Studies will focus on membrane transporters and expand existing U.S.-Japan alliance.

Scientists at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) have won two NIH grants worth a total of $15.1 million to fund pharmacogenomics research designed to probe the genetics behind membrane transporters and drug response, and also expand the Global Alliance for Pharmacogenomics, an existing U.S.-Japan initiative. Both of the UCSF projects will be led by Kathleen Giacomini, Ph.D., co-chair of the department of bioengineering and therapeutic sciences.

The membrane transporter grant, worth $11.9 million, will cover multidisciplinary research at UCSF and other research institutes. Cell-based studies will be accompanied by clinical research, including a lead study focused on genetic factors involved in the response to metformin in African American patients with type 2 diabetes. This study will be carried out in collaboration with scientists at Kaiser Permanente Northern California and Kaiser Southeast.

The second grant, worth $3.2 million, will help fund expansion of the Global Alliance for Pharmacogenomics, which partners NIH-funded scientists involved in the national Pharmacogenomics Research Network with scientists at Riken Institute’s Center for Genomic Medicine in Japan. The funded work will focus on large genomic studies evaluating patients’ responses to a range of drug types, with a view to identifying genetic markers of therapeutics and/or adverse drug responses in multiple racial and ethnic populations. “This research requires analysis of vast amounts of data that can only be tackled through collaborative efforts among scientists and clinicians in many institutions,” Dr. Giacomini says. In May the Global Alliance for Pharmacogenomics added four new projects to its remit, bringing the total to 18. The new research programs will focus on asthma, acute myelogenous leukemia, bone fractures in women with breast cancer, and depression.

The UCSF team claims to have received the largest slice of grants awarded through the NIH’s $161.3 million drive to expand the Pharmacogenomics Research Network.

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