FORT WAYNE - Manchester University is taking its pharmacogenomics master's degree program online. Classes for the online program, which is the first and only master's degree of its kind in the country, will begin in May.

Pharmacogenomics studies how genes affect a person's response to drugs. The traditional version of the program was announced last year and began in May 2016 on Manchester's Fort Wayne campus.

The online program will last two years at a tuition rate comparable to the traditional program. Manchester says it will offer a bench research track, designed for current laboratory technicians or those with a science-related bachelor's degree, as well as a clinical track, designed for health care providers.

"PGx not only improves patient care dramatically, it revolutionizes the way we approach medicine," said Manchester President Dave McFadden. "We can be proud that Manchester University is now a national leader in this emerging field."

When the traditional program was announced, the university said graduates would be entering what could be a $26 billion industry by 2021.