November 2018 Student Trainee Profile

Published on 11/1/2018 12:00:00 AM

Kit Wun Kathy Cheung, PharmD, Postdoctoral Fellow, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA

Dr. Cheung was first introduced to the field of clinical pharmacology and translational medicine as an undergraduate student majoring in molecular toxicology at the University of California, Berkley. Her interest in research thrived when she worked on a project to study the interaction between western therapeutics and traditional Chinese medicine using computational tools under the direct supervision of Dale Johnson, PhD, PharmD. At the same time, her personal experience inspired her to be a pharmacist and a medication expert who could ensure that patients receive the most appropriate treatment regimen. Her mentor, Dr. Johnson, who has a background in both pharmacy and biopharmaceutics, supported Dr. Cheung's decision to pursue pharmacy and encouraged her to continue to develop her research interest in clinical pharmacology and translational medicine while she was at pharmacy school. Dr. Cheung further developed her clinical skills as a pharmacy student at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). There she learned more about the field and witnessed how information derived from clinical pharmacology studies is applied to patient care. She enjoyed interacting with patients directly and helping them. Dr. Cheung also has a passion to make a bigger impact and to contribute more to the patient population by getting involved in drug development and research.

During her pharmacy education, Dr. Cheung had the opportunity to participate in a research project in the laboratory of Kathleen Giacomini, PhD. There she met many talented, enthusiastic, and supportive investigators and gained hands‐on experience in translational science. With the guidance of Dr. Giacomini, she decided to pursue a fellowship program after earning her PharmD to further develop her research skills and to broaden her knowledge in the field.

Dr. Cheung counts herself fortunate that she was able to join the UCSF‐Stanford Center of Excellence in Regulatory Science and Innovation (CERSI) as a postdoctoral fellow. In that program, she got to work on a regulatory science project that is a collaborative effort between UCSF and the FDA. In this project, she had dedicated, supportive, and wonderful mentors in Dr. Giacomini, Shiew‐Mei Huang, PhD, and Lei Zhan, PhD. These three women have all affected Dr. Cheung professionally. They have trained her to become a good scientist and clinical pharmacologist by reminding her about the importance of staying patient centric and polishing skills, like critical thinking.

Now, Dr. Cheung's main interests in the field deal in membrane transporter, pharmacogenomics, and specific populations. She is interested in how transporter polymorphism may lead to variation in drug response and how developmental changes in the expressions of these transporters would affect the handling of drugs and endogenous compounds in children as they grow and develop. Leslie Floren, PharmD, and Nancy Sambol, PharmD, at UCSF introduced Dr. Cheung to modeling and simulation, such as pharmacokinetics/pharmacodynamics and PBPKs, in drug development. She came to realize how powerful these tools are in providing and supporting quantitative recommendations for the dosing regimen in clinical trials, especially in vulnerable patient populations, like children. Dr. Cheung is still exploring opportunities and learning what she can do as a career. Her fellowship program allows her to gain a broad spectrum of experience in academia, regulatory agency (FDA), and industry. Her involvement in CERSI and exposure in the FDA have made her realize how research and new advances can drive regulatory decision making in the evaluation of safety and efficacy of new drug products. By the end of her fellowship, Dr. Cheung believes she will have a clearer vision of what her career goals are–for now, she is still exploring and learning!

Mentors and colleagues highly recommended membership in ASCPT to Dr. Cheung. They taught her that ASCPT is highly relevant to what she is professionally interested in and that it is a great opportunity to network with experts in the field. As a trainee, she is learning to take full advantage of her membership in ASCPT. She explains that the webinars have been a good way to learn about different topics in clinical pharmacology and work that other researchers are working on. She also praises the different Communities within ASCPT that have allowed her to explore clinical pharmacology and expand her knowledge in a focused manner. She has recently begun volunteering as a member of the Special Populations Community Steering Committee. She hopes this will be an opportunity to interact and collaborate with clinical pharmacologists who have similar interest in special populations.

As a 2018 Presidential Trainee, Dr. Cheung had the opportunity to attend the Annual Meeting. She describes the meeting as “a special place where [she] got to meet with the best clinical pharmacologists from different parts of the world.” Her mentors had told her that ASCPT is a place where you get to see your colleagues and friends with similar professional interests and grow together professionally. Those expectations were confirmed for Dr. Cheung. She met, connected with, and befriended other young investigators at the Meeting. She has begun to create a support network for herself as she shares her successes and struggles with other trainees. As a Presidential Trainee, she was given the rewarding opportunity to present her work and receive constructive feedback from other members at the Meeting. She was honored to be designated a Presidential Trainee. She feels that “it confirms [her] work and [her] passion in this field. It has encouraged [her] to continue [her] journey as a clinical pharmacologist.”

Dr. Cheung has been a member of ASCPT since 2016. She was recognized as a 2018 Presidential Trainee at the ASCPT 2018 Annual Meeting. She also received the Jason Morrow Trainee Award.

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