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VCR's Distinguished Lecture Series

The VCR's Distinguished Lecture Series was created in an effort to educate and help the research community stay abreast on the world’s most pressing research topics.

During each of their visits, invited lecturers will meet with UTHSC administration, faculty and staff to share ideas and foster collaborative efforts centered on education, research and entrepreneurial ventures. They will also deliver a scientific lecture to the UTHSC community.

"Genetics of smoking: Impact on smoking behaviours, health consequences and cessation"

Presented by Rachel Tyndale, PhD, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Departments of Pharmacology & Toxicology, and Psychiatry at the University of Toronto on November 14, 2019 at 12:00pm in the Freeman Auditorium (930 Madison Ave., 3rd Floor)
Drug dependency studies have shown how genetic variation can affect addiction factors ranging from risk degree, drug use amount, and treatment response. Dr. Tyndale’s research builds upon this general finding, using both genetics and a genetic variation biomarker to illustrate the different aspects of inherited risk in nicotine use, smoking and smoking cessation.
Genetic defects in the liver enzyme system involved in the inactivation of nicotine (cytochromes P450) can alter drug metabolism and create interindividual differences in drug efficacy, toxicity and drug dependence. Dr. Tyndale’s investigations use the phenotypic marker CYP2A6 – a genetically variable liver enzyme that metabolically inactivates the majority of nicotine.  She has shown that slow nicotine inactivators are less likely to be dependent smokers, smoke fewer cigarettes per day, and inhale less deeply.  She has also shown an association between enzyme function and the ability to quit smoking in both behaviorally-assisted or pharmacotherapy-assisted subjects. Brain imaging studies illustrate potential central mechanisms behind differing cessation rates among slow and normal metabolizers.

About Dr. Tyndale

Rachel Tyndale PhD is head of Pharmacogenetics at the Campbell Family Mental Health Research Institute, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, the Canada Research Chair in Pharmacogenomics, and a Professor in the Departments of Pharmacology & Toxicology, and Psychiatry at the University of Toronto. Dr. Tyndale focuses on sources of variation between individuals in drug response in the clinical area of addictions and mental health. Dr. Tyndale seeks to identify and understand risk factors, and underlying mechanisms, in substance dependence and to implement approaches to personalize treatment. Her laboratory program also has a major interest in understanding how interindividual variation in drug metabolizing enzymes within the brain alter drug and toxin effects.
Dr. Tyndale sits on numerous scientific advisory boards, editorial boards, was chair for NIH’s PharmacoGenomics Research Network (, and is a lead writer for the 2019 Surgeon General’s Report on Tobacco Cessation. Dr. Tyndale has supervised over 100 scientists, post-doctoral fellows and graduate students, published over 400 papers and book chapters, given over 250 invited presentations and received over 50 awards in clinical and basic pharmacology, neuroscience and genetics.

To see an archive of past presentations, please see the Recorded Lectures webpage.

Last Published: Oct 25, 2019