UCSF

Kathy Giacomini, PhD

Phone: +1 415 476-1936
Fax: +1 415 514-4361
1550 4th Street, Bldg 19B, Rm 590D
UCSF Box 2911
San Francisco, CA 94158
United States

What I do

My research focuses on membrane transporters, which are of great physiologic and pharmacologic importance. I am particularly interested in genetic variants in membrane transporters that are determinants of drug response or causal for human disease and in harnessing transporters to enhance drug targeting.

My research expertise

pharmaceutical sciences, pharmacogenomics, transporter biology

Degrees

PhD, Pharmaceutical Sciences, University at Buffalo (The State University of New York), 1979
BSc, Pharmacy, University of Houston, 1974

Biography

The Giacomini research group focuses on expanding our understanding of membrane transporters. Membrane transporters are of great biological and pharmacological importance, as they play a major role in human physiology and in drug disposition and response. Major questions addressed in the laboratory include: What is the function of orphan membrane transporters? What is the in vivo role of membrane transporters in the disposition of endogenous solutes as well as in drug disposition and response? How does genetic variation in membrane transporters affect solute disposition, human disease and drug response? What are the structural determinants of specificity?

Dr. Kathy Giacomini is leading an effort to deorphan transporters in the Solute Carrier 22 Family, and to determine the clinical implications of specific genetic variants in membrane transporters. Research ventures, ranging from basic discovery to clinical studies, have demonstrated that common variants of membrane transporters contribute to differences in drug response in ethnically diverse populations. Ultimately, these studies will increase our knowledge of the genetic basis underlying drug response and will contribute to advancing the era of personalized medicine. Furthermore, our studies will elucidate the genetic mechanisms of decreased drug response and, ultimately, contribute to improving drug design for safe and effective treatments of subgroups of patients who do not respond to standard treatments.

Research in the laboratory focuses on drugs used in the treatment of diseases associated with metabolic syndrome. We are particularly interested in identifying the genetic determinants of the anti-diabetic drugs, metformin and sulfonylureas, highly prescribed drugs. In particular, our research focuses on discovering functional genetic variants that underlie variation in response to these drugs in large ethnically diverse patient populations. Finally, Kathy Giacomini and her collaborator, Russ Altman of Stanford University are the Co-PIs of the UCSF–Stanford Center of Excellence in Regulatory Sciences and Innovation (CERSI) funded by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Established in 2014 and renewed in 2021, the UCSF-Stanford CERSI aims to advance the field of regulatory sciences and improve the development and evaluation of diagnostics, therapeutics and medical devices. The UCSF-Stanford CERSI is the first FDA funded CERSI on the west coast and seeks to address key challenges related to education and research that will advance the discovery and development of medical products.

DEI Statement: As a biracial woman faculty member with ancestries in the Philippines and Europe, I am deeply committed to issues of diversity, equity and inclusion. I am a strong advocate for graduate students and postdocs of diverse ancestries and particularly under-represented minorities (URM). In my career, I have been the academic advisor for students who are URMs and who now have vibrant careers in academia and industry. My mentoring style is very personal. That is, I tailor my advising of each trainee to their career goals and aspirations, helping them to achieve these goals. On the recommendation of my students, I have institute diversity presentations as part of our regularly scheduled research group meetings. We begin each research group meeting with a diversity presentation, given by an individual group member, who describes some aspect of their cultural background. These are fun and educational and build an inclusive and welcoming environment in my laboratory. As the co-PI of the UCSF-Stanford Center of Excellence in Regulatory Sciences and Innovation, CERSI, we established a CERSI Diversity Scholars Program in 2021 and have now made four awards to the scholars (students or postdocs) at UCSF from diverse ethnic backgrounds. My personal goal is to promote diversity, equity and inclusion at UCSF.

Research keywords

  • regulatory sciences
  • Solute Carrier Superfamily
  • Metformin
  • bioengineering
  • transporters
  • SLC22
  • pharmacogenetics
  • drug development
  • membrane transporters
  • therapeutics
  • pharmacogenomics
  • pharmaceutical sciences
  • Organic Cation Transporter 1
  • Metformin
  • pharmacogenetics
  • excipients
  • pharmacokinetics
  • Membrane Transport Proteins
  • Organic Cation Transport Proteins
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations
  • Organic Anion Transporters
  • Hypoglycemic Agents
  • Carrier Proteins
  • Polymorphism, Genetic
  • drug interactions
  • kidney
  • Organic Anion Transporters, Sodium-Independent