HMSA Foundation grant helps UH Hilo Pharmacy students keep pace with technology

March 16, 2009

Students in the College of Pharmacy at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo will gain experience using clinical software tools thanks to a $75,506 grant from the HMSA Foundation. The grant was acknowledged March 13 before a lecture on disease management to 86 second-year pharmacy students from Dr. John Berthiaume, M.D., HMSA medical director and vice president.

"This generous grant helps assure our students are well versed in state-of-the-art technology that will help them compete in the global marketplace, and we are grateful for the foresight HMSA has shown in awarding us the opportunity," said Dr. John Pezzuto, dean of the College of Pharmacy. "Keeping pace with technological advancements is especially important as we continue our quest to become one of the top pharmacy schools in the country."

The grant will provide students in the inaugural three classes with handheld personal computer devices (PDAs), which will enable students to load software tools that can assist with diagnostic and therapeutic decision-making.

"We’re very pleased to support he College of Pharmacy at UH Hilo," said Cliff K. Cisco, HMSA senior vice president. "These PDAs will put valuable information at the fingertips of pharmacy students, and will help advance the quality of health care in the community. The HMSA Foundation is proud to be supporting this effort."

The HMSA Foundation was established in 1986 by the Hawaiʻi Medical Service Association to stimulate research of issues that confront Hawai’i’s healthcare industry. The Foundation awards between $1.0 and $1.4 million in grants each year.

"HMSA’s decision to fund this technology is another example of the support the entire community has shown the College of Pharmacy and we are extremely proud to be associated with them," said Ron Taniguchi, director of community partnerships in the College of Pharmacy and principal investigator on the grant. "This gift not only benefits Pharmacy students, but the public we serve."

UH Hilo’s College of Pharmacy is the only school in the Pacific region to offer a doctorate in pharmacy degree. The degree, also called a Pharm.D., is a professional degree requiring four years of study after completion of at least two years in a pre-pharmacy program in an accredited college or university.

"As the scope and depth of information increases, pharmacy students require the use of these technological tools in order to develop and refine their clinical skills," said Dr. Edward Fisher, associate dean for academic affairs in the College of Pharmacy. "Our students and faculty greatly appreciate this fine gesture made by the HMSA Foundation."

The College of Pharmacy was awarded candidate accreditation status by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education in July 2008. The College will be eligible for full accreditation when its first class of students graduate from the four-year program in 2011.

For more information about the College of Pharmacy, call (808)933-2909 or email

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