Graduate Students Earn Top Awards at International Pharmacoeconomics Conference

Graduate students Yifan Xu and Nikhil Bhagvandas (pictured with associate professor Jeffrey McCombs at the Leonard D. Schaeffer Center for Health Policy & Economics at USC) took home top honors at the 21st annual meeting of International Society for Pharmacoeconomics and Outcomes Research (ISPOR) in Washington D.C.

Graduate students from USC’s program in Health Economics have won one or more of the six student presentation awards at the annual meeting of International Society for Pharmacoeconomics and Outcomes Research (ISPOR) in nine of the last 10 years.

This year was no exception, with USC students winning awards for best student poster and best student podium presentation at the society’s 21st annual meeting, which took place in Washington D.C. May 21-25. Students and their faculty mentors are based at the Leonard D. Schaeffer Center for Health Policy & Economics at USC, one of the nation’s top health policy groups.

Masters student Nikhil Bhagvandas won the Best Student Poster Research Award out of several hundred entries for his poster, co-authored by Joel W. Hay, PhD, on cost-effectiveness of three therapies used in the treatment of bipolar disorder depression.

Second-year doctoral student Yifan Xu won the Best Student Podium Research Award for her presentation on comparative effectiveness of two treatments for patients with metastatic colorectal cancer. The presentation was co-authored by Hay and Afsaneh Barzi, MD, assistant professor of clinical medicine.

Both research papers built on requirements in professor Joel W. Hay’s course on cost-effectiveness modeling methods taught to students at the end of their first year in the graduate program. “Dr. Hay’s class is one of the key elements in the Health Economics program and class projects were used as the starting point for six of the 17 student posters/podium presentations presented by USC students at this year’s ISPOR meeting in Washington D.C.,” explains associate professor Jeffrey McCombs, director of graduate studies at the School of Pharmacy.

ISPOR is recognized globally as the leading educational and scientific organization for health economics and outcomes research and its use in health care decisions.

“It was fascinating to witness the number of professionals that attended the meeting from across the globe,” says Bhagvandas. “This meeting made me understand the importance of sharing knowledge and learning more about the ever-growing field of pharmacoeconomics and outcomes research.”

The 21st Annual ISPOR International meeting examined drug development, regulatory issues, and decision making through the lens of Value, Affordability, and Patient Centeredness, featuring more than 1,850 research presentations in the form of workshops, issue panels, forums, symposia, and podium and poster presentations on innovative research methods, health policy development using outcomes research, patient preferences, real world data, and clinical, economic, and patient-reported outcomes.