Interview with Andrew McLachlan

Andrew McLachlan

Head of School and Dean of Pharmacy
Sydney Pharmacy School
University of Sydney, AU


It’s a treat for me to hear from Andrew, who was one of my favourite lecturers during my Pharmacy studies at Sydney University, and certainly someone who contributed to my passion for research. Andrew shares about research work at the Faculty, where he is Dean, which combines in vitro, PKPB modelling and various types of clinical data to answer questions about drug interactions. Andrew will co-chair the ‘Translational science of antidoping – investigating pure performance’ symposium at the Congress on Tuesday (see preliminary program)..


Can you tell us a little bit about your respective roles? What is a typical day like for you?

I have the privilege to train bright young pharmacy students at The University of Sydney. In my role as Head of School I get to work with our talented staff Like many people, there is no such thing as a typical day. This week I am teaching our Master of Pharmacy students about pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics (my favorite topics!) combining clinical examples with fundamental aspects of pharmaceutical science. I have meetings with our leadership group in the University, planning future strategies, welcome visitors to our School and the University, chat with former students and alumni and international guests. What I enjoy most is meeting with research students and collaborators.

Is there anything that your laboratory does, or that is done at your hospital or centre, that you would consider innovative?

The Sydney Pharmacy school has a strong focus on translational research. We have researchers involved in innovative nano-scale drug delivery, fundamentally medicinal chemistry and molecule pharmacology to address the challenges of neurological diseases, cancer, diabetes, asthma, cardiovascular disease and serious infection, developing biological medicines with optimal pharmaceutical properties, establishing molecular targets for disease with a focus on transporters, innovations in clinical practice and primary health care, developments in medicines policy and evidence, and investigating the optimal use of medicines in vulnerable populations such as older people and the very young.

Research students in my lab work on ethnic differences in real world response to tyrosine kinase inhibitors, investigate herb-drug interactions (including curcumin and imatinib) through in vitro studies combined with PBPK modelling, and strategies to reduce antimicrobial resistance.

What technological innovations have entered into use during your career that have permitted a change, or evolution, in practice?

The development and utility of modelling and simulation platforms and technology to guide research and inform practice has changes the way we generate and apply evidence. Pharmacometrics has developed into a core discipline that impacts on every aspect of clinical pharmacology and toxicology.

How did you become interested in your area of expertise?

My training was in pharmacokinetics, but it was a postdoc at St Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney working with Professors Susan Tett and Ric Day that shaped my interest in TDM. Seeing the application of PK/PD principles in therapeutics in the hospital and being involved in TDM research was transformative for me. At that time, I also attended the IATDMCT 1999 congress in Cairns which helped me realize TDM was a global thing!

Is there anything that you’ve seen or heard about recently and thought “I’d like to incorporate that idea at my center”?

The person-centered approach to care is happening. I am keen to see this included more in TDM with a focus on shared decision making. Research and advocates for this approach say “No decision about me, without me”. I think that could transform our approach to healthcare, especially TDM.

What sort of research do you have on the horizon that you think might influence clinical practice in the future?

Our interest in drug interactions with a focus on combining various data – from in vitro studies, PBPK simulations, controlled phenotyping studies in healthy participants, prospective real world clinical studies in patients and pharmacoepidemiological studies in patient populations provides a rigorous platform to inform practice.

What do you consider is the future for TDM and CT? What are you excited about? What are the challenges we face?

The future is about better integrated systems especially in digital health. The expansion and integration of digital healthcare and big data continues to grow – especially when point of care testing and wearables will provide real time therapeutic drug monitoring integrated into health systems. Managing these complex systems is the challenge.


The content of the IATDMCT Blog does not necessarily have the endorsement of the Association.
Andrew McLachlan