Ho, Rodney J.Y.
- Affiliate Member of Clinical Pharmacology, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
- Affiliate Faculty of Center for AIDS Research, University of Washington
- Affiliate Investigator of the National Primate Research Center
- Affiliate Investigator, Center on Human Development and Disability, University of Washington
- Investigator, Center for Ecogenetics and Environmental Health
His research interests are in elucidating mechanisms of protein and drug disposition, and genetic basis of inter-individual variation in therapeutic responses. Fundamental understanding of these physio- and biological processes form the basis of the focus of Dr. Ho's research in developing drug delivery strategies for treatment of AIDS and cancers using drugs, DNA, proteins and antigens. All the research programs in his laboratory have the common goal of delivering therapeutic compounds of interest to select target tissues or cells to enhance drug safety and/or efficacy.
Dr. Ho is Professor of Pharmaceutics and Director of the DNA Sequencing and Gene Analysis Center at University of Washington, Seattle. He also holds appointments at Clinical Pharmacology, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, the Center for AIDS and STD Research, the Center for Human Development and Disability, the Center for Ecogenetics at University of Washington, and the Washington National Primate Research Center. He served as an Associate Dean for Research and New Initiatives from 2006 to 2009, and is an associate editor for the J Pharmaceutical Sciences.
He is an elected fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science; and was an elected chair of the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences. He is also an elected fellow of the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists, and is named as one of the top 25 entrepreneurs in the Pacific Northwest. Dr. Ho is a recipient of the prestigious Paul R. Dawson Biotechnology Award in 2009, cited for his teaching and scholarship in biotechnology.
Dr. Ho received his undergraduate degree from the University of California, Davis in 1983, and received his master and Ph.D. in 1985 and 1987, from the University of Tennessee focusing on biochemistry and drug targeting. His post-doctoral fellowship focused on infectious diseases at the Division of Infectious Diseases, Stanford University School of Medicine, before joining the University of Washington, School of Pharmacy as an Assistant Professor in December 1990. Dr. Ho was promoted to associate professor with tenure in 1996 and full professor rank in 2002. In 2003, he founded the DNA Sequence and Gene Analysis Center and serves as the Director for the Center.
Dr. Ho’s accomplishments include 6 patents and more than 12 patent disclosures, over 90 original research publications, 20 book chapters; and two edited books.
He was honored to receive funding notice from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) within 3 months of his arrival at UW. As a principal investigator, he leads multiple interdisciplinary biomedical research programs in HIV/AIDS and cancer focusing on novel strategies to improve drug effectiveness and safety. He enjoys continuous support from NIH totaling over $ 12 M. His creativity and accomplishments are also recognized by peers at the national level, as he is invited to serve on expert NIH panels chartered to review grant proposals submitted to the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, the National Cancer Institute, and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
His outstanding contributions to the biomedical sciences focus on improving anti-HIV and cancer drug effectiveness and safety. His noted research in elucidation of physio- and biological processes involved in virus and drug disposition forms the basis for developing novel drug-delivery strategies. His research intended to addresses HIV hide-out was highlighted in a recently published manuscript, which demonstrated drug insufficiency in lymph nodes of HIV patients on drug combination therapy, and acknowledged success in developing a novel drug delivery strategy to improve drug exposure in lymphoid tissues. This proof-of-principle research was also noted by lay press, including Reuters news. One current area of emphasis involves identification and functional characterization of novel genetic variants of ABCB1, the gene encoding the drug transporter P-glycoprotein (Pgp), in patients with leukemia. The P-glycoprotein is also known as the drug resistance protein that reduces effectiveness of many cancer drugs. An underlying principle of this work is the understanding that natural selection of variants of drug disposition genes in mutated cancer cells leads to drug resistance. Understanding the genetic nature or pharmacogenetics of drug resistance may allow patient-focused therapies to enhance treatment outcomes.
Dr. Ho is a passionate teacher who is willing to share his drug delivery and targeting expertise with undergraduate, professional, and graduate students as well as post-doctoral fellows and visiting scientists. He provides a positive environment to strengthen and encourage others to take interest in biomedical sciences. He also assists pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies in developing and improving drug formulation and targeting strategies.
In addition to research, his significant contributions to the pharmaceutical and biomedical sciences include the book entitled, “Biotechnology and Biopharmaceuticals: Transforming Proteins and Genes into Drugs,” which he co-authored with Dr. Milo Gibaldi. This book, which presents the first-ever effort to provide insight into how biologic and recombinant molecules are developed from a concept to a therapeutic product, as well as how these new therapeutic modalities are used in treatments, has become a key resource for students in professional schools, clinicians, and researchers in pharmaceutical companies. A Chinese edition of this book is now available.
In recognition of his accomplishments and his ability to bring together outstanding scientists across disciplines to build top-rated interdisciplinary research programs in cancer and AIDS therapies, he was previously the Milo Gibaldi Endowed Professor in Pharmaceutics. This recognition and honor was particularly significant to Dr. Ho as it is the first endowed professorship established at the UW School of Pharmacy, and he and Dr. Gibaldi had spent countless hours working together on the above mentioned book project.
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