Clinical Pharmacology

The Division of Clinical Pharmacology & Experimental Therapeutics in the Department of Medicine, located at the San Francisco General Hospital campus, is an interdepartmental unit that engages in numerous research projects relating to smoking and health issues. Under the leadership of Dr. Neal Benowitz MD, an expert on smoking and health, and in particular the human pharmacology of nicotine. The division conducts research projects that focus on the study of human pharmacology of nicotine, with an emphasis on nicotine addiction. Among the issues currently being explored and studied include (1) the role of nicotine in controlling cigarette smoking and the use of other forms of tobacco; (2) the pathways and genetics of nicotine metabolism and pharmacological activity of nicotine breakdown substances; (3) phamacogenetics of nicotine addiction treatment; (4) racial/ethnic differences in nicotine pharmacology and addiction; (5) assessement of exposure to tobacco smoke in smokers and people exposed to secondhand smoke; (6) nicotine based tobacco regulation interventions; and (7) studies of exposure to smoke constituents from Hookah smoking and other novel smoking products; The division also does research on drugs of abuse such as gamma hydroxybutyric acid (GHB) and dextromethorphan.

In addition, the Division of Clinical Pharmacology & Experimental Therapeutics also commits to teaching and patient care. The Clinical Pharmacology Service at SFGH serves both adult and pediatric patients. The major discharge/treatment diagnoses for Clinical Pharmacology services at SFGH include overdose from prescribed medications, herbal treatments, or substances of abuse, accidental poisoning from ingestion of toxic substances, toxic reactions to prescribed medications and poisoning from spider, insect or snake bites. The service also provides consultation on drug interaction and safety and the use and interpretation of levels of drugs in blood to guide optimal medical therapies.

The Division's teaching activities include the Therapeutics Course (Med 140.22), which is open for enrollment to 4th year medical students every October. This is one-month elective course held every year involves participation from approximately 30 faculty members, many from SFGH. Furthermore, the Postdoctoral Training Program, co-sponsored by the Departments of Medicine-SFGH and Biopharmaceutical Sciences, includes training in Clinical Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, Medical Toxicology (ACGME accredited) and combined 3-year fellowship program with Occupational & Environmental Medicine.