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.

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.