New Precision Medicine Lecture Series Wraps Up

Thursday, December 12, 2013

A group of pharmacy school students organized a lecture series this fall to educate the UCSF community about precision medicine, an emerging field that utilizes the latest in medical technology and genome sequencing to analyze risk factors and prevent disease.

Lecturers included scientists and clinicians from Genentech and 23andMe, who spoke about their work and how their companies are making an impact on health care.

Most recently, Dr. Bruce Conklin, of the Gladstone Institutes, gave a presentation on pluripotent stem cells and their therapeutic applications. By analyzing G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) mechanisms that influence pluripotency, Dr. Conklin hopes to identify new avenues to treat cardiovascular disease, by altering disease-state phenotypes to resemble those of healthy controls.

 “I liked how Dr. Conklin explained how his research can enrich patients’ lives,” said first-year pharmacy student Jason Kirkwood. “As a student, I think it’s important to see real-world applications of the things we learn in the classroom.”

Dalga Surofchy, also a first-year pharmacy student, added, “I found the series to be a powerful introduction to the variety of efforts occurring in the field of pharmacogenetics. I am very excited to be a student at an institution that plays a pivotal role in personalized medicine.”

Second-year pharmacy student Dor Keyvani, who was one of the organizers of the lecture series, said the presenters enjoyed interacting with the students.

“They all come from industry, so they don’t get a chance to talk about the work they do,” he said. “This lecture series was a great chance to tell people about their work and be proud of it.”

Dr. Esteban Burchard, the faculty member leading the lecture series initiative, was pleased with the outcome. “This is our first, and we will get out some of the kinks on the next round,” he said. “The turnout has been great and diverse, with people from all schools.”

Keyvani and Dr. Burchard hope to expand their efforts on campus next year. This may include establishing an official registered campus organization (RCO) to promote precision medicine beyond the School of Pharmacy.

With the RCO, the organizers hope to create a space on campus for people to express their ideas and thoughts related to precision medicine. Furthermore, they hope it will spark an interest in students to conduct their own work in the field of precision medicine, whether scientific research or organizational outreach. If you are interested, contact