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Aerosol School Offers Comprehensive Introduction To Inhaled And Nasal Drugs

Jan 2012

In early April, up to 20 scientists, technicians, and students from around the world will gather in a laboratory at the Firestone Institute for Respiratory Health in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada for an intensive course known as "Aerosol School." Over a three-day period, the 20 participants from industry and academia will learn the basics of aerosol medicine formulation, testing, and delivery.

The goal, explains school founder Myrna Dolovich, is for the participants "to come away with a basic understanding of therapeutic aerosols, considerations for formulation of different types of powders and liquids, how to run the necessary tests for development and registration, and what goes into development of an aerosol delivery device." After that, she says, "they should be able to take the next steps on their own."

Her incentive for starting the program in 2009, Prof. Dolovich says, was simple: she had difficulty finding technicians qualified to work in her lab at Firestone, which is located on the campus of St. Joseph's Healthcare and affiliated with McMaster University. Recognizing the need for basic training in pharmaceutical aerosols, she organized a course featuring a faculty composed of Canadian and US aerosol experts and opened registration not only to Canadian college students but also to scientists, engineers, and clinicians from around the world.

Aerosol School participants have come from as far away as Sweden, Taiwan, and Brazil to learn from an internationally recognized faculty, which includes Daryl Roberts of MSP Corporation, Jolyon Mitchell of Trudell Medical, Lei Mao of Catalent, and Mark Inman of McMaster. Topics include everything from formulation to devices, factors affecting in vitro testing procedures to modelling of aerosol drug delivery. The participants also explore clinical applications ranging from the ambulatory settings to critical care.

Hands-on laboratory sessions give participants, working in teams, the opportunity to learn how to set up the necessary equipment to run a cascade impaction or unit dose measurement, to make measurements, and to recover and analyze samples.

For many of the participants, especially those who work in formulation and manufacturing, the session on devices provides their first real introduction to the variety of delivery systems available, how they are used, and what they are used for. The device session includes a showcase of various MDIs, DPIs, nebulizers, and nasal spray pumps so that participants can get an up-close look at how the different delivery devices work. "I think if someone wants a comprehensive overview of inhalation medicine," says Jeff Breit, Director of Inhalation Technology at Bend Research, who attended Aerosol School in 2011, "it's a great, great class." The lab sessions were particularly valuable, Breit notes, as was having a chance to interact with the other students and the faculty, networking and learning about their various interests in aerosol medicine. Even what he learned about the history of pharmaceutical aerosols turned out to be surprisingly useful, he found.

According to Prof. Dolovich, the organizers adjust the curriculum from year to year based on participant feedback, and the 2012 version of Aerosol School will feature a couple of new topics. Dennis Sandell, a member of the USP Statistics Expert Committee will talk about the design of experiments and evaluation of data to produce data acceptable to regulatory agencies for the registration of pharmaceutical aerosols. In addition, Jim Fink, Adjunct Professor at Georgia State University, and Kevin Stapleton of 'MAP Pharmaceuticals (now working at Allergan Pharmaceuticals) will present a lecture on drug device development titled, "The Ladder to Success and the Road to Ruin."

All participants receive a one-year membership in International Society for Aerosols in Medicine (ISAM) with their registration, and ISAM, along with a few other organizations, provides a certain amount of support, allowing Dolovich to offer free registration for up to five students from McMaster's Biopharm Co-op program.

Anyone wishing to attend the course should contact Myrna Dolovich at

Photos from Aerosol School