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Klarissa Jackson Lab

The Jackson laboratory utilizes human-relevant in vitro systems (hepatic cell cultures, tissue fractions, and recombinant enzymes) and liquid chromatography – mass spectrometry to study drug metabolism and disposition and address fundamental questions regarding the molecular mechanisms of drug toxicity and interindividual variability in drug disposition. We also collaborate with basic scientists and clinical investigators to develop innovative solutions that will have a broader impact on improving drug safety and precision dosing in various therapeutic areas.

The Jackson laboratory focuses on translational research in drug metabolism and toxicology to elucidate the mechanisms of and risk factors for adverse drug reactions. An important goal of the laboratory is to identify the genetic and environmental factors that contribute to interindividual variability in drug disposition, drug response, and drug toxicity. Our laboratory is currently investigating the influence of individual variations in cytochrome P450 and UDP-glucuronosyltransferase enzymes on the metabolism and hepatotoxicity of tyrosine kinase inhibitors used in cancer therapy as well as the natural product cannabidiol used in epilepsy treatment. We are also evaluating phenotypic biomarkers of cytochrome P450-mediated drug metabolism for use in clinical and translational studies. The long-term goals of this research are to improve the prediction of serious adverse reactions, mitigate drug toxicity, and accurately tailor drug therapy in diverse patient populations.

Current research projects in the Jackson laboratory include the following:

  • Interindividual variability in drug metabolism in ethnically diverse patient populations (NIH/NIGMS R35 GM143044)
  • Phenotypic biomarkers of cytochrome P450 3A for precision dosing in chronic lymphocytic leukemia (NC TraCS Pilot Grant 550KR231911)
  • Metabolism and hepatotoxicity of cannabidiol

group photo Jackson Lab


Klarissa Dawniette Jackson

(919) 962-5551

Klarissa Jackson joined the faculty at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy as an assistant professor in the Division of Pharmacotherapy and Experimental Therapeutics. Jackson obtained her B.S. in chemistry from Jackson State University and her Ph.D. in pharmacology from Vanderbilt University. She completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Washington School of Pharmacy in the Department of Medicinal Chemistry under the mentorship of Drs. Allan Rettie and Sidney Nelson. Prior to joining the faculty at UNC, Jackson was as an assistant professor at Lipscomb University College of Pharmacy in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences and an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Pharmacology at Vanderbilt University.

Bethany Latham

Bethany obtained her bachelor’s degree in Genetics from North Carolina State University. She is pursuing a PhD in the Division of Pharmacotherapy and Experimental Therapeutics in the lab of Dr. Klarissa Jackson at UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy. Bethany is studying genetic and phenotypic factors that influence interindividual variability in drug response. Currently, she is characterizing the metabolism of a HER-2 positive targeted breast cancer therapy, tucatinib, through in vitro phenotyping assays using human liver fractions. She is also interested in characterizing interindividual variability in response to antidepressant agents including psychedelic medicines.

Jonghwa Lee, Ph.D., MSc.

Jonghwa (Kyle) is a postdoctoral research associate in the Division of Pharmacotherapy and Experimental Therapeutics in the laboratory of Dr. Klarissa Jackson at UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy. Kyle obtained his bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the University of Western Ontario, Canada. He then obtained his MSc in pharmacology and PhD in biochemistry/molecular biology from Dalhousie University, Canada. His current research focuses on characterizing the metabolism of venetoclax, a selective BCL-2 inhibitor used to treat chronic lymphocytic leukemia. He is also interested in identifying endogenous biomarkers that can be used to quantify CYP3A activity and predict individual venetoclax metabolism/toxicity.