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School of Pharmacy’s Lamy Center Works to Engage Older Adults and Caregivers through PCORI Engagement Award

Drs. Nicole Brandt and Catherine Cooke are leading efforts to create a network to support Patient-Centered Outcomes Research focusing on medication optimization.

By Nicole Brandt, PharmD, MBA, and Paavani Jain, MD, MPH
August 19, 2021

A team led by the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy has been approved for a $239,837 funding award through the Eugene Washington PCORI Engagement Awards program, an initiative of the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI). The funds will support a project called Engaging Older Adults and Caregivers in Medication Optimization Research that creates infrastructural support and capacity building through engagement of local communities in medication related Patient Centered Outcomes Research (PCOR) – linking them together via an Age-Friendly Medication Optimization Network.

Nicole Brandt, PharmD, MBA, professor of pharmacy practice and science and executive director of the Peter Lamy Center on Drug Therapy and Aging at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy, will lead the project, which is a collaborative effort between three regional partners and a community council: Hawaii Region – Karen Pellegrin (University of Hawaii at Hilo); Midwest – Patricia Merryweather-Arges (Project Patient Care), Brian Isetts (University of Minnesota College of Pharmacy); MidAtlantic – Catherine Cooke, Rudolf Lamy (University of Maryland School of Pharmacy). These regions have been picked as they have experience in comparative effectiveness research (CER) in medication management of older adults. The goal is to transition from CER to PCOR in medication optimization; the latter represents a gap in current evidence. The selected regions also encompass unique partnerships – Hawaii Region has a rural health focus, Midwest has urban and suburban expertise, and Mid-Atlantic has continuum of care focus centered around older adults and those that care.

The regional level collaboration translates into partnerships at an individual level between pharmacists, researchers, older adults and their family/caregivers. An interprofessional aspect of pharmacist led medication optimization is also one of the core-target components of the project. The role of pharmacists in improved patient outcomes has been well supported. This project will enhance this role especially in patient-centered outcomes research. Overall, the project aims at equal collaboration with older adults and caregivers, right from the nomenclature of the proposed network, to formation and functioning of it, through to its sustainability. This makes it unique, perhaps the only national medication optimizing network that is driven with patient input. A shared approach for network building will be utilized.

Through meaningful stakeholder collaboration, ideally an equal collaboration, the project aims to produce tangible deliverables in the form of building a network website, creating a community council comprising of both researchers/pharmacists and older adults/caregivers, producing training materials that are based on needs of patient/caregiver populations, and generating research questions relevant to best practices in medication optimization.

According to Brandt, “This network builds on the vision of the Peter Lamy Center on Drug Therapy and Aging, which is to improve the lives of older adults by optimizing medication safety and use, and expands this through network collaboration focusing on older adult-centered outcomes research.

This project is part of a portfolio of projects that PCORI has funded to help develop a community of patients and other stakeholders equipped to participate as partners in CER and disseminate PCORI-funded study results. Through the Engagement Award Program, PCORI is creating an expansive network of individuals, communities and organizations interested in and able to participate in, share, and use patient centered CER.

The University of Maryland project and the other projects approved for funding by the PCORI Engagement Award Program were selected through a highly competitive review process in which applications were assessed for their ability to meet PCORI’s engagement goals and objectives, as well as program criteria. For more information about PCORI’s funding to support engagement efforts, visit

PCORI is an independent, nonprofit organization authorized by Congress in 2010 to fund comparative effectiveness research that will provide patients, their caregivers, and clinicians with the evidence needed to make better-informed health and healthcare decisions. PCORI is committed to seeking input from a broad range of stakeholders to guide its work.

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