Researcher's passion for patient care leads to translational studies (from the bench to the bedside) that will improve the lives of people living with kidney disorders

Tony Kiang finds publishing novel, impactful data and helping research trainees succeed to be rewarding aspects of his work, but wishes there was more time to pursue all his research interests.

15 September 2022

Tony Kiang is an assistant professor (tenure-track) in the Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Alberta. His training in translational research and passion for patient care led him to his current area of research. Tony has a professional pharmacy degree, a clinical pharmacy residency credential, a PhD in pharmacology/toxicology, and a post-doctoral fellowship in clinical pharmacology. He is supported by several extramural grants in both basic and clinical sciences (including a Tri-Council award).

We caught up with Tony to find out more about him and his work.

What is the focus of your research?
I want to understand the mechanisms of drug interactions mediated by intrinsic (e.g., genetic polymorphisms, disease conditions) and extrinsic factors (e.g., co-administered drugs) causing pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic changes in a variety of drug classes. I have specific interests in anti-rejection agents, anti-infectives, and anticonvulsants.

I’m also working to characterize the mechanistic pharmacokinetic models and the suitability of minimally invasive paradigms (e.g., interstitial fluid, dried blood spotting) for optimizing the therapeutic drug monitoring of medications.

A focus area of my research is in determining the metabolism pathways, drug-interaction potentials, mechanisms of toxicities, and detoxification approaches of endogenous uremic toxins that accumulate in patients with kidney disease.

What sort of impact do you hope your research will make?
My studies will improve the precision dosing of drugs by minimizing the adverse effects and health-system costs associated with the conventional drug concentration monitoring process. By understanding and controlling the causes of drug variability, our novel paradigms have the potential to improve the quality of care in a variety of therapeutic classes.

These investigations will also increase our understandings of i) the roles of specific metabolism enzymes in the bioactivation, deactivation, and excretion of uremic compounds; ii) the potency and nature of pharmacokinetic-dynamic interactions mediated by these toxins; and iii) the molecular mechanisms by which each toxin exerts organ pathologies.

The mechanistic insights will also help us design novel paradigms to detoxify individual toxins, using highly specific and potent sulfonation inhibitors to attenuate the production of p-cresol sulfate or indoxyl sulfate. Ultimately, we aim to reduce the significant disease burden of uremia and improve the quality of life of patients suffering from kidney disorders.

What’s the most rewarding aspect of your work?
Publishing novel, impactful data and facilitating the success of my research trainees.

What’s the most challenging part of your research?
Finding enough time to engage in all areas of research that I am interested in.

What is something your colleagues would be surprised to learn about you?
I enjoy photography.

What's the No. 1 piece of advice you give your grad students?
Have an open mind and think about alternative ways to explain the data.

If you hadn't become a researcher, what do you think you'd be doing instead?
I would probably be a full- time clinician caring for patients.