The field of pharmacogenomics is focused on the characterization of genetic factors contributing to the response of patients to pharmacological interventions. Drug response and toxicity are complex traits; therefore the effects are likely influenced by multiple genes. The investigation of the genetic basis of drug response has evolved from a focus on single genes to relevant pathways to the entire genome. Preclinical (cell-based models) and clinical genome-wide association studies (GWAS) in oncology provide an unprecedented opportunity for a comprehensive and unbiased assessment of the heritable factors associated with drug response. The primary challenge with attempting to identify pharmacogenomic markers from clinical studies is that they require a homogeneous population of patients treated with the same dosage regimen and minimal confounding variables. Therefore, the development of cell-based models for pharmacogenomic marker identification has utility for the field since performing these types of studies in humans is difficult and costly. This review intends to provide a current report on the status of genomic studies in oncology, the methods for discovery, and implications for patient care. We present a perspective and summary of the challenges and opportunities in translating heritable genomic discoveries to patients.
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