Kroetz elected fellow of American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists

Deanna Kroetz, PhD, UCSF School of Pharmacy faculty member, has been elected as a fellow of the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists (AAPS). Her election was announced during the November 2008 annual AAPS meeting in Atlanta, Georgia.

The AAPS confers the honor of fellow to recognize individuals for professional excellence and outstanding contributions that elevate the stature of the pharmaceutical sciences. The primary criterion for selection as an AAPS Fellow is professional competence reflected through scholarly and research contributions to the pharmaceutical sciences. These include original articles, scientific presentations at AAPS annual meetings and patents.

Kroetz has broad research interests in drug metabolism, drug transport, and pharmacogenetics. Her current research emphasis is on the functional effects of genetic variations, or polymorphisms, in ABC membrane transporters. ABC transporters are a class of proteins that affect the movement of drugs and natural molecules into and out of cells. Kroetz is investigating links between specific polymorphisms in membrane transporters and drug-metabolizing enzymes and drug-induced toxicity.

"We are working to better understand how changes in the DNA sequences of ABC transporter genes change the functions of these proteins, and moving the research into clinical studies," Kroetz says. "We are looking at how genetic changes lead to changes in drug resistance in cancer therapy, and at how individual genetic variations can result in drug toxicity in treating HIV."

Kroetz is studying liver toxicity in combination therapies used to treat HIV infection. One study group of about 400 participants, all of whom are receiving the same drug regimen, is in Uganda. Another group of 500 participants, primarily homeless men in the San Francisco Bay Area, is more ethnically and genetically diverse, and varies more in individual treatment and adherence to treatment.

Kroetz is a co-leader in a study to examine genetic variations and drug toxicity among nearly 1,000 women with breast cancer. One group of women whose genes and drug responses are being analyzed have been treated with paclitaxel, which can result in peripheral neuropathy—a nerve disorder that often begins with tingling, burning or numbness in the extremities. Another group of women has been treated with doxorubicin, which can cause neutropenia—a loss of infection-fighting immune cells.

In another cancer study, Kroetz is looking into drug resistance among people with acute myelogenous leukemia (AML), a cancer in which immature white blood cells in the bone marrow proliferate in an uncontrolled way. The patients were treated with standard chemotherapy—a combination of the drugs Ara-C, daunorubicin and etoposide. The researchers are thawing and examining DNA from living AML cells that were frozen in liquid nitrogen as part of three earlier studies. There are cells from 1,800 AML cases.

About the School: The UCSF School of Pharmacy is a premier graduate-level academic organization dedicated to improving health through precise therapeutics. It succeeds through innovative research, by educating PharmD health professional and PhD science students, and by caring for the therapeutics needs of patients while exploring innovative new models of patient care. The School was founded in 1872 as the first pharmacy school in the American West. It is an integral part of UC San Francisco, a leading university dedicated to promoting health worldwide.