"We are uniquely positioned to deliver new therapies that help patients with unmet needs to live normal lives."
After completing a combined MD-PhD degree at Cornell and Rockefeller and postdoctoral studies at Stanford, I joined Genentech in 2006. My laboratory has discovered molecular bases for heterogeneity in asthma and pulmonary fibrosis, enabling the development of biomarkers predictive of clinical benefit for targeted molecular therapies.
In addition to supervising translational research in my laboratory, I am the Director of Immunology Discovery, a department of 10 laboratories responsible for target discovery and preclinical therapeutic development in inflammatory, autoimmune, fibrotic, and ophthalmic diseases.
One privilege of working at Genentech is being a part of a long tradition of top quality basic and translational research. While it is essential to do the rigorous and focused experiments necessary to develop therapeutics, it is just as essential to explore uncharted areas of biology to yield new insights that may pay off further in the future. Our postdoctoral program represents a great opportunity to take a deep dive into fundamental mechanisms of human disease. Postdocs have a lot of latitude to explore new areas and bring to bear the incredible resources and infrastructure available at Genentech. It is the best of both worlds – a postdoc can do great research and gain valuable exposure to the drug development process.
We have shown that subsets of asthma patients exhibit excessive type 2 or type 17 airway inflammation and we developed non-invasive biomarkers of these asthma subtypes. These biomarkers are being tested to see if they can identify which patients may be appropriate candidates for several experimental drugs in clinical studies. We are currently working to identify additional mechanisms of disease, candidate therapeutic targets, and biomarkers in other asthma subtypes.
Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a devastating progressive lung disease with a worse prognosis than most cancers. We have characterized the activity of several therapeutically targetable pathways in lung tissue from IPF patients and discovered blood biomarkers that are being used to identify patients at risk of rapid disease progression, patients most likely to respond to specific therapies, and monitor the biological consequences of therapeutic interventions in clinical studies.
Taking advantage of the samples and phenotypic data available from the well-characterized patients enrolled in our clinical trials, we are performing genetic studies to discover new disease mechanisms and therapeutic targets in respiratory diseases. This represents a great example of the feed-forward virtuous cycle of translational research in drug discovery and drug development as we move back and forth between bench and bedside.