UH Hilo pharmacy college receives grant to further address statewide health disparities

The goal of the project is to develop a screening tool that can be used by pharmacists to better address potential medication adherence barriers for Hawai‘i’s Indigenous populations.

High pitched roof of the pharmacy college, UH Hilo.
The UH Hilo Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy, UH Hilo. (Raiatea Arcuri/UH Hilo Stories)

By Susan Enright

Faculty researchers at University of Hawai‘i at Hilo’s Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy are developing a statewide infrastructure to correct existing health disparities with medication use among Hawai‘i’s Indigenous populations.

The work began several years ago with a statewide project called Pharm2Pharm, led by UH Hilo and funded by the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ Innovation Center, where the team of researchers demonstrated that pharmacists are essential to achieving higher quality, lower cost care in Hawai‘i.

The researchers have now received new funding to build on the Pharm2Pharm model with a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ grant of $333,000 awarded through the Minority Research Grant Program of the CMS’s Office of Minority Health.

Wesley Sumida pictured
Wesley Sumida

With the new award, the research team aims to adapt the Pharm2Pharm model through incorporating the findings of Wesley Sumida, an associate professor at UH Hilo’s pharmacy college who has been working on another project funded through the UH Center for Pacific Innovations, Knowledge and Opportunities or PIKO that also addresses health disparities in Hawai‘i.

Sumida explains that his research seeks to understand critical factors related to medication non-adherence in Native Hawaiian and Pacific Island patients with diabetes and heart disease.

“The goal is to develop a brief screening tool that can be used by pharmacists to better address potential medication adherence barriers in these patients when treating chronic disease,” he says. “We will be utilizing these results in our work funded by this new grant.”

Karen Pellegrin pictured
Karen Pellegrin

Sumida is co-investigator of the new project along with Karen Pellegrin, director of continuing and distance education and strategic planning at the pharmacy college.

Pellegrin has led teams to win more than $30,000,000 in competitive federal grants for UH Hilo since joining the College of Pharmacy in 2008. She served as principal investigator and project director for the Pharm2Pharm program, a highly successful program that advanced pharmacist-led care models while providing educational and professional opportunities for many students.

With the new grant, UH is one of only three minority-serving institutions receiving this kind of federal award to help advance health equity affecting racial and ethnic minority groups; people with disabilities; members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community; individuals with limited English proficiency; those residing in rural areas; and those adversely affected by persistent poverty or inequality.

Read full media release.

By Susan Enright, a public information specialist for the Office of the Chancellor and editor of UH Hilo Stories.

Share this story