Mission




Pharmacology
evolving

With new faculty and research thrusts, the department of pharmacology is positioning itself to provide superior training for students in the field and to address major diseases including cancer, diabetes, atherosclerosis and psychiatric illness. Alan Frazer, PhD, professor, recruited from the University of Pennsylvania as chairman in 1993, has recruited several new faculty to complement existing strengths in the department in cardiovascular and brain research.

"Pharmacology has evolved as a scientific discipline from one that merely described the overt effects of biologically active chemicals to one that explores the mechanisms, at a molecular level, through which drugs cause biological effects," Dr. Frazer said. "It is now becoming possible, for example, to understand the specific structural sites on a protein with which a drug interacts to alter the function of that protein, be it an enzyme, receptor or whatever."

New recruits include Lee F. Kolakowski, Jr., PhD, studying the largest gene family in mammals—the G-protein-coupled family of receptor genes—which plays important roles in many aspects of pain and endocrine diseases including diabetes; Lisa M. Ballou, PhD, studying the mechanisms that control cellular proliferation, which can affect diseases such as cancer and atherosclerosis; Feng Liu, PhD, studying insulin resistance and diabetes; David A. Morilak, PhD, studying neurotransmitter systems and their role in stress-related diseases and the development of psychotherapeutic drugs; Richard Lin, MD, studying the mechanisms underlying the development of atherosclerotic lesions in blood vessels; and Julie Hensler, PhD, studying molecular mechanisms underlying neurotransmitter receptor expression.

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