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Program Coordinator

College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences

Dr. Shannon Kinney Dr. Shannon Kinney, Ph.D

What is your related educational background and current research focus?

I earned a Doctor of Philosophy degree from Roswell Park Cancer Institute in association with the State University of New York at Buffalo. My thesis research focused on epigenetic changes in prostate cancer. I also completed a postdoctoral fellowship at New England Biolabs, where I continued to study epigenetic gene regulation. I now run a research lab where I study the roles of DNA modifications in gene expression in normal and cancer models. I also complete educational research on best practices for teaching pharmacogenomics.

What piqued your interest in pharmacogenomics?

When I was a first year graduate student, my father was diagnosed with leukemia. He was treated with chemotherapy and had very severe toxicities that resulted in him being admitted to the ICU. He eventually did recover, but dealt with long-term effects of the treatment. Although I am grateful for the years that I still had with him, as I learned more about the links between genetics and response to medication, I began to wonder if use of pharmacogenomic testing could have limited the toxicities that he experienced. Now, when I teach others about pharmacogenomics, I try to emphasize that genetics may only be one point to consider while treating a patient, but for some patients it could be the difference between life or death.

What is the best aspect of the WNE Masters of Pharmacogenomics program?

I learn from doing, so for me, the best part of this program is how hands on it is. Many courses are designed to be interactive and problem based. In addition, students get into the laboratory for a pharmaceutical techniques course during the spring semester and then spend the whole summer semester either in the lab or working with clinicians at their sites. Students apply what they’ve learned in the classroom to real life situations, and learn the skills they need to work in whatever area of pharmacogenomics best suits them.