Clinicians and patients recognize that not every person responds to drugs in the same way. Some drugs carry a risk of adverse reactions that often seem to occur by chance. Even drugs that are well-tolerated may be highly effective at low doses in some patients, and minimally effective at high doses in others.
The Human Genome Project has established the initial sequence of all human DNA. In doing so, the Genome Project enabled study of how variations among patient genomes affects why disease develops in some patients and not in others. Pharmacogenetics is the study of how individual DNA variations affect drug responses, and the term pharmacogenomics is often used to describe how many variations in an individual patient, or in large groups of patients, affect the outcome of drug therapy.
Vanderbilt University is a center of excellence in the study of mechanisms underlying individual variability in response to drug therapy. This work reaches from basic science to clinical medicine, and includes studies of metabolism and transport of many drugs, as well as, specific studies of drug therapies in diverse clinical settings such as arrhythmias, hypertension, autonomic dysfunction, psychiatric disease, cancer, HIV infection, and recovery from anesthesia.
Research Centers with a special focus on pharmacogenetics and pharmacogenomics include the Division of Clinical Pharmacology, the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, the Center for Molecular Neuroscience, the Vanderbilt-Meharry Center for AIDS Research, the Division of Genetic Medicine, the General Clinical Research Center, the Center for Human Genetics Research, and the Center for Genetics and Health Policy. Studies of arrhythmia therapies are supported by Vanderbilt's participation in the NIH-sponsored Pharmacogenetics Research Network.