Within the Personalized Medicine Program, Dr. Schwarz has pursued studies evaluating determinants of variation in drug exposure, therapeutic response and toxicity with focus on drug-metabolizing enzymes and drug transporters. Her most significant contributions are, 1) the discovery of a functionally deleterious polymorphism in CYP2C9, a drug-metabolizing enzyme of relevance to many drugs, 2) the demonstration of strong genetic contributions to warfarin effect during treatment initiation, and 3) the determination of underlying mechanisms for drug-drug as well as drug interactions related to grapefruit juice and St. John's wort, a herbal antidepressant.
Dr. Schwarz spearheaded the creation of a large electronic Personalized Medicine research database which comprises patients’ clinical characteristics, medications, and genetic biomarkers linked to a large biobank of DNA, plasma and tissues samples. More than 3000 patients have been consented thus far, facilitating significant translational research involving numerous graduate students, residents and scientific collaborations. She was also involved in the development of pharmacogenetics-guided dosing algorithms for warfarin and statins, and the design of web-based tools to enable the clinical implementation of these algorithms.
Dr. Schwarz is currently leading the development and validation of a next-generation gene sequencing (NGS) strategy targeting exomes of 100 drug metabolizing enzymes, transporters and drug targets to enable the discovery of novel genetic predictors underlying variable therapeutic response or toxicity.
Her most recent research is focused on understanding the role of OATP uptake transporters in insulin secretion and pancreatic islet cell function. Her current Masters student, Michelle Kim, is working on the characterization of transporter expression in the human pancreatic islet as well as their role in statin-induced impairment of beta cell function applying different cell-based and transgenic mouse models utilizing knock out and knock in strategies. Furthermore, Dr. Schwarz studies the role of uptake transporters in the progression and chemosensitivity of pancreatic cancer, and their potential as a diagnostic marker and therapeutic target.
Dr. Schwarz received her medical degree at the Technical University Dresden, Germany in 1995, and subsequently her accreditation in Clinical Pharmacology in 2003. She completed a postdoctoral fellowship in Clinical Pharmacology at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, USA (1999-2000), and joined the Division of Clinical Pharmacology, Department of Medicine, at Vanderbilt University as a Junior Faculty member in 2004. Dr. Schwarz completed her Ph.D. graduate training in Pharmacology & Toxicology at the University of Western Ontario (2007-2012), and was appointed as Assistant Professor in 2013.
drug metabolizing enzymes; drug transporters; pharmacogenetics; drug-drug interactions; pancreatic cancer; islet cell function and diabetes