The research focus of the Woodahl laboratory is on precision medicine and pharmacogenomics to identify sources of interindividual variability in disease treatment and prevention (e.g. genes, environment, and lifestyle). We are interested in genetic and environmental factors that alter the pharmacokinetics, or ADME (absorption, distribution, metabolism, and elimination), and pharmacodynamics of many therapeutic compounds. Translation of pharmacogenomics into clinical practice requires genetic research with diverse patient populations to accurately predict drug response and toxicity for all people. Towards this end, we focus on precision medicine and pharmacogenomics with rural and underserved populations.

Research Areas

American Indian and Alaska Native populations in the United States have largely been left out of precision medicine and pharmacogenomics research. Our research is part of the Northwest-Alaska Pharmacogenomics Research Network (NWA-PGRN), whose goals are to engage indigenous populations in precision medicine research (1U01GM092676 and P01GM116691). In Montana, we have established a community-academic partnership with the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes living on the Flathead Reservation. This work includes the characterization of genetic variation and environmental factors that predict drug response and toxicity. Precision medicine research has broad utility across many therapeutic areas, with our primary focus on medications for the treatment of cardiovascular diseases and cancer. 

Our community-academic partnership is grounded in community-based participatory research to aid in the translation of precision medicine research into the clinic. We use community-engaged research to address complex and important challenges to conducting precision medicine research with American Indian and Alaska Native communities (R01HG009500) including alignment of research with tribal health priorities, developing community-responsive approaches to the return of research results to tribal participants and their communities, and addressing issues of data stewardship that support the full participation of tribal communities in research.

The Woodahl laboratory is also focused on understanding the mechanisms by which pharmacogenomics alter the function of drug-metabolizing enzymes (e.g. cytochrome P450 drug-metabolizing enzymes), drug transporters (e.g. ATP-binding cassette transporters), and regulatory proteins (e.g. vitamin D homeostasis) that contribute to drug disposition. We are using a combination of computational, membrane-based, cell-based, and in vivo models to study the functional consequence of genetic variation in drug-metabolizing enzymes and drug transporters.