Create drugs that are a perfect fit for their users' genetic makeup.

What does a Pharmacogeneticist do?

A Pharmacogeneticist is a Scientist — part Pharmacologist, part Geneticist — who believes in “personalized medicine.” Because people react differently to medications based on their individual genetic makeup, the Pharmacogeneticist is dedicated to the study and development of customized drug therapies that maximize the health benefits of pharmaceuticals by tailoring them to patients’ individual biology.

If you’ve ever tried to wear a one-size-fits-all T-shirt, you know there’s no such thing: No one piece of clothing fits every body size, shape, and type. What’s too big on one person is too small on another, and just right on someone else. So, if there’s no such thing as one-size-fits-all clothing, how come there’s one-size-fits-all medicine? According to a Pharmacogeneticist, there shouldn’t be.

As a Pharmacogeneticist, you’re different from a Pharmacogenomics Scientist, who studies the way genetics in general impacts medicine. That’s because you’re intimately focused on the way specific genes influence specific drug behaviors.

For instance, a person’s genes dictate how, exactly, they absorb, distribute, metabolize, and excrete substances. While one person might absorb too much of a drug too quickly — resulting in adverse side effects — another person might absorb too little too slowly, preventing the drug from reaching its therapeutic potential. It’s your job as a Pharmacogeneticist to design and execute clinical research that helps Doctors predict which patients will have which reaction so that you can optimize treatment for everyone.

Think of it this way: A Pharmacogenomics Scientist is a Landscaper interested in the entire yard (that is, the complete set of genes in the human species). You, on the other hand, are a Gardener interested in the planting of a single flower (that is, the unique genes in an individual human being). Both of you, however, want to see the “garden” grow!