Kathy Giacomini, PhD


Kathy Giacomini's research group focuses on membrane transporters, which are of great pharmacological importance as they play a major role in drug disposition and response. Major questions addressed in the laboratory include: What is the in vivo role of membrane transporters in drug disposition and response? How does genetic variation in membrane transporters affect clinical drug response? What is the endogenous role of membrane transporters? What are the structural determinants of specificity?

As PI of the major project funded by NIH, Pharmacogenetics of Membrane Transporters, Giacomini is leading an effort to understand the implications of genetic variation in over 100 membrane transporters on clinical drug response. Studies of the project, ranging from discovery to clinical studies, have demonstrated that common variants of membrane transporters contribute to variation in drug response. Ultimately, the information obtained from these studies may be used in personalizing drug therapy and may even be used to design drugs to better treat subsets of patients who do not respond to standard treatments.

Research in the laboratory focuses on the anti-diabetic drug, metformin, and on anti-cancer drugs. By mediating influx of efflux in tumor cells, many membrane transporters play critical roles in sensitivity and resistance to anti-cancer drugs. Giacomini and her colleagues seek to determine whether genetic variation in transporters contributes to variation in sensitivity and resistance to anti-cancer drugs. She is particularly interested in modifying anti-cancer drugs to target transporters in tumors thereby enhancing their uptake and efficacy.