Interview with Kamisha Johnson-Davis

This month we hear from Kamisha Johnson-Davis, whom we welcome as the new chair of the Communications Committee. Kamisha is joined by Ofelia Noceti as vice-chair.

Best wishes to the committee who continue the wonderful work of Denise McKeown and Maria Shipkova.


Kamisha Johnson-Davis
Associate Professor (Clinical), Department of Pathology, University of Utah

Medical Director, Clinical Toxicology, ARUP Laboratories

Salt Lake City, Utah, USA


Can you tell us a little bit about your respective roles? What is a typical day like for you?

I am an Associate Professor in the Department of Pathology at the University of Utah.  My clinical role incorporates service as medical director for Clinical Toxicology at ARUP Laboratories. My day-to-day responsibilities include, consulting with clinicians/clients to discuss patient results and assist them with appropriate test ordering.  I teach and help provide education support to residents and clinical chemistry fellows.  I oversee the toxicology laboratory sections to ensure that labs are operating according to regulatory guidelines for clinical testing. I review and monitor quality control to certify that analytical performance is maintained and acceptable to report patient results.  I review proficiency testing results and approve corrective action when a proficiency testing result is found to be unsatisfactory. As medical director, my clinical responsibilities also include, making recommendations for new tests to develop and to oversee assay development and validation for drug tests by mass spectrometry and immunoassay instrumentation.  I also interact with internal (Client Services, Support Services, lab staff, Sales and Marketing) and external customers of the organization to facilitate and foster the transfer of clinical information to help support patient care.

Is there anything that your laboratory does, or that is done at your hospital, that you would consider innovative?

ARUP Laboratories is a National Reference Laboratory, in Salt Lake City, Utah, with an extensive test menu for anatomic pathology, genetics, hemostasis, immunology, infectious disease, oncology, drug testing and pediatric testing.  ARUP Laboratories’ is also involved in clinical trials and has a PharmaDx program to provide customized test development and validation services, as well as clinical research and commercial testing for the pharmaceutical industry.  The company provides genetic counseling support and assists clients with test utilization management.

How did you become interested in your area of expertise?

During my undergraduate education (BS Biochemistry), I began to explore the field of pharmacology to understand the mechanism of action of drugs and it stimulated my desire to obtain a doctoral degree in pharmacology. I enrolled in the Pharmacology PhD program at the University of Utah in 1999 and later graduated in 2004.  A postdoctoral fellowship in clinical chemistry at the University of Utah, enabled me to work in laboratory medicine in the area of Therapeutic Drug Monitoring and clinical toxicology.

Is there anything that you’ve seen or heard about recently and thought “I’d like to incorporate that idea at my center”?

I would like to incorporate oral fluid drug testing at ARUP Laboratories.

What do you consider is the future for TDM and CT? What are you excited about? What are the challenges we face?

Targeted gene therapies to treat disease and non-addictive medications to treat pain, is the future for personalized medicine, TDM and CT. I am excited about new technology that will expand the field of TDM and CT for drug and trace element testing and pharmacogenetics. However, the cost of new technology can be a limiting factor for implementation into laboratories across the globe.


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Kamisha Johnson-Davis