Todd Skaar

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Genomic Medicine: Translating Genetic Discoveries into Clinical Care

Dr. Todd Skaar is an internationally recognized leader in the field of pharmacogenomics. Dr. Skaar and his research team study ways to improve the success of cancer treatment drug therapies. His work focuses on the impact of genomic variability in how these drugs interact with each other and in the body. Better understanding these drug interactions can improve outcomes and reduce hospitalizations. Dr. Skaar’s competitive translational research was awarded an NIH-funded Maximizing Investigators’ Research Award (MIRA).

Dr. Skaar serves as the leader of the Pharmacogenomics (PGx) Implementation Team working under the larger Precision Health Initiative (PHI) inaugural project awarded in 2016. PGx, which utilizes a patient’s genetics to guide selection and dosing of appropriate medications, has the potential to enhance medication efficacy and minimize toxicity. Dr. Skaar’s team has successfully implemented PGx testing in cardiology, oncology, psychiatry, neurology, and in various transplant disciplines.

Dr. Skaar is passionate about mentoring and encouraging young researchers. Trainees have emerged as leaders in translational medicine, as faculty at academic institutions, as scientists working in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries, and as regulators at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and National Institutes of Health. Dr. Skaar exemplifies a translational scientist through his research, collaborations, mentorship of trainees, and through his positive impact on human health.

Dr. Skaar's translation of research into improved health outcomes for patients taking medications is another excellent example of how IUPUI's faculty members are TRANSLATING their RESEARCH INTO PRACTICE.


Recent Submissions

Now showing 1 - 10 of 130
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    Opportunity for pharmacogenomic testing in patients with cystic fibrosis
    (Wiley, 2022-04) Sakon, Colleen; Alicea, Leah A.; Patacca, Heather; Brown, Cynthia D.; Skaar, Todd C.; Tillman, Emma M.; Medicine, School of Medicine
    Background Patients with cystic fibrosis (CF) are exposed to many drugs in their lifetime and many of these drugs have Clinical Pharmacogenetics Implementation Consortium (CPIC) guidelines that are available to guide dosing. Contemporary CF treatments are targeted to specific mutations in the CF transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) gene, and thus, require patients to have genetic testing before initiation of modulator therapy. However, aside from CFTR genetic testing, pharmacogenomic testing is not standard of care for CF patients. Aim The aim of this study is to determine the number of non-CFTR modulator medications with CPIC guidelines that are prescribed to patients with CF. Materials & Methods We identified all patients with a diagnosis of CF and queried our hospital electronic medical records (EMR) for all orders, including inpatient and prescriptions, for all drugs or drug classes that have CPIC actionable guidelines for drug–gene pairs that can be used to guide therapy. Results We identified 576 patients with a diagnosis of CF that were treated at our institution during this 16-year period between June 2005 and May 2021. Of these patients, 504 patients (87.5%) received at least one drug that could have been dosed according to CPIC guidelines if pharmacogenomic results would have been available. Conclusions Patients with CF have high utilization of drugs with CPIC guidelines, therefore preemptive pharmacogenomic testing should be considered in CF patients at the time of CFTR genetic testing.
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    Clinical Opportunities for Germline Pharmacogenetics and Management of Drug-Drug Interactions in Patients With Advanced Solid Cancers
    (ASCO, 2022) Shugg, Tyler; Ly, Reynold C.; Rowe, Elizabeth J.; Philips, Santosh; Hyder, Mustafa A.; Radovich, Milan; Rosenman, Marc B.; Pratt, Victoria M.; Callaghan, John T.; Desta, Zeruesenay; Schneider, Bryan P.; Skaar, Todd C.; Medicine, School of Medicine
    PURPOSE: Precision medicine approaches, including germline pharmacogenetics (PGx) and management of drug-drug interactions (DDIs), are likely to benefit patients with advanced cancer who are frequently prescribed multiple concomitant medications to treat cancer and associated conditions. Our objective was to assess the potential opportunities for PGx and DDI management within a cohort of adults with advanced cancer. METHODS: Medication data were collected from the electronic health records for 481 subjects since their first cancer diagnosis. All subjects were genotyped for variants with clinically actionable recommendations in Clinical Pharmacogenetics Implementation Consortium guidelines for 13 pharmacogenes. DDIs were defined as concomitant prescription of strong inhibitors or inducers with sensitive substrates of the same drug-metabolizing enzyme and were assessed for six major cytochrome P450 (CYP) enzymes. RESULTS: Approximately 60% of subjects were prescribed at least one medication with Clinical Pharmacogenetics Implementation Consortium recommendations, and approximately 14% of subjects had an instance for actionable PGx, defined as a prescription for a drug in a subject with an actionable genotype. The overall subject-level prevalence of DDIs and serious DDIs were 50.3% and 34.8%, respectively. Serious DDIs were most common for CYP3A, CYP2D6, and CYP2C19, occurring in 24.9%, 16.8%, and 11.7% of subjects, respectively. When assessing PGx and DDIs together, approximately 40% of subjects had at least one opportunity for a precision medicine-based intervention and approximately 98% of subjects had an actionable phenotype for at least one CYP enzyme. CONCLUSION: Our findings demonstrate numerous clinical opportunities for germline PGx and DDI management in adults with advanced cancer.
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    Strategies to Integrate Genomic Medicine into Clinical Care: Evidence from the IGNITE Network
    (MDPI, 2021-07-08) Sperber, Nina R.; Dong, Olivia M.; Roberts, Megan C.; Dexter, Paul; Elsey, Amanda R.; Ginsburg, Geoffrey S.; Horowitz, Carol R.; Johnson, Julie A.; Levy, Kenneth D.; Ong, Henry; Peterson, Josh F.; Pollin, Toni I.; Rakhra-Burris, Tejinder; Ramos, Michelle A.; Skaar, Todd C.; Orlando, Lori A.; Medicine, School of Medicine
    The complexity of genomic medicine can be streamlined by implementing some form of clinical decision support (CDS) to guide clinicians in how to use and interpret personalized data; however, it is not yet clear which strategies are best suited for this purpose. In this study, we used implementation science to identify common strategies for applying provider-based CDS interventions across six genomic medicine clinical research projects funded by an NIH consortium. Each project’s strategies were elicited via a structured survey derived from a typology of implementation strategies, the Expert Recommendations for Implementing Change (ERIC), and follow-up interviews guided by both implementation strategy reporting criteria and a planning framework, RE-AIM, to obtain more detail about implementation strategies and desired outcomes. We found that, on average, the three pharmacogenomics implementation projects used more strategies than the disease-focused projects. Overall, projects had four implementation strategies in common; however, operationalization of each differed in accordance with each study’s implementation outcomes. These four common strategies may be important for precision medicine program implementation, and pharmacogenomics may require more integration into clinical care. Understanding how and why these strategies were successfully employed could be useful for others implementing genomic or precision medicine programs in different contexts.
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    Clinical Pharmacogenetics Implementation Consortium (CPIC) Guidelines for Codeine Therapy in the Context of Cytochrome P450 2D6 (CYP2D6) Genotype
    (Wiley, 2012-02) Crews, K.R.; Gaedigk, A.; Dunnenberger, H.M.; Klein, T.E.; Shen, D.D.; Callaghan, J.T.; Kharasch, E.D.; Skaar, Todd C.
    Codeine is bioactivated to morphine, a strong opioid agonist, by the hepatic cytochrome P450 2D6 (CYP2D6); hence, the efficacy and safety of codeine as an analgesic are governed by CYP2D6 polymorphisms. Codeine has little therapeutic effect in patients who are CYP2D6 poor metabolizers, whereas the risk of morphine toxicity is higher in ultrarapid metabolizers. The purpose of this guideline (periodically updated at is to provide information relating to the interpretation of CYP2D6 genotype test results to guide the dosing of codeine.
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    Medication use in breast cancer survivors compared to midlife women.
    (Springer, 2013-07) Otte, Julie L.; Skaar, Todd C.; Wu, Jingwei; Yu, Menggang; Ryker, Kristin; Burns, Debra S.; Carpenter, Janet S.
    PURPOSE: Many breast cancer survivors (BCS) take multiple medications for health problems associated with the treated cancer and other noncancer comorbidities. However, there is no published, large-scale descriptive evaluation of medication use in BCS compared to midlife women. The purpose of this study was (1) to compare the number and types of prescription medications and over-the-counter medications between BCS and midlife women without cancer and (2) to assess possible drug-drug interactions by evaluating the cytochrome P450 isoform properties of medications (inductors and inhibitors) in both groups. METHODS: A cross-sectional, descriptive, comparative design was used. Baseline data from 98 BCS and 138 midlife women without cancer was analyzed from a behavioral intervention trial for menopausal symptoms. RESULTS: BCS were taking significantly more prescription medications and a larger variety of different types of medication classifications (p < 0.05) after controlling for group differences (race, noncancer comorbid conditions, marital status, income, and smoking) in demographics. Twenty-four women were taking at least one medication considered to be a cytochrome P450 isoforms (CYP) inhibitor or inducer capable of clinical drug-drug interactions with no differences in CYP inhibitors or inducers found between groups. CONCLUSION: BCS are taking a vast array of medications during survivorship. It is unclear if prescription medications are managed by a single healthcare provider or several providers. Clinical implications are to monitor for possible interactions among the various prescription medications, over-the-counter medications, and supplements. Implications for behavioral and biomedical research are that clinical studies need to carefully assess and account for multiple medication uses. RELEVANCE OF THE STUDY: The findings of this study are relevant to research and practice for both oncology and general practitioners. The importance of assessing medication information provides information about symptom management in individuals surviving cancer. In addition, the potential interaction of drugs impacts efficacy of various treatments and impacts compliance by patients.
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    Considerations for the Utility of the CPIC Guideline for CYP2D6 Genotype and Codeine Therapy
    (Oxford University Press, 2015-05) Crews, Kristine R.; Caudle, Kelly E.; Dunnenberger, Henry M.; Sadhasivam, Senthilkumar; Skaar, Todd C.
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    Association of Variants in Candidate Genes with Lipid Profiles in Women with Early Breast Cancer on Adjuvant Aromatase Inhibitor Therapy
    (American Association for Cancer Research, 2016-03-15) Santa-Maria, Cesar A.; Blackford, Amanda; Nguyen, Anne T.; Skaar, Todd C.; Philips, Santosh; Oesterreich, Steffi; Rae, James M.; Desta, Zeruesenay; Robarge, Jason; Henry, Norah Lynn; Storniolo, Anna M.; Hayes, Daniel F.; Blumenthal, Roger S.; Ouyang, Pamela; Post, Wendy S.; Flockhart, David A.; Stearns, Vered; Medicine, School of Medicine
    Purpose: Aromatase inhibitors can exert unfavorable effects on lipid profiles; however, previous studies have reported inconsistent results. We describe the association of single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) in candidate genes with lipid profiles in women treated with adjuvant aromatase inhibitors. Experimental design: We conducted a prospective observational study to test the associations between SNPs in candidate genes in estrogen signaling and aromatase inhibitor metabolism pathways with fasting lipid profiles during the first 3 months of aromatase inhibitor therapy in postmenopausal women with early breast cancer randomized to adjuvant letrozole or exemestane. We performed genetic association analysis and multivariable linear regressions using dominant, recessive, and additive models. Results: A total of 303 women had complete genetic and lipid data and were evaluable for analysis. In letrozole-treated patients, SNPs in CYP19A1, including rs4646, rs10046, rs700518, rs749292, rs2289106, rs3759811, and rs4775936 were significantly associated with decreases in triglycerides by 20.2 mg/dL and 39.3 mg/dL (P < 0.00053), respectively, and with variable changes in high-density lipoprotein (HDL-C) from decreases by 4.2 mg/dL to increases by 9.8 mg/dL (P < 0.00053). Conclusions: Variants in CYP19A1 are associated with decreases in triglycerides and variable changes in HDL-C in postmenopausal women on adjuvant aromatase inhibitors. Future studies are needed to validate these findings, and to identify breast cancer survivors who are at higher risk for cardiovascular disease with aromatase inhibitor therapy.
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    The impact of glucocorticoid polymorphisms on markers of neonatal respiratory disease after antenatal betamethasone administration.
    (Elsevier, 2013-03) Haas, David M.; Dantzer, Jessica; Lehmann, Amalia S.; Philips, Santosh; Skaar, Todd C.; McCormick, Catherine L.; Hebbring, Scott J.; Jung, Jeesun; Li, Lang
    OBJECTIVE: We previously demonstrated that maternal and fetal genotypes are associated independently with neonatal respiratory distress syndrome. The objective of the current study was to determine the impact of maternal and fetal single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in key betamethasone pathways on respiratory outcomes that serve as markers for severity of disease. STUDY DESIGN: DNA was obtained from women who were given betamethasone and from their infants. Samples were genotyped for 73 exploratory drug metabolism and glucocorticoid pathway SNPs. Clinical variables and neonatal outcomes were obtained. Logistic regression analysis that controlled for relevant clinical variables to determine SNP impact on bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD), the need for respiratory support, and surfactant therapy use was performed. RESULTS: Data from 109 women who delivered 117 infants were analyzed: 14.5% of the infants experienced BPD; 70.8% of the infants needed some respiratory support after birth, and 27.5% of the infants needed surfactant therapy. In a multivariable regression analysis, gestational age at delivery was associated with most neonatal respiratory outcomes (P ≤ .01), and chorioamnionitis was associated with BPD (P < .03). The following genotypes were associated with respiratory severity outcomes: BPD-fetal Importin 13 gene (IPO13; rs4448553; odds ratio [OR], 0.01; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.00-0.92); surfactant use-maternal IPO13 (rs2428953 and 2486014; OR, 13.8; 95% CI, 1.80-105.5; and OR, 35.5; 95% CI, 1.71-736.6, respectively). CONCLUSION: Several discrete maternal and fetal SNPs in the IPO13 family may be associated with neonatal respiratory outcomes after maternal antenatal corticosteroid treatment for anticipated preterm birth.
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    Variable Aromatase Inhibitor Plasma Concentrations Do Not Correlate with Circulating Estrogen Concentrations in Post-Menopausal Breast Cancer Patients
    (SpringerLink, 2017-10) Hertz, Daniel L.; Speth, Kelly A.; Kidwell, Kelley M.; Gersch, Christina L.; Desta, Zeruesenay; Storniolo, Anna Maria; Stearns, Vered; Skaar, Todd C.; Hayes, Daniel F.; Henry, N. Lynn; Rae, James M.; Medicine, School of Medicine
    Purpose: The aromatase inhibitors (AI) exemestane (EXE), letrozole (LET), and anastrozole suppress estrogen biosynthesis, and are effective treatments for estrogen receptor (ER)-positive breast cancer. Prior work suggests that anastrozole blood concentrations are associated with the magnitude of estrogen suppression. The objective of this study was to determine whether the magnitude of estrogen suppression, as determined by plasma estradiol (E2) concentrations, in EXE or LET treated patients is associated with plasma AI concentrations. Methods: Five hundred post-menopausal women with ER-positive breast cancer were enrolled in the prospective Exemestane and Letrozole Pharmacogenetic (ELPh) Study conducted by the COnsortium on BReast cancer phArmacogomics (COBRA) and randomly assigned to either drug. Estrogen concentrations were measured at baseline and after 3 months of AI treatment and drug concentrations were measured after 1 or 3 months. EXE or LET concentrations were compared with 3-month E2 concentration or the change from baseline to 3 months using several complementary statistical procedures. Results: Four-hundred patients with on-treatment E2 and AI concentrations were evaluable (EXE n = 200, LET n = 200). Thirty (7.6%) patients (EXE n = 13, LET n = 17) had 3-month E2 concentrations above the lower limit of quantification (LLOQ) (median: 4.75; range: 1.42-63.8 pg/mL). EXE and LET concentrations were not associated with on-treatment E2 concentrations or changes in E2 concentrations from baseline (all p > 0.05). Conclusions: Steady-state plasma AI concentrations do not explain variability in E2 suppression in post-menopausal women receiving EXE or LET therapy, in contrast with prior evidence in anastrozole treated patients.
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    Medication adherence and tolerability of Alzheimer’s disease medications: study protocol for a randomized controlled trial
    (BMC, 2013-05-04) Campbell, Noll L.; Dexter, Paul; Perkins, Anthony J.; Gao, Sujuan; Li, Lang; Skaar, Todd C.; Frame, Amie; Hendrie, Hugh C.; Callahan, Chris M.; Boustani, Malaz A.
    Background: The class of acetylcholinesterase inhibitors (ChEI), including donepezil, rivastigmine, and galantamine, have similar efficacy profiles in patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease (AD). However, few studies have evaluated adherence to these agents. We sought to prospectively capture the rates and reasons for nonadherence to ChEI and determine factors influencing tolerability and adherence. Methods/design: We designed a pragmatic randomized clinical trial to evaluate the adherence to ChEIs among older adults with AD. Participants include AD patients receiving care within memory care practices in the greater Indianapolis area. Participants will be followed at 6-week intervals up to 18 weeks to measure the primary outcome of ChEI discontinuation and adherence rates and secondary outcomes of behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia. The primary outcome will be assessed through two methods, a telephone interview of an informal caregiver and electronic medical record data captured from each healthcare system through a regional health information exchange. The secondary outcome will be measured by the Healthy Aging Brain Care Monitor and the Neuropsychiatric Inventory. In addition, the trial will conduct an exploratory evaluation of the pharmacogenomic signatures for the efficacy and the adverse effect responses to ChEIs. We hypothesized that patient-specific factors, including pharmacogenomics and pharmacokinetic characteristics, may influence the study outcomes. Discussion: This pragmatic trial will engage a diverse population from multiple memory care practices to evaluate the adherence to and tolerability of ChEIs in a real world setting. Engaging participants from multiple healthcare systems connected through a health information exchange will capture valuable clinical and non-clinical influences on the patterns of utilization and tolerability of a class of medications with a high rate of discontinuation.