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While some would like to drape the mantle “The father of pharmacogenomics” on Richard Weinshilboum, M.D., the scientist parries: “The only thing that I’m father of is my two children.”
That attitude may help explain why Mayo recently received the third renewal of several five-year, multi-million dollar grants courtesy of the Pharmacogenomics Research Network (PGRN) — a nationwide network of prestigious interdisciplinary research groups launched by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in 2000. Of the 18 proposals approved for large genomewide studies under collaboration with the Riken Center for Genomic Medicine in Japan, fully one-third are based at Mayo.
“Modern drugs are very powerful agents that can do great good but also great harm,” says Dr. Weinshilboum. “Pharmacogenomics studies the effects of genes on human response to drugs, with the goal of minimizing drug reactions that can be life-threatening and maximizing the desired therapeutic effect that can cure terrible diseases.”