Oni-Orisan given the Darrell Abernethy Early Stage Investigator Award

Akinyemi Oni-Orisan, PharmD, PhD, received the Darrell Abernethy Early Stage Investigator Award from the American Society for Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics in April.

The award is intended to foster the growth of early-career scientists and honors the memory of Darrell Abernethy, MD, PhD, a leader and advocate in the field of clinical pharmacology.

Oni-Orisan will use the award to continue his investigation into statins, a class of drugs that lowers cholesterol and prevents heart attacks. By analyzing the health care records of a large group of patients who take these drugs, Oni-Orisan hopes to determine if genetics or other factors can predict who will respond well to statins and who won’t.

The approach uses “big data” to address a well-known problem in many clinical trials: recruited participants do not always reflect the diversity of a population, leaving some groups underrepresented. As a result, many patients end up being prescribed drugs that haven’t been tested in people who share their demographic and genetic background.

“For a variety of reasons clinical trials tend to be homogenous,” Oni-Orisan says. “But electronic health records reflect everyone who has visited a hospital or a clinic, and that’s naturally going to produce a more diverse data set.”

The massive trove of data, anonymized to protect patients’ health privacy, can be trawled to uncover when drugs don’t work on certain populations, leading to new insights that may ensure that patients receive the best-possible personalized treatments.

Oni-Orisan, a faculty member in the Department of Clinical Pharmacy, joined the School of Pharmacy in 2017 after completing a postdoctoral fellowship in the Clinical Pharmacology Training Program at UC San Francisco.

Like many of his peers, Oni-Orisan has recently pivoted some of his research efforts to COVID-19, investigating adverse cardiovascular outcomes of COVID-19 therapies using observational data.


School of Pharmacy, Department of Clinical Pharmacy, PharmD Degree Program

About the School: The UCSF School of Pharmacy aims to solve the most pressing health care problems and strives to ensure that each patient receives the safest, most effective treatments. Our discoveries seed the development of novel therapies, and our researchers consistently lead the nation in NIH funding. The School’s doctor of pharmacy (PharmD) degree program, with its unique emphasis on scientific thinking, prepares students to be critical thinkers and leaders in their field.