Published May 11, 2020
BUFFALO, N.Y. — Qing Ma, PharmD, PhD, associate professor of pharmacy practice, received a five-year $4 million award from the National Institute on Aging in the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to examine the effects of drug toxicity on cognitive disorders in older adults with HIV.
The award is the largest active R01 – a competitive grant that supports mature health-related research – at the University at Buffalo School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, and the second largest active R01 at the university.
Drug toxicity from overprescription is a growing issue among older adults with HIV, who often must undergo antiretroviral therapy and take medications for other chronic conditions, particularly cognitive and mood disorders such as depression.
Ma, together with Scott Letendre, MD, professor of medicine at the University of California San Diego, will lead an investigation of the underlying mechanisms behind concurrent use of multiple medications on neurotoxicity, cognition and depression.
The study will examine data and specimens from nearly 20,000 comprehensive medical and neurobehavioral assessments collected over more than 20 years from the National NeuroAIDS Tissue Consortium.
“Our research will provide valuable data on how aging interacts with prescribed drugs to increase the risk of neurotoxicity and central nervous system complications,” said Ma.
“The identification of these pharmacological factors would be substantially beneficial to public health,” he adds. “The results may also inform future interventions to prevent and treat cognitive and mood disorders in people with HIV as they age.”
Ma has developed a broad research program that has expanded and evolved into investigating pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of antiretroviral therapy on the central nervous system, pharmacogenomics, drug-drug interactions, and polypharmacy in relation to neurocognitive function in the elderly living with HIV. His research projects involve a multidisciplinary team that encompasses pharmacy, clinical pharmacology, neurology, psychology, substance use disorders and biomarker disciplines.