Christian Fernandez, PhD

Christian Fernandez, PhD*

307 Salk Pavilion
335 Sutherland Drive
Pittsburgh, PA 15261

Liver-Related Work

The research in my laboratory focuses on the pharmacogenomics of adverse drug reactions, where adverse drug reactions to protein-based biologics is a major problem that can lead to life-threatening complications and reduce or eliminate the therapeutic effects of these medications. The objectives of my research are to elucidate the mechanism of adverse drug reaction by identifying polymorphisms in genes that can explain why certain patients are predisposed to developing these reactions, to identify therapeutic strategies that can block and maintain therapeutic drug concentrations, and to develop clinical laboratory tests that can monitor drug bioavailability and predict the risk of developing toxicities.
Our liver-related interests include the hepatotoxicity observed to the chemotherapeutic agent asparaginase, which is a biologic and an essential component of multi-agent chemotherapy for childhood leukemias. However, adult leukemia regimens avoid asparaginase due the high risk of hepatotoxicity. Our research related to this topic has identified an association between the PNPLA3 I148M risk variant, which has been linked to the development of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), and elevated alanine aminotransferase (ALT) levels in patients after their initial exposure to asparaginase. Our work aims to demonstrate a novel mechanism of drug-induced toxicity involving crosstalk between multiple organs leading to the drug-induced fatty liver and toxicity.


Assistant Professor
Pharmaceutical Sciences
Center for Pharmacogenetics