IHG Winter Newsletter 2022
Message from the Interim Director:
I wanted to take the opportunity in this newsletter to update you on several new and exciting efforts for the IHG.

The search for a new IHG director is underway, and we hope to have a permanent director early next year.

The IHG Genotech Symposium was a great success with over 270 attendees, many of which were from industry. We received a lot of positive feedback and plan to make this a yearly event. Thanks to all of you who attended and participated!

In November, we started a monthly Technology Seminar Series along with CoLabs and the Center for Advanced Technology (CAT) with the goal to connect and develop opportunities to hear about the latest industry technologies. The series takes place at both of our main campuses, Parnassus from 10-11 a.m. and Mission Bay from 1-2 p.m., with the companies providing coffee and pastries for the morning session (at Parnassus) and lunch for the afternoon session (at Mission Bay). It will take place every second Tuesday of the month.

Thanks to the efforts of Laurie Weiss, PhD, and Elliott Sherr, MD, PhD, our Human Genetics Seminar series, featuring our own faculty and outside speakers, will be continuing from January 13.

Our IHG Holiday Party will take place on December 2 at 4pm in the Faculty Alumni House at Parnassus. Please see below for more details and we hope to see you there!

I am extremely excited to have Shea Andrews, PhD, and James Pirrucello, MD, two new faculty members, join our IHG community.

Happy Holidays and best wishes for the new year.

Faculty Profile:
Akinyemi Oni-Orisan, PharmD, PhD
With two new awards, Akinyemi Oni-Orisan, PharmD, PhD, is setting out to improve cardiovascular therapies and social equity in medicine.

Oni-Orisan is an assistant professor in the Department of Clinical Pharmacy, with a joint appointment in the UCSF Institute for Human Genetics. He recently won an R56 award from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for investigating statin therapy, which is a cholesterol-lowering agent and one of the most commonly prescribed therapies for heart disease.

“We might not be prescribing it as effectively as we could,” Oni-Orisan said. “Right now, it is essentially a one-size-fits-all approach.” Oni-Orisan will lead a team investigating how polygenic risk scores and real-world evidence could optimize these statin regimens.

Oni-Orisan also received a fundable score for an R01 award from the NIH for examining genetic and social determinants of pharmacological health outcomes in ancestrally diverse populations.

“One of the problems with precision medicine is that the study population participants are almost entirely of predominantly European ancestry,” he said. “That means the guidelines and clinical decisions that are being made based off these studies might not benefit all patients. We hope to identify novel determinants of drug response in diverse populations, so that the results will be applicable to as many individuals as possible.”

Researcher Profile: Hai Nguyen, PhD
Ever since he learned about the prevalence of obesity in the United States, Hai Nguyen, PhD, has been eager to find a way of treating it. Now, Nguyen is uncovering the link between human genetics and obesity. As a postdoctoral fellow in the lab of Professor Nadav Ahituv, PhD, Nguyen is exploring the role of genetics and how it could lead to gene therapies for metabolic diseases including obesity and diabetes.

Nguyen was recently honored by the Charles J. Epstein Trainee Awards for Excellence in Human Genetics Research from the American Society of Human Genetics. Nguyen was selected for his work explaining how genetics are involved in sex-specific fat distribution, promoting fat development differently in males and females.

“The work was very well received, and people were really excited about it,” Nguyen said. He is now in the process of submitting the research paper for publication.

Nguyen hopes to become a principal investigator someday, running a lab that focuses on connecting basic science and research with translational research.

“I hope to run a comprehensive lab with two different arms and connect them together to move science a little bit faster,” he said.

Staff Profile: Yvette Lee Villicaña
Yvette Lee Villicaña felt immediately drawn to research administration when she joined UCSF in 2005. She started as a Faculty Assistant in Radiology and has worked as a Post-award Manager for the past eight years. She is now Associate Director of Finance and Administration supporting the UCSF Institute for Human Genetics along with the Department of Cell & Tissue Biology.

She works with a team of two other post-award financial analysts to support researchers, helping them understand what grant money they have available, ensuring they are in compliance with all rules and regulations for the grant funds, and assisting with their financial reporting. 

“All of these brilliant researchers are passionate about what they do, and it is really inspiring,” Villicaña said. “Our team’s purpose is to help oversee their funding so they can focus on the research and not be burdened with the administrative side of things.” 

She brings a growth mindset to the role, with a focus on establishing best practices for the team. 

“I love having the opportunity to lead this group,” Villicaña said, “because I'm really passionate about helping to establish and nurture a high-performing team.” 

Meet Our New Faculty Members
Assistant Professor, Psychiatry

Dr. Andrews is a genetic epidemiologist looking at the role of genetic and environmental risk factors in Alzheimer's disease. The Andrews Lab focuses on determining the causal pathways that underly the development of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias (ADRD) by applying statistical genetic and genetic epidemiological approaches to large genetic & phenotypic datasets.
Assistant Professor, Medicine

Dr. Pirruccello studies cardiovascular and aortic diseases using machine learning and genetics. He uses machine learning to quantify the heart, and to create new types of measurements that can help us to better understand health and disease. He uses genetics to analyze these measurements to gain insight into mechanisms of disease.
Jason Carmichael, MS, CGC
Genetic Counseling Program's Assistant Director, UCSF Fresno 

Jason is a veteran genetic counselor, mentor, educator, and a longtime resident of the Central Valley. He has been instrumental in bringing genetic counseling educational opportunities to the Central Valley and expanding genetics services for the region's residents. We are excited and honored to have him join the leadership team.
Hai Nguyen, PhD was the proud recipient of the prestigious Charles J. Epstein Trainee Award for Excellence in Human Genetics Research. Congratulations Hai!
Congratulations to Wei Gordon, PhD. Our very own IHG researcher's work in studying the genetic secrets of these sugar-eating animals won first prize in this year’s UCSF Grad Slam. Watch the all presentations below!
In the News
Noteworthy Publications
In Case You Missed It
With a wonderful introduction from Dean Talmadge E. King Jr, MD, an amazing lineup of speakers and over 270 attendees, the first IHG Genotech Symposium was a great success!
Translating the science into practice are UCSF pediatricians Morton Cowan, MD, and Jennifer Puck, MD. They are leading a clinical trial – fast tracked by the FDA – to treat children born with Artemis-SCID with gene therapy.
Four Priorities Unite and Guide the Year Ahead
Open Recruitments
Join us on Social Media!
Contact Us
Do you have something exciting to share? Do you have any suggestions, comments or questions? If so, please contact us at Aubrey.Carstenson@ucsf.edu or Arnetha.Whitmore@ucsf.edu.

We are always looking to celebrate and share the amazing science that happens within the IHG community!