Courtney Andersen studies the role of estrogen receptor-alpha in ovarian cancer.
Chris Barnes investigates the structural details by which transcription factor activity regulates RNA Polymerase II during the universal process of eukaryotic gene expression.
Soma Jobaggy studies nitrated fatty acid pharmacology and the antioxidant response in hypertensive end-organ damage.
Allison Nagle studies growth factor receptor signaling in breast cancer.
Drug Discovery
Drug Discovery is an emerging pharmacological science that seeks to identify novel small molecule probes and to understand at a molecular level how compounds affect macromolecular process. Cell-based, in vitro mix-and-read, and whole organism assays suitable for rapid or high throughput analysis are being designed and implemented by members of the Molecular Pharmacology Program. Current molecular targets include Gprotein coupled receptors, vanilloid receptors, cathepsins, apoptosis-inducing proteins, ion channels, steroid receptors, orphan nuclear receptors, kinases, phosphatases, DNA repair enzymes, and DNA polymerases. Chemical libraries and automated screening instrumentation are emphasized, which permit rapid interrogation of optimized assays. Computational approaches and high content cell screening methodologies are employed to facilitate the identification of new chemical probes.

Graduate faculty who study Drug Discovery (Click to see their detailed research profile)

Hülya Bayir - Dr. Hülya Bayir’s research focuses on the primary themes of mitochondrial injury and oxidative signaling. She has organized a multidisciplinary team of investigators to study novel approaches to the treatment of mitochondrial dysfunction by targeting lipid oxidation. Her laboratory integrates the work of clinical and basic science researchers.
Lori Birder - Study a number of ion channel/receptor targets within the bladder epithelium and the possible role of the urothelium in urinary bladder function.
Stephen Chan - We are a basic science and translational research group studying the molecular mechanisms of pulmonary vascular disease and pulmonary hypertension (PH) – an example of an enigmatic disease where reductionistic studies have primarily focused on end-stage molecular effectors. To capitalize on the emerging discipline of “network medicine,” our research utilizes a combination of network-based bioinformatics with unique experimental reagents derived from genetically altered rodent and human subjects to accelerate systems-wide discovery in PH. Our published findings were among the first to identify the systems-level functions of microRNAs (miRNAs), which are small, non-coding RNAs that negatively regulate gene expression, as a root cause of PH. Our lab developed novel in silico approaches to analyze gene network architecture coupled with in vivo experimentation. The results now offer methods to identify persons at-risk for PH and develop therapeutic RNA targets. This work is the cornerstone of our evolving applications of network theory to the discovery of RNA-based origins of human diseases, in general.
Yuanyuan Chen
Dennis Curran - Natural products total synthesis, new synthetic methods, stereochemistry, radical chemistry, and fluorous chemistry.
Bruce Freeman - Cell Signaling; Redox Reactions
Yu Jiang - Signaling mechanisms for cell growth control; Regulation of protein kinases and phosphatases
Patrick Pagano - Development of peptic, viral and small molecular inhibitors of NADPH oxidases and reactive species to assess NOX involvement in cardiovascular disease as well as to devise new therapies
Michael Palladino - Combined molecular and genetic approach to identify key proteins required for neural maintenance with age and understand the role of these gene products in human disease conditions.
Francisco Schopfer
Shivendra Singh - The Singh laboratory focuses on preclinical and clinical investigations of novel agents derived from dietary (eg, broccoli) and medicinal plants (eg, Withania somnifera) for chemoprevention of cancers.
Thomas Smithgall - Protein-tyrosine kinase structure, function, and drug discovery in cancer and infectious diseases.
Ben Van Houten - Mitochondrial dysfunction in cancer and neurodegenerative diseases , structure function of DNA repair enzymes/proteins.
Qiming Jane Wang - Targeting protein kinase D by small molecular inhibitors for cancer therapy; signaling mechanisms of protein kinase D in cancer.
Zhou Wang - Mechanism of androgen receptor intracellular trafficking in prostate cancer cells. Roles of androgen-response genes in prostate cancer and benign prostatic hyperplasia.
Peter Wipf - Medicinal chemistry and drug design. Total synthesis of natural products.
Lin Zhang - Genetic basis of differential responses to anticancer drugs and mechanisms of drug-induced apoptosis.

Program Achievements

Molecular Pharmacology Graduate Program Ranked #2 in National Research Council Rankings


Time to dissertation Defense
, last five graduating classes:  4.6 years, Completion Rate: 86.49%

First Author Publications (All students, past 5 year mean):  2.03;   Total Publications: 5.10

F-series Grants (F30/F31) (All Students, past 5 year mean):  12/34 (35%) 

Ranked #9 in National of Institute of Health funding of departments of Pharmacology

Ranked in the top 15 in funding for twenty-four consecutive years

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