Vasco Pontinha, M.Pharm., MBA

Vasco Pontinha — a Ph.D. candidate in health outcomes and pharmacoeconomics under CPPI core faculty member David Holdford — won the 2021 Predoctoral Fellowship in Health Outcomes Research from the PhRMA Foundation, which gives him $25,000 to use in completing his dissertation.

“This award provides me the opportunity to pursue a research project that I am truly passionate about,” he said. “I am very humbled by the opportunity. Academia is an environment with delayed gratification, so seeing your research questions deemed important by another organization, and especially the PhRMA Foundation, serves as confirmation of the relevance of your work.”

The goal of his project — “Trajectories of medication non-adherence with time-varying predictors and association with clinical and economic outcomes: a comparison of classical statistical methods with machine learning algorithms” — is to enhance the current methods used to describe longitudinal trends in medication adherence and discuss whether current value-based payment models that reward improvements in medication adherence actually reflect improvements in patient outcomes. 

“The fluid nature of medication adherence makes it hard to identify which patient- and context-specific characteristics are predictors of changes in medication adherence and what is the optimal medication adherence behavior,” Pontinha said. “This project will help identify the developmental perspective of how patients establish their medication adherence behavior patterns while identifying the life-changing events or time-varying predictors of medication adherence to help health care professionals design targeted interventions.”

The PhRMA Foundation’s Predoctoral Fellowship in Health Outcomes Research award provides $25,000 per year in stipend support to promising students (U.S. and non-U.S. citizens) during advanced stages of training and thesis research and for the career development of scientists prepared to engage in health outcomes research.

The PhRMA Foundation works to improve public health by proactively investing in innovative research, education and value-driven health care. For more than 56 years, the foundation has been helping advance scientific research and innovation to benefit patients. Since its founding in 1965, it has distributed more than $100 million to support these efforts.

The Center for Pharmacy Practice Innovation at VCU School of Pharmacy helps pharmacists optimize patient outcomes by being a leader in transforming ambulatory and community pharmacy practice and advancing pharmacists’ roles on patient-centered, collaborative care teams. Learn more at

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