College Partners on Activities at 2021 Minnesota State Fair

October 14, 2021

Two University of Minnesota students presenting information

Minneapolis/St. Paul

Oct. 14, 2021

University of Minnesota (UMN) College of Pharmacy (Twin Cities) and UMN Medical School (Duluth) faculty, students, and staff teamed together at the 2021 Minnesota State Fair to ask Minnesotans about their beliefs and perceptions regarding the innovative science of pharmacogenomics (PGx). PGx is the study of the role of genetic variants in medication response. Some genetic variants may result in the increased likelihood of adverse side effects or may reduce medication efficacy. The clinical implementation of PGx can reduce trial and error of medications, prevent adverse reactions, maximize efficacy, and better optimize medication therapy to each unique individual. However, the implementation of PGx into practice has proved slow and challenging even at academic medical centers due to a lack of education, infrastructure needs, cost, and perceptions about PGx testing and data storage.

The University’s Driven to Discover (D2D) Research Facility, located on the Minnesota State Fairgrounds, enables researchers to better connect with the Minnesota community. Since 2014, the D2D building has welcomed thousands of fairgoers interested in participating in and learning about the multitude of research projects going on at the University of Minnesota. Because little research to date has been done on the opinions of Minnesotans regarding PGx testing and research, the “How Do Your Genes Fit?” team ultimately aimed to identify individual tolerance and acceptability for data sharing to support a statewide PGx platform in Minnesota. The survey was administered via iPad and took about 15 minutes to complete. It included questions regarding demographics, health literacy, perceptions / beliefs / knowledge of PGx and privacy, and medication use. The project was led by investigators Catherine McCarty, Pamala Jacobson, Jeffrey Bishop, and Brenna Doheny and staff Alyssa Johnson and Erin McGonagle. UMN undergraduate students, graduate students, staff, and faculty worked together to answer questions, enroll participants, and administer the survey. The research team spent five shifts at the 2021 Great Minnesota Get-Together and enrolled 815 participants. At each shift, there were three to four research volunteers administering the surveys and speaking with fairgoers about PGx. Although there was fear of lower attendance than usual, the D2D facility still saw thousands of fairgoers daily and the enrollment goal was easily met within the five shifts. All participants were Minnesotan residents 18 years of age or older that spoke English. Participating in 2021 D2D provided a great opportunity to get out into the community and speak to Minnesotans about PGx. The D2D team is hoping to attend the fair in the future and gauge evolving attitudes about PGx as it becomes more prevalent in Minnesota. 

A special thank you to the full research team: Catherine McCarty, Pamala Jacobson, Alyssa Johnson, Jeffrey Bishop, Lusi Zhang, Erin McGonagle, Josiah Allen, Jay Wen, Tin Vo, Sean McCarty, Abdelrahman Saqr, Woojong Park, Steve Johnson, David Gregornik, Adam Lee and Brenna Doheny.

Media Contacts

Dawn Tucker
College of Pharmacy
Eileen Omizo-Whittenberg
College of Pharmacy