The Perera laboratory focuses on pharmacogenomics (using a patient's genome to predict drug response) in minority populations. Our goal is to make precision medicine available to all.
Dr. Perera is an Associate Professor within the Department of Pharmacology and Center for Pharmacogenomics at the Feinberg School of Medicine with expertise in pharmacokinetics, clinical pharmacology and human genetics.
Why we do what we do!
Currently there is a lack of diversity in genomic studies in general (check out this Cell paper to see some great graphics) and pharmacogenomic studies in particular. This means that as we begin to use genomic data to guide therapy in the US, we may be unable to accurately predict drug response in under-served populations. We (and our amazing collaborators) hope to fast-track the discovery and translation of genetic variants that affect response to medication for African Americans. For me this research focus started as an interesting area that few others were working in...but now it is a calling to do something that can make medical care better for those that have gone unrecognized (or un-ACCOuNTed).
What We Do
African American Genomic Medicine
Prescribing the right drug at the right dose for the right patient
Anticoagulants remain some of the most dangerous drugs taken in the US. We investigate if a patient's genome can predict the therapeutic dose, or adverse effects (e.g. bleeding) associated with these drugs. This information could be used to help doctors select the safest and most effective medication for each patient.
Genomics of Drug Metabolism
Genetic biomarkers that regulate drug metabolism
The liver metabolizes over 70% of drugs currently prescribed in the US. However, we still do not understand the genes and genetic mutations that regulate these important hepatic enzymes. We are investigating the role of genetic variation and DNA methylation in the regulation of gene expression of drug metabolizing enzymes (DMEs) and other gene within the liver in African Americans (funded NIMDH). Click here for details on this project.
Pharmacogenomics of Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Genetic biomarkers to predict primary non-response.
Biologic therapies have been a revolution in the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease. However there remains a subset of patients that do not respond to these drugs and hence receive no clinical benefit. Moreover, this subset will be exposed to potential side-effects from biologic therapy. Genetic biomarkers that can predict if a patient will respond to biologic therapy would enable physicians to make better decision for patients and limit unwanted drug exposure to those with little chance of benefit.
African American Cardiovascular Pharmacogenomics Consortium
ACCOuNT is a NIMHD funded Collaborative Consortium aimed at accerateing the pace of pharmacogenomic discovery and translation in African Americans. We have brought together investigators at 2 major US cities (Chicago and DC), as well as clinical, pharmacogenomic and informatics experts to build a sustainable research consortium. Click here for more details. We have also been featured in PGRN HUB.
Follow the consortium on Twitter @ACCOuNT_NU.
Using the electronic health record to personalize healthcare.
The Electronic Medical Records and Genomics (eMERGE) Network is a National Institutes of Health (NIH)-organized and funded consortium of U.S. medical research institutions. The Network brings together researchers with a wide range of expertise in genomics, statistics, ethics, informatics, and clinical medicine from leading medical research institutions across the country to conduct research in genomics, including discovery, clinical implementation and public resources. we are involved in the analysis on the newest eMERGE sequencing data. We hope to identify novel variants in genes important to drug response.
Northwestern's Breakthrough Podcast on our newest paper!
The Perera Lab
Meet the Lab
Senior Research Associate
Dr. Friedman has worked extensively in cancer genomics and pharmacogenomics prior to joining the lab. She is currently managing the projects associated with ACCOuNT.
American Heart Assocication Postdoctoral Fellow
Dr. De is a Postdoctoral fellow working on genetic regulation of hepatic drug metabolism and bleeding risk biomarker identification. She recently became a AHA fellow, researching response to clopedigrel (anti-platelet agent) in African Americans
Layan Nahlawi PhD
With the creation of multi-comic data in African American hepatocytes, we will next use machine learning to better understand the complex interactions of these different data types. Layan is an expert in machine learning and transfer learning techniques and will bring that expertise to our data. Her first project is to look at how to model the African American liver using our unique data as well as public data.
Honghong Zhang PhD
With each discovery, biological and functional follow-up is essential to understand the role of genetic variation in diseases. Honghong will use her bioinformatic and functional biology skills to unravel the mysteries behind some of our most intriguing findings. She is currently working on the role of folate homeostasis in coagulation and the heritability of drug phenotypes between populations.
Juan came from the world of finance to pursue research and medicine. His goal is to to conduct scientific research that will improve minority health and help eliminate health disparities. He assists with all things lab related, from running sequencing, to cell culture, to processing patient samples. He is a jack of all "lab trades". Outside of the lab he is also working towards reducing educational disparities in STEM by mentoring first generation college students through the America Needs You program.
Past Lab members
Off to bigger and better things!
Wenndy Hernandez PhD - Instructor in the Department of Medicine, Section of Cardiology, University of Chicago
Keston Aquino-Michaels - Data Scientist at SparkBeyond.
Erin Smithberger - Graduate student at University of North Carolina
Odera Ikwuezunma - Undergraduate at University of Texas
Cristian Martinez-Ramos - Undergraduate at University of Puerto Rico
Daniel Morales - Undergraduate at Boston University
Ijezie Ikwuezunma- Medical Student at University of Chicago, Former Fulbright Research Fellow (University of Liverpool).
Minnie Horvath - High School Biology Teacher - UChicago Woodlawn
Stephanie Poindexter - Postdoctoral Associate, Sensory Morphology and Genetic Anthropology at Boston University.
Lucia Cortejoso - PharmD in Hospital General Univeritario, Spain
Mary Young - Medical Resident
High School students
Maggie Colten - Currently an undergraduate at the University of Chicago.
Johanna Kahn -
Zhong Y, Gamazon EG, Perera MA. On Using Local Ancestry to Characterize Genetic Control of Omic Phenotypes in Multiethnic or Admixed Populations. AJHG Jun 6;104(6):1097-1115. 2019
Park CS, De T, Xu Y, Zhong Y, Smithberger E, Alarcon C, Gamazon ER, Perera MA. Hepatocyte gene express and DNA methylation as ancestry-dependent mechanisms in African Americans. npj Genomics Medicine. 4(29), 2019
Friedman PN, Shaazuddin M, Grossman RL, Harrelson AF, Klien TE, Miller DC, Nutescu EA, O’Brien TJ, O’Donnell PH, Tuck, M. Meltzer, DO, Perera MA.The ACCOuNT Consortium: a model for discovery, translation and implementation of precision medicine in African Americans. Clin Transl Sci. May;12(3):209-217. 2019
De T, Hernandez W, Nwanze N, Smithberger E, O’Brien TJ, Tuck M, Duarte J, Bourgeois S, Perera MA. Association of Genetic Variants with Warfarin-associated Bleeding. JAMA, Oct 23;320(16):1670-1677, 2018.
Clinical pharmacogenetics implementation consortium (cpic) guideline for pharmacogenetics-guided warfarin dosing: 2017 update. Johnson JA, Caudle KE, Gong L, Whirl-Carrillo M, Stein CM, Scott SA, Lee MT, Gage BF, Kimmel SE, Perera MA, Anderson JL, Pirmohamed M, Klein TE, Limdi NA, Cavallari LH, Wadelius M. Clin Pharmacol Ther. 2017 Sep; 102(3):397 – 404, 2017.
Integrated analysis of genetic variation and gene expression reveals novel variant for increased warfarin dose requirement in African Americans. Hernandez W, Gamazon ER, Aquino-Michaels K, Smithberger E, Patel S, O’Brien TJ, Harralson AF, Kittles RA, Barbour A, Tuck M, McIntosh SD, Douglas JN, Konkashbaev A, Cavallari LH, Perera MA. J Thromb. Haemost. Apr; 15(4):735 – 743, 2017
We could all use a little help from our friends.
University of Illinois, Chicago
Director, Pharmacogenomics Laboratory, Pharmacy Practice
Pharmacogenomics Research Network
The PGRN catalyzed pharmacogenomics discoveries both nationally and internationally through the conduct of collaborative research focused on the discovery and translation of the genetic determinants of drug response, in order to enable safer and more effective drug therapies.
A collaboration to further Precision medicine
Leaders at the National Institutes of Health(NIH) Pharmagenomics Research Network (PGRN) and the RIKEN Center for Genomic Medicine(CGM) in Japan have signed a letter of intent creating a Global Alliance for Pharmacogenomics. Using genomewide approaches, identify genetic variants that contribute to individual responses to medicines, including rare and serious side effects.
Official Lab Photo
Lab Photo Winter 2019
missing in acton: Paula Friedman
You'll Be Back: The Academic Version