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Identification of Safety Signals Linked to Entire Drug Classes (Dr. Jordi Mestres)

The Research Programme on Biomedical Informatics (GRIB, UPF-IMIM) is seeking candidates to apply for a PhD studentship from the INPhINIT "La Caixa" Fellowship Programme.

The selected candidate will join the   Systems Pharmacology group of GRIB located at the Barcelona Biomedical Research Park (PRBB).

Project Description

It is now widely accepted that drugs interact with multiple proteins. Some of these proteins are linked to therapeutic effects but many others are often responsible for adverse reactions. In fact, almost one third of drugs going into clinical phases end up failing due to safety reasons. Therefore, knowledge acquisition for the early detection of adverse reactions is of utmost relevance in drug discovery.

Beyond safety concerns for individual drugs, the identification of adverse events that affect an entire drug class is of key interest. For example, statins form a class of lipid-lowering drugs that share a common mechanism of action by acting as HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors. Members of this drug class are all linked to myalgia (muscle pain). Accordingly, the objective of this project will be the identification of safety events linked to drug classes, an aspect that has not been addressed so far in a systematic statistically sound manner.

To undertake the project, we will use the FDA Adverse Event Reporting System (FAERS). FAERS is a public repository of over 11.1 million post-marketing spontaneous reports, covering 4000 drugs and 19000 safety terms. Statistical analyses will be performed to detect safety signals affecting drug classes on entire populations or stratified groups (by age, weight, and gender).

Research Group. 

The project will be performed at the Systems Pharmacology group within the GRIB program of the IMIM Hospital del Mar Medical Research Institute. The group is directed by Dr Jordi Mestres, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry with 25+ years of experience in drug discovery, both in pharma (7 years; Pharmacia&Upjohn and Organon) and academia (IMIM and UPF). All the necessary informatics and software equipment are in place to meet the project requirements. The spin-off of the group, Chemotargets, recently signed a 5-year research collaboration agreement with the FDA.

Position Description

The ideal candidate will have a degree in chemistry, biology, biotechnology, or pharmaceutics with established background on informatics, or a degree in informatics with a motivation to learn about computational toxicology. Some level of knowledge on programming languages (e.g., python, R) is a must. Web design programming skills are a plus. Good level of English is required.


Research Group website:

Barcelona Biomedical Research Park;

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