Alex J. Rai, PhD
Multiplexed Gene Expression and Pharmacogenetics Analysis: Laboratory Testing in an Era of Personalized Medicine
We are quickly moving towards the era of patient-tailored therapies and predictive medicine. Clinical treatments in this age will require a fundamental understanding of the molecular heterogeneity of tumors, including the delineation of individualized genetic profiles of cancer cells. Progress towards predictive medicine will entail understanding genetic variation between individual patients, particularly with regard to genes encoding drug metabolizing enzymes involved in activation or inactivation of chemotherapeutic agents. These are the main goals of our research- to characterize tumors by their molecular genetic profiles and identify biomarker signatures that characterize distinct subsets of the (apparently) same disease. Our work aims to identify new biomarkers and to then develop laboratory assays that can be used in the clinical management of cancer patients. In addition, we seek to develop assays for genotyping individuals to determine their ability (or inability) to effectively metabolize cancer drugs. Design and application of both biomarker-based and genotyping-based assays will serve to maximize therapeutic efficacy and reduce adverse reactions to chemotherapeutic agents.