January 2019: Dedicated Member Profile

Published on 1/1/2019 12:00:00 AM

Balmiki Ray, MD, Pharmacogenomics Scientist, Assurex Health, Mason, OH

During Dr. Ray's clinical pharmacology fellowship training at the Mayo Clinic, his mentor Dr. Richard Weinshilboum, MD, encouraged him to join ASCPT and to attend the Annual Meeting. Going through the timely articles published in CPT enables him to stay updated in the field. The ASCPT Annual Meeting is one of his favorite aspects of being a member of the Society. He has found the sessions both instructive and educational. He specifically finds the poster sessions to be “a great podium for exchange of scientific thoughts.” Recently, he has found that being active in the Networks and Communities has been a great way of networking and promoting awareness and research on various important topics. 

Neuropharmacy was the focus of Dr. Ray's formal postdoctoral training. While he was training, he gradually realized the importance of personalized medicine in neuropsychiatric ailments as a significant number of patients do not respond to available therapies. This happens because of phenotypic heterogeneity (i.e., biologically based variation in pathways of pathologies of these disorders). Dr. Ray is grateful that he had the opportunity to complete an NIH T32 Clinical Pharmacology fellowship under the direction of Dr. Weinshilboum. Dr. Ray became passionate about clinical pharmacology. He hopes to contribute to this area of research. In 2015, Dr. Ray received an ASCPT Presidential Trainee Award that “tremendously encouraged [him] to pursue research in clinical pharmacology.”

Identifying genetic markers associated with therapeutic response in patients experiencing neuropsychiatric disorders forms the basis of Dr. Ray's research. He finds that patients with these disorders are often treated with a “trial‐and‐error” method: “starting with medication(s) and if the patient does not get better changing the medication(s) and so on and so forth.” His work involves identifying markers that could be helpful in predicting therapeutic response and/or adverse effects of the medications available for treatment for these patients.

The field of precision medicine is relatively new, and extensive research is still warranted to enable useful implementation of this approach across different therapeutics specialties. Dr. Ray believes that ASCPT has been helpful in supporting the research by having dedicated issues that focus on precision medicine and pharmacogenomics in CPT. He also feels that inviting speakers at the Annual Meeting who are leaders in the field is evidence of ASCPT's support of precision medicine. He looks forward to seeing more scientific sessions on precision medicine research at the Annual Meeting. He also appreciates the support ASCPT's Network/Community framework has given to various fields. 

Dr. Ray advises the younger generation of researchers to talk to members of ASCPT about the activities of the Society. He encourages them to attend the Annual Meeting and to make a point to attend the poster sessions and the networking sessions.

Dr. Ray joined ASCPT in 2014. He currently serves on the Clinical and Translational Science Editorial Board. He also serves as the Vice Chair of the Mental Health and Addiction Community. 

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