The University of Washington School of Pharmacy has announced the appointment of Dr. Ken Thummel to Associate Dean for Research and New Initiatives. This newly created role was designed to leverage the School’s expertise in drug metabolism/ disposition, drug interactions and outcomes research with the increasing opportunities for UW-wide and region-wide inter-disciplinary research.
Dr. Ken Thummel has facilitated previous multi-disciplinary research, including programs that have led to an improved understanding of adverse toxicities associated with anticoagulant and calcineurin inhibitor therapy. “In this new role, I plan to further the development of the Pharmacogenomic research initiative led by the School of Pharmacy,” Thummel said.
This new role ensures that the School of Pharmacy is on the forefront of interdisciplinary research and continues to build on already established research programs within Thummel’s laboratory and those of other School of Pharmacy faculty. Currently, Drs. Rodney Ho, Jash Unadkat and Qingcheng Mao (Pharmaceutics), and Allan Rettie (Medicinal Chemistry) are doing joint work to understand the genetic basis for the variability in drug metabolism and transport processes.
In addition, Drs. Thummel, Rettie, Joanne Wang (Pharmaceutics), Jeannine McCune, Mary Hebert and Dave Veenstra (Pharmacy) are working together on interactive RO1 proposals to NIH entitled “Pharmacogenomics of Adverse Drug Reactions.” The diverse faculty team, “brings together individual strengths in genotypic and phenotypic testing,” said Thummel, “as well as the conduct of clinical pharmaceutical research, and economic outcome and policy analysis.”
Dr. Thummel currently serves as Professor of Pharmaceutics with a research focus on mechanisms of inter-individual variability in CTP3A expression and catalytic activity; pharmacokinetic modeling of human intestinal, and hepatic drug metabolism and drug-drug interaction.
He is also the Deputy Director of the Institute for Public Health Genetics at the University of Washington. This multidisciplinary research and training program, housed in the School of Public Health, seeks to enhance the understanding of ethical, social and legal dilemmas that may arise during the translation of basic genomic research into healthcare and public policy.
“I am interested in the clinical and social impact of genetic testing for mutations in drug disposition genes that vary in frequency among different racial groups,” Dr. Thummel said, “particularly where the gene product also metabolizes (activates or detoxifies) different toxins that are encountered in our modern environment.”
This appointment corresponds with the University of Washington’s recent announcement of the new Genome and Bioengineering Center being constructed next to the School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences building. The physical positioning of the Genome Center will facilitate broad collaborative research work, including that of School of Pharmacy faculty, especially as new discoveries are made on the effects of the human genetic code related to pharmaceutical care and drug development.