods used in population analysis. I will also attend the free pre-meeting workshops to improve my understanding of modeling techniques and software used in pharmacometrics.

Rob van Wijk is a PhD candidate at Leiden University’s Leiden Academic Centre for Drug Research in the division of Pharmacology in the Hague, Netherlands.

Research interests: A major cause of attrition in drug discovery and development is limited interspecies translation of drug efficacy and safety. Understanding PK/PD relationships and their drug- and system-specific components can improve this translation.

The zebrafish is increasingly used in early drug discovery experiments. However, internal drug and/or metabolite exposure is hardly studied, impeding the interpretation of drug (adverse) effects. Our aim is to characterize the pharmacokinetics and pharmacokinetics/pharmacodynamics in this promising organism for systems pharmacology applications.

What he’s most excited about learning at PAGE: Experiments with zebrafish are easy to perform and quick to plan, enabling an ideal cycle of experimental design, data acquisition, and modeling & simulation iterations. I’m interested in learning how the relationship between modeling & simulation and subsequent (optimized) experimental design can improve the quality of data and modeling results.

For innovation to continue in drug development, we must cultivate our future pharmacology leaders. At Certara, we believe that education is critical to our mission. That’s why we support training for PK/PD modeling via Certara University and for PBPK modeling via our Simcyp workshop program. Our Certara Centers of Excellence program at designated universities is another way that we nurture the next generation of experts in the field of model-informed drug development.

Congrats to all the students! We wish you a wonderful time at PAGE. Please visit us at Booth #15 & 16 when you’re in Budapest!

Suzanne Minton
Dr. Suzanne Minton is the scientific communications manager at Certara. She helps develop the science-focused, value-oriented content that our customers go wild for. When she's not writing about the hottest problems in drug development, Suzanne enjoys spending time with her husband and two young children.