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Understanding Pharmacogenomics: Your Genes and D.R.E.S.S.
What Exactly is Pharmacogenomics?

While DRESS syndrome is still a fairly idiosyncratic condition, it’s unpredictability is being challenged as we learn more about the association between genetics and drugs. Although genetics is only one of several factors in DRESS, this importance cannot be understated. The more knowledge we have about this relationship the closer we get to preventing severe cutaneous adverse reactions to drugs.


Pharmacogenomics is the study of how we as individuals respond to medications depending on our genetic variations. These variations are what makes us unique. With two copies of over 20,000 genes at play in the human body, there is opportunity for all sorts of changes to our DNA. Sometimes these changes can result in unfavorable conditions like diseases and severe adverse reactions to medication. For a deeper dive into how all of this works, visit PHARMGKB.


The unpredictability of how we may respond to medications can be scary and feel like to a shot in the dark, particularly if you’ve already had a severe drug reaction.  While we have a long way to go before science and research flesh out every offending drug and recognize every genetic predisposition, progress is being made. New drug/gene associations are being identified that will eventually prevent events like DRESS from happening in the first place, and this will reduce suffering and save lives.


The practice of personalized medicine and genetic research like that being done at Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) gives us hope for a future free of worry every time we write script or take a new drug.

A leading institution in the study of personalized medicine and drug hypersensitivity.

The mission of the Pharmacogenomics Research Network (PGRN) is to catalyze and lead research in precision medicine for the discovery and translation of genomic variation influencing therapeutic and adverse drug effects.

The Clinical Pharmacogenetics Implementation Consortium (CPIC®) is an international consortium of individual volunteers and a small dedicated staff who are interested in facilitating use of pharmacogenetic tests for patient care.

The Genomics and Targeted Therapy Group is located within FDA’s Office of Clinical Pharmacology and works to apply pharmacogenomics and other biomarkers in drug development and clinical practice. 

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