SDSU students to hear personalized pharmacy talk

Courtesy photo: John Lee

BROOKINGS – As personalized pharmacy becomes reality and less possibility, what role will the pharmacist play?

That’s the question John Lee, chief medical officer of cancer research at the Avera Cancer Institute in Sioux Falls, will attempt to answer when he addresses about 300 South Dakota State University pharmacy students and faculty members at the 30th annual Fall Pharmacy Convocation and Research Presentation Oct. 25.

Lee will speak at 3:30 p.m. in a public presentation at Volstorff Ballroom B in the University Student Union.

“How do the changes in technology affect the field of pharmacy? The fact that I can genome sequence you in two hours rather than 10 days, how does that affect patients? By understanding pharmacogenomics, how an organism affects a drug, we can tell if a drug will be effective and how you will degrade a drug.

“That is coming to fruition now for some drugs, like coumadin, and this field of personalized pharmacy will continue to grow. How will that change the role of the pharmacist and the care given to patients?” Lee asked.  

He has spent much of his career in drug development. In his current position, which he began in 2020, he oversees phase 1-3 clinical trials for oncology drugs.

Prior to that he was chief medical officer at ImmunityBio and senior vice president of clinical development at Nantkwest, both in California. He was responsible for all pre-clinical and clinical development from basic research to FDA application for all investigational products of Nantworks, the parent company of Nantkwest.

From 2008 to 2016, he was a head and neck surgeon at Sanford Cancer Research as well as its medical director. Lee received multiple National Institutes of Health grants on immune impact of chemotherapy and radiation on HPV and head and neck cancers.

From 2002 to 2008, Lee was assistant professor in the ear, nose and throat department at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, where he did his surgical internship and residency.

Overall, his research interests have been focused on how to use the body’s immune system to better cure cancer.

Earlier in the afternoon Oct. 25, a group of graduate and undergraduate pharmacy students will give virtual research poster presentations followed by a roundtable discussion.

For more information on Lee’s talk, contact Om Perumal, associate dean for research in the College of Pharmacy and Allied Health Professions, at [email protected]

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