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Meet our Affiliate Scientist, Dr. Jo-Anne Wilson

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Dr. Jo-Anne Wilson, affiliate scientist with Nova Scotia Health Innovation Hub

By: Allison Currie

 

Dr. Jo-Anne Wilson (BSc.Pharm, ACPR, MEd, PharmD) is an Affiliate Scientist with Nova Scotia Health, and an Associate Professor in Pharmacy with the Faculty of Health, College of Pharmacy at Dalhousie University. She also holds the following appointments: 

  • Cross Appointment, Associate Professor with the Department of Medicine (Nephrology) (July 1, 2022) 

  • Scientific Affiliate (Research) with Nova Scotia Health Research, Innovation and Discovery (June 27, 2023)  

  • Associate Scientists with the Maritime SPOR Support Unit (October 23, 2023) 

Can you tell us a little bit about your field of research? 

My research focuses on pharmacotherapy management in individuals living with chronic kidney disease with the goal of improving patient outcomes and optimizing medication use. This includes prescribing and deprescribing initiatives, development of innovative models of care, creation of information technology tools, and the evaluation of drug pharmacokinetics.  

My research team is currently engaged in the development, implementation and evaluation of an Electronic Drug Dosing and Decision Support Kidney (eDoseCKD) tool for Nova Scotia Primary Care Community Pharmacists. The aim of this tool is to improve medication safety of high-risk medications commonly used in primary care in individuals with advanced kidney disease.   

Another research initiative underway is Optimizing Prescribing for Individuals with CKD in Type 2 Diabetes through the Development and Evaluation of a Decision Support Tool for Community Pharmacists.  

Both projects aim to protect and preserve kidney function through appropriate prescribing. Funding for this research is through Research Nova Scotia, Nova Scotia Health Research Foundation and the Dalhousie Pharmacy Endowment Fund. 

What led you to this field/inspired you to do this work? 

One in ten individuals have chronic kidney disease (CKD). Advanced age, polypharmacy (taking more than five medications), and multimorbidity (two or more chronic conditions) are common in those with CKD. Many drugs are removed by the kidneys and as kidney function declines, drugs can build up and cause harm.  

It became apparent working in this patient population that there was a great need to develop medication optimization strategies to enhance drug safety. Working alongside colleagues in nephrology, pharmacy and nursing, as well as patient partners, has led to impactful outcomes from various research initiatives.  

An example of the latter was the co-creation, implementation, and evaluation of Ambulatory Medication Reconciliation at Nova Scotia Health which is also integrated into the provincial drug information system portal for prescribers delivering ambulatory care services in Nova Scotia. After many years working as a pharmacist in nephrology, I recently pivoted to focus and expand my research program in a tenure track position with the Faculty of Health at Dalhousie University. As a Scientific Affiliate with Nova Scotia Health, it has been exciting for me to be able to build upon my network of collaborators to deepen the impact of my research. 

How does your research translate into healthcare solutions for the patient/public? 

I hope my current research will impact the healthcare system by addressing the gap in medication safety and prescribing in vulnerable individuals with CKD in primary care. I hypothesize that having validated, evidence-based, and expert informed prescribing and decision support tools for community pharmacists will reduce the risk of medication harm and kidney disease progression. I believe this research supports health-care delivery excellence and accountability by enabling the full scope of pharmacists practice in community settings. It has the potential to improve access to people-centered, flexible, and quality health care in those with CKD in their own community. This research may support greater patient and clinician awareness of using medications effectively and safely with kidney disease. 

What is the biggest challenge/opportunity in your field of research? 

Biggest challenge: Research requires significant time commitments and balancing or juggling other responsibilities can be challenging.  

Biggest opportunity: Innovation is everywhere and there are endless opportunities for anyone in the health system to get involved in research and make a difference.  

Why is research and participation in research important? 

Research is an important aspect of care. It generates new knowledge and insights to improve health outcomes. It fosters innovation, collaboration, creativity, and discovery which enables us to use our collective strengths to address gaps and find solutions in healthcare with lasting results.  

What does the ideal future in your field of research look like to you?  

One which enables equitable access to innovative patient-centered CKD medication management strategies. Increasing public awareness of kidney disease and importance of early detection and prevention to reduce burden of disease. Ideally, having patient engagement across the continuum of my research to ensure it is relevant and aligns with their preferences and priorities. Finally, having more researchers engaged in kidney research. 

 

There are over 100 affiliate scientists working with various teams across Research, Innovation and Discovery at Nova Scotia Health. The contributions they make to our healthcare system enable Nova Scotia Health to attract and retain students and future health researchers as well as other leading scientists from across the globe.   

Research is care, and clinical studies help translate research into potentially life-changing therapies that can help you, your friends and your loved ones. Want to know more about how to get involved? Visit Nova Studies Connect today: novastudiesconnect.ca  

 

Tags: World Kidney Day, Pharmacy Awareness Month, Chronic Kidney Disease,