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NIH Grant Awarded to the Department of Pharmaceutics for study on how pregnant women handle drugs

The UW Department of Pharmaceutics won an unprecedented grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) that will enable UW researchers to examine how drugs are handled by pregnant women. The University of Washington was one of just 11 universities nationwide to receive this prestigious Specialized Centers of Research (SCOR) grant from the NIH.

“The SCOR initiative marks a great leap forward in NIH support for multidisciplinary research on women’s health,” said Dr. Vivian W. Pinn, Director of the NIH Office of Research on Women’s Health (ORWH).

Taking its lead from the Federal Government, which has called for greater research in this area, the ORWH awarded the Department of Pharmaceutics $1,106,289 a year for five years. The Department of Pharmaceutics was selected for this grant on the basis of having three highly meritorious interdisciplinary research projects. This first-of-its-kind grant will enable School researchers to conduct projects that have the single goal of determining how drugs are absorbed, distributed and eliminated by pregnant women. The projects will also investigate how drugs are transported across the placenta. Findings from these studies will help physicians prescribe more appropriate doses of drugs to treat pregnant women and their unborn children.

The grant is headed up by Dr. Jash Unadkat (Pharmaceutics) and involves three distinct projects. In the first by Drs. Unadkat, Thummel (Pharmaceutics), Hebert (Pharmacy) and Easterling (Obs. & Gynecol.) will address why disposition of anti-HIV protease inhibitors is altered during pregnancy. The second project by Drs. Mao and Unadkat, will study the role of the Breast Cancer Resistance Protein, an efflux transporter, in the disposition of drugs during pregnancy. The third project by Dr. Vadivel Ganapathy of the Medical College of Georgia will focus on the role of an influx transporter, the Organic Cation Transporter 3, in the disposition of drugs during pregnancy.

This grant is a critical component of the Department of Pharmaceutics expansion of research in the direction of drug transport. Drug transport is emerging as an important contributor to drug disposition. For this reason, as part of its strategic plans, the Department of Pharmaceutics has identified expansion of research in this area as a major goal. In this regard, the Department recently recruited two new faculty members, Dr. Joanne Wang and Dr. Qingcheng Mao whose background, expertise and research is focused in the area of drug transport.


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