Skip to main content

Alumni News

Genetic Code-breaker

Alumna Kathleen Giacomini Receives Distinguished Investigator Award from American College of Clinical Pharmacology

UH College of Pharmacy alumna Kathleen M. Giacomini, Ph.D., B.S. ('74), professor and chair of the Department of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences at the University of California, San Francisco, has been honored with the American College of Clinical Pharmacology's 2014 Distinguished Investigator Award at the ACCP Annual Meeting Sept. 14-16 in Atlanta, Ga. 

ACCP's annual Distinguished Investigator Award is intended to recognize superior scientific expertise and accomplishments by a senior investigator, usually involving a distinct area of research in basic or clinical pharmacology, for which the individual is internationally known.

According to the announcement on the ACCP website, "Dr. Giacomini is receiving this award for her seminal work in the area of transporter polymorphisms. She represents the best of the translational, laboratory-based approach to the discipline of clinical pharmacology. Her work is well recognized, and she has risen quickly through the academic ranks."

Giacomini is a nationally recognized leader in the field of pharmacogenomics, specifically in the area of membrane transporter genomics and the role of these proteins in drug targeting, disposition and response. A major focus of her work is identifying genetic variation in transporter genes and understanding how those differences can alter drug response. 

Giacomini helped discover about 50 coding and more than 100 promoter region variants in transporters that alter pharmacological effects in diverse populations. She is applying these findings to investigate the interactions between gene variants and specific drugs, particularly the antidiabetic drug metformin. Giacomini has found that certain variants reduce the uptake of metformin and produce different responses in two racial groups.

After graduating from UHCOP, Giacomini completed a Ph.D. in pharmaceutics at the State University of New York at Buffalo and conducted postdoctoral research at the Stanford University School of Medicine before joining UCSF. Giacomini has received continous funding from the National Institutes of Health since 1979, beginning Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award for Individual Postdoctoral Fellows, and has authored or coauthored more than 200 publications.    

Her impressive career includes such honors as the Rawls-Palmer Progress in Medicine Award from the American Society for Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics; the Therapeutic Frontiers Lecture Award from the American College of Clinical Pharmacy; the Distinguished Scientist Award in Drug Metabolism from the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists; the Paul Dawson Biotechnology Award from the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy; and election to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies.