BUFFALO, N.Y. – The University at Buffalo’s HIV
Clinical Pharmacology Research Program has received several grants
totaling $1.86 million from the National Institutes of Health (NIH)
to fund new initiatives and partnerships in hepatitis C virus (HCV)
drug development, nanomedicine research for tuberculosis (TB),
pharmacogenomics of neurocognitive disorders for people with
HIV/AIDS and to extend ongoing research projects.
The grant’s principal investigator and director is Gene D.
Morse, PharmD, professor of pharmacy practice and associate
director of UB’s New York State Center of Excellence in
Bioinformatics and Life Sciences (CoE).
“The awards provide additional funding for the UB program
while also expanding our HIV pharmacology research to include drug
development for hepatitis C and tuberculosis,” says
Morse currently directs the AIDS Clinical Trials Group (ACTG)
Clinical Pharmacology Core, a network of laboratories that includes
pharmacology specialty laboratories (PSL) in the U.S., Thailand and
Africa. Morse is also a member of the ACTG Executive Committee and
a member of the ACTG Viral Hepatitis Transformative Science
Some of the funds will be used to support UB’s HIV PSL,
which has received continuous NIH support since 1987.
The UB PSL contributes to clinical pharmacology studies that
investigate new drug treatments and designs and participates in
drug interaction research during new drug development programs. The
UB PSL operates a bioanalytical laboratory that develops and
validates drug assays using innovative applications of liquid
chromatography and mass spectrometry.
The new PSL collaborations in ACTG research include
pharmaceutical partners such as U.S.-based Merck (Philadelphia),
AbbVie (Chicago) and ITherX (San Diego).
A new, competitive funding supplement was also awarded to the
PSL and includes UB’s Paras N. Prasad, SUNY Distinguished
Professor of Chemistry, Physics, Medicine and Electrical
Engineering and executive director of UB’s Institute for
Lasers, Photonics and Biophotonics (ILPB).
This project will bring together the PSL’s bioanalysis
techniques with ILPB’s extensive nanoparticle experience to
create new nanomedicine formulations that incorporate drugs for
tuberculosis using cell-targeted approaches. These approaches
deliver medications directly to the site of TB infection in the
lungs. The work will be conducted in the IPLB and the CoE’s
new nanomedicine laboratory in collaboration with Jessica Reynolds,
PhD, assistant professor from the Department of Medicine,
Division of Allergy, Immunology and Rheumatology in the Clinical
and Translational Research Center.
Funding is also included to continue the expansion of the UB PSL
Precautionary and Prohibited Medications Database, a
pharmacoinformatics database that identifies new clinical
pharmacology studies of drug interactions among HIV, HCV and TB
drugs during drug development.
It will also integrate new research data with an informatics
utility that is based in the CoE’s Translational Pharmacology
Research Core. This utility is used by NIH investigators for
developing new treatment protocols that access the most current
drug interaction data available, thus promoting the safety and
protection of subjects who participate in these clinical
The NIH funding additionally supports a new Mentored Research
award for Qing Ma PhD, a research scientist in the CoE’s
Translational Pharmacology Research Core and an investigator in the
UB PSL. Ma has received a 5-year K08 award titled, “Genetic
Risk of Neurocognitive Disorders in Patients with HIV
The overall objective of Ma’s proposal is to provide
advanced training in antiretroviral pharmacogenomics, related to
pharmacokinetics and disease modeling in patients with
HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders.
The research plan focuses on the development of a model system
to improve risk and intervention assessments by integrating genetic
data, pharmacokinetics and toxicity, to establish an individualized
risk profile of HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders, one of the
prevalent co-morbidities in treated individuals.
Morse says he will serve as the primary mentor for Ma’s
award, along with additional notable mentors Giovanni Schiffitto,
MD, from the University of Rochester, David Haas, MD, from
Vanderbilt and Scott Letendre, MD, from UCSD.