Joseph L. Jilek, PhD is the Drug Metabolism and Disposition Highlighted Trainee Author for the December 2020 issue. Dr. Jilek is currently a postdoctoral research associate in Nathan Cherrington’s lab at the University of Arizona College
of Pharmacy. At the time the work was completed, Dr. Jilek was a predoctoral trainee in the Pharmacology & Toxicology Graduate Group at the University of California, Davis where he completed his dissertation work under the mentorship of Dr. Ai-Ming
Yu. The Drug Metabolism and Disposition article that earned his selection as a Highlighted Trainee Author is titled “Pharmacokinetic and Pharmacodynamic Factors Contribute to Synergism Between let-7c-5p and 5-Fluorouracil in Inhibiting
Hepatocellular Carcinoma Cell Viability” and is available at https://doi.org/10.1124/dmd.120.000207.
During graduate school, Dr. Jilek worked on developing and characterizing bioengineered microRNA (miRNA) agents, with a focus on applying these agents to hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) therapy. As an aggressive form of cancer with limited options for
pharmacotherapy, this work identified let-7c as a potent inhibitor of HCC cell viability and significantly reduced tumor burden in vivo. Furthermore, Dr. Jilek’s research demonstrated that let-7c attenuated multidrug resistance-associated protein
5 (MRP5) expression, which exports a variety of molecules, including 5-fluorouracil (5-FU), from cells. The data presented in this manuscript demonstrated that let-7c led to enhanced 5-FU accumulation in HCC cells and elicited a synergistic effect
when both agents were used in combination. The anticipated impact of this work should enhance rational combination therapy for HCC and other cancers, especially as antisense oligonucleotide therapies become more widespread.
Outside of the lab, you can find Joe with his partner at the golf course (at least attempting to golf), trying to tire out his dog (Dexter, a Lab of course), or practicing his DIY foodie/culinary skills. He admits it can be tough to leave his scientist
side at work, but when he brings work home it’s usually in the form of experimenting with home brewing.