News Prior to 2021
Joel Vazquez Passes Oral Qualifying Exam
Congratulations to graduate student, Joel Vazquez. Joel passed his oral qualifying exam on Monday, October 26 and is now officially a PhD candidate. Joel’s mentor is Dr. Mitch McGill. Joel is also a second year trainee on the Systems Pharmacology and Toxicology T32 Training Grant. Joel’s research interests are the identification of biomarkers for liver injury. Way to go, Joel!
Dr. Ho Receives Distinguished Alumni Award
Professor and Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation, Shuk-Mei Ho, is the recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Award from her alma mater, University of Hong Kong. The award, which was presented in a virtual ceremony on October 8, 2020 celebrates her achievements at UAMS, as well as the University of Cincinnati. At the latter institution, she was Director of the Cincinnati Cancer Center and the Hayden Family Endowed Chair for Cancer Research, Associate Dean for Basic Research, and Jacob G. Schmidlapp Professor and Chairperson of the Department of Environmental Health until 2019. Congratulations, Dr. Ho!
Lance Benson and Brian Parks Receive Milner Scholarship
Congratulations to graduate students, Lance Benson (mentor, Dr. Mu) and Brian Parks (mentor Dr. Brents) who were selected as the inaugural Dr. Glen and Lori Millner Distinguished Scholars! Lance and Brian will each receive an annual stipend supplement of $1500 and are eligible to receive the supplement for up to four years or their graduation. Scholars are chosen from second year GPIBS students in the PTET track who are currently working on their dissertation project with PTET faculty.
This new program has been established through a generous gift to the UAMS Graduate School by Dr. Glen Millner and his wife, Lori Millner, to honor his parents, Charles and Marion Millner. Dr. Milner is a 1989 graduate of the interdisciplinary toxicology program and one of our department alumni.
Dr. Fantegrossi Awarded DEA Contract
Associate professor, Bill Fantegrossi was recently awarded a contract with the U.S. Department of Justice, Drug Enforcement Administration to conduct studies focusing on a series of drugs which are likely precursors for the classical hallucinogen lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) and on a series of drugs with structural similarities to the psychostimulant / dissociative drug of abuse phencyclidine (PCP). The contract studies will use behavioral models relevant to abuse liability to explore the in vivo pharmacology of these novel drugs, in comparison with their positive controls (LSD and PCP), generating data important for regulatory actions, including relative potency (ED50 values), relative effectiveness (Emax values), and onset and duration of action. New drugs of abuse are constantly appearing for sale on the streets and on the internet. The DEA contracts work with laboratories to determine abuse liability of these novel compounds to use in regulatory decisions. Way to go, Dr. Fantegrossi!
Dr. MacMillan-Crow Awarded U.S. Patent
Congratulations to professor, Lee Ann MacMillan-Crow on her new U.S. Patent. Dr. MacMillan-Crow devised new, efficient methods and compositions for detecting mitochondrial dysfunction, the malfunctioning of the structures that produce energy for a cell, often due to stress or disease. Her patent relates to certain reporter molecules (OMA1) that are especially useful for drug discovery and detection of diseases associated with mitochondrial dysfunction. Way to go!
COBRE Phase 2 Grant Funded
Congratulation to professors Alexei Basnakian and Nancy Rusch and assistant professors Shengyu Mu and Amanda on receiving a P20 COBRE Phase 2 grant entitled “Center for studies of host response to cancer therapy.” This grant, led by Dr. Marjan Boerma in the College of Pharmacy, is based on the hypothesis that improving cancer therapy requires a comprehensive approach that includes themanagement of cancer therapy-related toxicities to normal tissues. Dr. Basnakian is a leader of Core B, and co-investigator of Core A. Drs. Rusch and Mu serve as mentor and co-investigator, respectively, in the Project 4 “Mechanism and prevention of doxorubicin-induced lymphedema” led by Dr. Stolarz.
Congratulations to Dr. Stephen Shrum!
Congratulations to Dr. Stephen Shrum on his successful dissertation defense on Tuesday, August 11! Stephen’s dissertation research focused on evaluating a new therapeutic to reduce injury to donor kidneys caused by cold storage. Stephen’s mentors were Drs. Lee Ann MacMillan-Crow and Nancy Rusch.
Stephen joined the department as a graduate student in the Interdisciplinary Biomedical Sciences (IBS) program in 2014. He became a scholar of the Systems Pharmacology and Toxicology (SPaT) T32 Training Program in 2015 and was awarded an American Heart Association Predoctoral Fellowship the following year. We wish Dr. Shrum continued success and look forward to following all his future accomplishments!
Dr. Peterson elected Chair of COM Research Council
Congratulations to associate professor, Dr. Eric Peterson, who was elected Chair-elect of the College of Medicine Research Council effective July 2020 and will rise to the position of Chair in 2021. Dr. Peterson was chosen by his peers who are basic, clinical, and translational investigators in the College of Medicine.
The Research Council has umbrella responsibility for research development and coordination with the COM and advises the Executive Associate Dean for Research on all matters which is considers significantly related to the efficient and effective function of the College’s research missions. In addition, the council reviews applications for intramural pilot and bridging grants , reviews core facilities, and reviews proposed campus policies and revisions to existing policies that has potential to impact the College’s research mission. Way to go Dr. Peterson!
Dr. Rhee Scores Golden Apple for Fifth Year in a Row!
Associate professor, Sung Rhee, received the Sophomore Golden Apple Award for the fifth consecutive year! This award is given annually at the medical school graduation to one faculty member in each year of the medical school curriculum. Dr. Rhee also received the Senior Gold Sash award this year. Way to go, Dr. Rhee!
Graduate Students Honored at 2020 Convocation Ceremony
Congratulations to our graduate students who received recognition at the 2020 UAMS Convocation. Due to COVID-19, this ceremony, held on Friday, May 15, was virtual. Five students from the department who graduated in 2019 received their diplomas along with three graduate students who are candidates for graduation in 2020. Two students, Brittney Garner and Laura Ewing each received their graduate certificate in regulatory sciences. We are proud of our graduates and wish them continued success in the future!
Dr. Rusch wins Educational Innovation Award
Dr. Rusch was recognized with a Dean’s Honor Award for Educational Innovation for her leadership of the Health Sciences Innovation and Entrepreneurship (HSIE) postdoctoral training program. The HSIE program is funded by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) at the NIH and is a component of the UAMS Translational Research Institute (TRI). Rusch co-directs the program with Curtis Lowery, MD, director of the UAMS Institute for Digital Health and Innovation.
“Dr. Rusch worked tirelessly on the TL1 component of the CTSA application and recruited a cadre of nearly 70 faculty to support the training of postdoctoral fellows,” her nominators wrote. TRI director Laura James, MD, and HSIE co-leaders Nancy Gray, PhD, president of BioVentures LLC, and Kevin Sexton, MD, also lauded Rusch for sharing program concepts with other CTSA hubs, “She is the ideal candidate for this award because of the innovative way she brings entrepreneurial education to the postdoctoral learners at UAMS and has built a sustainable educational team as a resource for these learners”.
Parajuli Selected as Research Academy Scholar
Congratulations to associate professor, Nirmala Parajuli, who was selected as one of six UAMS Research Academy Scholars. This inaugural award is a joint initiative of the UAMS Division of Research and Innovation and the UAMS Translational Research Institute. The program includes the Mentored Grant Writing Program with training from a nationally recognized grant writing expert and mentorship from UAMS faculty with strong track records of federal funding. Program mentors for this new program include professors, Alexei Basnakian and Shuk-Mei Ho, and associate professor Ricky Leung.
Mu Lab Develops Alternative PCR Test
Dr. Shengyu Mu has tested an alternative PCR-based assay to detect COVID-19 using a TRIzol purification kit and the AgPath-ID One-Step RT-PCR reagents sold by ThermoFisher. The protocol was shared with the Department of Pathology as a potential alternative method using available reagents to screen clinical samples.
With the assistance of postdoctoral fellow, Dr. Yunmeng Liu, Dr. Mu also organized a list of supplies and equipment in the Department of Pharm/Tox needed by the UAMS clinical laboratory for COVID-19 testing. Donating labs include those of Drs. Basnakian, Leung, Mu, Parajuli, Peterson and Rusch. The department provided a stock of pipettors, vials, screw-cap tubes, bleach, and other items.
Windows and Mirrors
Last month the Division of Diversity, Inclusion and Equity extended an invitation to celebrate Black History Month by participating in the Windows and Mirrors exercise, an institution-wide, small group exercise.
Due to the demand, the activity was extended until March 20th. The Windows and Mirrors small group exercise was facilitated by Sylvia Stewart, Education Specialist for the Pharmacology and Toxicology Department.
On February 28, 2020, the Pharmacology and Toxicology Department celebrated Dr. Phillip Mayeux’s retirement. Dr. Mayeux you will be truly missed. Thank you for your years of service!
Yuet-Kin “Ricky” Leung, Ph.D., has joined the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology as an Associate Professor. Dr. Leung received his doctorate in biochemistry from The Chinese University of Hong Kong in 2001 and completed his postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, where his research focused on the contribution of estrogen receptor beta to prostate cancer.
Dr. Leung began his faculty career as an Assistant Professor in the Division of Environmental Genetics and Molecular Toxicology, Department of Environmental Health, at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine in 2005, rising to the rank of tenure-track Associate Professor. He directed the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences-funded Integrative Technologies Support Core of the Center for Environmental Genetics at University of Cincinnati. Dr. Leung is an established investigator in the field of hormone regulation of cancer and is an expert on the developmental origin of cancer risk and the impact of environmental estrogens/endocrine disruption on epigenetics reprogramming. He is a full member of the American Association for Cancer Research and is Co-investigator on two National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences-funded projects.
Shengyu Mu, Ph.D., Receives Grant to Continue Work on High Blood Pressure as Immune Disorder
By Amy Widner
June 6, 2019 | A University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) researcher who is seeking an explanation for why millions of people worldwide do not respond to the current available treatments for high blood pressure has received $1.89 million from the National Institutes of Health to continue this groundbreaking work.
Shengyu Mu, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology in the UAMS College of Medicine, has devoted his career to understanding the causes behind this common condition. His lab has found evidence to support an emerging theory that the salt-sensitive variety of high blood pressure may actually be an immune disorder.
“Twelve years ago, no one believed there was an immune connection behind salt-sensitive hypertension,” Mu said. “Now it’s a hot topic. My lab has found evidence to suggest this, as have labs at Vanderbilt, Wisconsin and Duke universities. A picture is coming together, and the next step is understanding exactly how it works so we can pave the way for designing immunological strategies of treatment.”
More than 1 billion people worldwide have high blood pressure. In the United States, one in every three adults is living with high blood pressure. It is the leading cause of heart disease and stroke, which are major causes of death in the United States.
Although there are many drugs available to treat high blood pressure, fewer than 50% of patients are able to control their blood pressure with the current options. The work of Mu and others indicates that new drugs targeting the immune system could be key.
“Hypertension is a silent killer. By the time most patients find out they have it, it’s already caused damage,” Mu said. “It is important to identify unknown mechanisms involved in the pathogenesis of high blood pressure so we have better options for treating this life-altering and deadly condition.”
Mu’s lab previously found that immune cells, white blood cells called T lymphocytes (T cells), can infiltrate the kidney and stimulate excessive salt retention, resulting in blood pressure elevation.
Mu was able to pinpoint the overall process: When too many of a major subtype of these T cells interact directly with — and actually touch — the cells located in the area of the kidneys that reabsorb salt, the kidney’s absorption of salt increases, thereby impairing the function of the kidneys to filter out excessive salt. Salt-sensitive high blood pressure is the result.
With this current five-year NIH grant, Mu aims to provide, for the first time, evidence and mechanisms of how these T cells interact with kidney cells. Specifically, he will identify the key molecules involved in the interaction between T cells and kidney cells. He will define the signaling pathways involved when the process goes wrong and results in disordered immune activity.
“Dr. Mu’s work has the potential to effect positive change for millions of people,” said Nancy J. Rusch, Ph.D., professor and chair of the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology. “Hypertension is a common — and frustrating — condition to treat, with major impacts on global population health. Dr. Mu’s breakthroughs in this area are invaluable, and we are gratified to see that the NIH recognizes the importance of supporting his vanguard research.”
In his work, Mu has been aided by Yunmeng Liu, Ph.D., a postdoctoral research associate, and Sung Rhee, Ph.D., an associate professor, both in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology; and Steve Post, Ph.D., a professor in the Department of Pathology.
Before coming to UAMS in 2013, Mu received his medical degree from TianJin Medical University in China and a Ph.D. from the University of Tokyo in Japan. Previously, his work has been published in Nature Medicine, the Journal of Clinical Investigation and Nature Communications. He has received the New Investigator award and the Research Recognition award from the American Heart Association and the American Physiology Society for his contributions to research.
Mahmoud Kiaei, Ph.D., had his groundbreaking ALS research mentioned in The Scientist, “New ALS Therapies Move Closer to the Clinic.”
Dr. Kiaei’s research was also mentioned in the online site Alzforum, “ALS Mutations Stiffen Prolifin, Steer Protein Toward Aggregation.” You can read this article on the Alzforum website.
Training Grant of More Than $740,000 to Encourage Drug Development Renewed for Five Years
July 23, 2018 | A prestigious grant has been renewed for $742,840 over five years that gives Ph.D. students in the biomedical sciences at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) an added foundation in pharmacology and toxicology research.
The National Institute of General Medical Sciences awarded the Institutional Predoctoral Research Training Grant (T32) to the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology in the UAMS College of Medicine. The funding will allow the department’s Systems Pharmacology and Toxicology (SPaT) Training Program to provide two trainees a year with a stipend, specialized coursework, research mentorship and training in entrepreneurship, career development, networking, leadership and grant writing.
“The prestige of the grant helps us recruit the best trainees from across the country to our program,” said Philip Mayeux, Ph.D., SPaT program director and professor in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology.
UAMS is one of only 31 pharmacology and toxicology training programs in the nation to receive the funding. Others include Vanderbilt University, Emory University, Harvard Medical School and Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.
“We are the smallest program to receive funding, and renewal was by no means guaranteed,” said Mayeux, who wrote the original and renewal grants for the funding. “We underwent a site visit and the reviewers were impressed with our trainee’s publications, awards and national recognition.”
The trainees come from a variety of areas of interest and pursue research that combines these interests with a focus on pharmacology and toxicology. Trainees supported by the first grant worked on drug abuse and behavior; cancer; drug toxicity; and bone, kidney and cardiovascular health.
“The ultimate goal is increasing drug discovery and drug development to benefit patients,” Mayeux said. “We would like to have more biomedical scientists in industry and academia who also have a background in drug development, so that – even if they don’t directly develop the drugs themselves – they know how to work collaboratively with pharmacologists to help scientific discoveries translate from the research stage to the development of medications and therapeutic interventions.”
Thirty-one UAMS faculty have partnered with the SPaT Fellowship to provide training and mentorship. SPaT is a partnership of the UAMS’ Graduate School, College of Public Health and College of Pharmacy; Arkansas Children’s; and the National Center for Toxicological Research, which is part of the Food and Drug Administration. The UAMS Translational Research Institute, UAMS College of Medicine and Arkansas Biosciences Tobacco Research Committee provide matching funding for the grant, allowing there to be one additional SPaT trainee each year along with the two funded by the federal grant.
UAMS is the state’s only health sciences university, with colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Health Professions and Public Health; a graduate school; hospital; northwest Arkansas regional campus; statewide network of regional centers; and seven institutes: the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute, Myeloma Institute, Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute, Psychiatric Research Institute, Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging and Translational Research Institute. It is the only adult Level 1 trauma center in the state. UAMS has 2,834 students, 822 medical residents and six dental residents. It is the state’s largest public employer with more than 10,000 employees, including 1,200 physicians who provide care to patients at UAMS, its regional campuses throughout the state, Arkansas Children’s Hospital, the VA Medical Center and Baptist Health. Visit www.uams.edu or www.uamshealth.com. Find us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Instagram.
By Amy Widner| July 23rd, 2018|
Julia was awarded a pre-doctoral fellowship in pharmacology/toxicology from the PhRMA Foundation (Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America Foundation). These are competitive national awards, which provide 20K annually for the awardee’s stipend plus a small spending allowance for their research. The award will start January 1, 2018 for a duration of two years. Julia’s application was titled “The regulation of mitochondrial fusion in cold storage kidney preservation.” Her dissertation mentor is Dr. Lee Ann MacMillan-Crow.
Max Ford successfully defended his dissertation, “Characterization of Novel Molecular Scaffolds for Cannabinoid Receptor Ligands: Implications for Drug Development” on July 28, 2017. He accepted a postdoctoral fellowship at National Center for Toxicological Research. Congratulations Max!
Shengyu Mu, Ph.D., Research Recognition Award
Dr. Mu was awarded a Research Recognition Aware from the American Physiology Society (APS) Renal section during the EB meeting in April 2017. Congratulations Dr. Mu!
Congratulations to Dr. Amanda Stolarz, postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Pharmacology & Toxicology and Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, for being a member of the team that won the Donald W. Reynolds Governor’s Cup business-plan competition on 4/11/17. Their business plan focused on using a unique delivery system to deliver chemotherapeutic agents directly to tumors. Their team won $25,000 for first place on the business plan to develop this patented technology of which UAMS Professor, Dr. Michael Borrelli, was one of the inventors. Amanda’s team was coached by Dr. Carol Reeves as part of the UA-Fayetteville Entrepreneurship Graduate Program. Dr. Jay Gandy served as the UAMS mentor and the team also received advice from BioVentures director, Dr. Nancy Gray. It was a successful outcome for a new effort to form business teams between UA and UAMS trainees.
Lirit Franks Defends Dissertation
Lirit Franks successfully defended her dissertation, “Pre-Clinical Drug Development of Two Novel Structural Classes of Cannabinoid Ligands: Indole Quinuclidines and Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulators ” on December 9th, 2016. Congratulations Lirit!
Clark Sims Defends Dissertation
Clark Sims successfully defended his dissertation, “Preclinical Studies of Targeted Therapy in an Infant Model of Sepsis-Induced Cardiorenal Syndrome ” on November 4th, 2016. He accepted a postdoctoral fellowship at Arkansas Children’s Nutrition Center, UAMS Department of Pediatrics. Congratulations Clark!
Pharmacology/Toxicology Department Holiday Video 2016
The department held their annual holiday party with a great turn-out.
Holiday spirit in Pharmacology/Toxicology department.
Shengyu Mu, Ph.D., Kidney Council New Investigator Award
Dr. Mu was awarded a Kidney Council New Investigator Award at the AHA Council on Hypertension, 2016.
Dr. Stolarz was awarded a PhRMA Award for her project which explored the possibility that doxorubicin directly inhibits the rhythmic contractions of lymph vessels, which remove fluid from tissues to prevent lymphedema. We have identified a FDA-approved drug as a potential anti-lymphedema medication.
Sung Rhee, Ph.D., Golden Apple Award
Dr. Rhee received the Golden Apple Award. He was voted “Best Teacher” by the Sophomore Medical Students.
Nancy Rusch, Ph.D. and Sung Rhee, Ph.D., Red Sash recipients for 2016
Stephen Shrum, AHA Predoctoral Fellowship
Stephen, a student in Dr. MacMillan-Crow’s lab, was awarded an AHA Predoctoral Fellowship on “The Role of MitoBK Channels in Renal Cold Preservation.” Congratulations Stephen!
Michael Owens, Ph.D., Receives Fellow Award
Dr. Owens received an Arkansas Research Alliance Fellow Award in December 2015 in recognition of sustained scientific and entrepreneurial accomplishments in Arkansas Universities.
Brenda Gannon Defends Dissertation
Brenda Gannon successfully defended her dissertation, “In vivo characterization of major ‘bath salt’ constituent 3,4-methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV) in mice” on September 24, 2015. She accepted a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Texas at San Antonio. Congratulations Brenda!
Chris Moore Awarded Ph.D.
Chris Moore, a student in Dr. Rhee’s lab, received his Ph.D. on June 15, 2015. The title of his defense was “The Role of Postsynaptic Density-95 Scaffolding in Cerebral Vasodilation: Implications for Stroke in Beta-Blocker Therapy.” Way to go Chris!
Melinda Gunnell Wins Staff Excellence Award
Melinda Gunnell, Research Assistant in Dr. Owen’s lab was honored with a Staff Excellence Award at this year’s College of Medicine Awards Day. Melinda Gunnell has worked for Dr. Owens in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology since 1986, providing technical and administrative support for the Center for Alcohol and Drug Abuse Studies.
Dae Song Jang Receives Ph.D.
Dae Song Jang, a graduate student in Dr. Basnakian’s lab and the Interdisciplinary Biomedical Sciences program, received his Ph.D. on April 21, 2015. He defended “New Endonuclease Inhibitors and Their Therapeutic Applications.”
Emily Reichard Graduates
Emily Reichard, a student in Dr. Eric Peterson’s lab, received her Ph.D. on April 13, 2015 after successfully defending her dissertation, “PEGylation of an Anti-Methamphetamine scFv: Pharmacokinetic and Neurological Implications.”
Jack A. Hinson Honorary Symposium
On March 13, an honorary symposium was held celebrating the career of Distinguished Professor, Jack A. Hinson, Ph.D. The day-long symposium included presentations by colleagues Laura James, M.D., Jeff Moran, Ph.D., Lee Ann MacMillan-Crow, Ph.D, and Nancy Rusch, Ph.D. The keynote presentation was given by Jack Uetrecht, Ph.D., Professor and Canada Research Chair in Adverse Drug Reactions from the University of Toronto. A reception, attended by family, friends, and colleagues followed the symposium. Dr. Hinson served the department for over 25 years.
Neil Detweiler Receives Ph.D.
Neil Detweiler, a student in Dr. Rusch’s lab, successfully defended his PhD dissertation, “Properties and Therapeutic Potential of the Large-Conductance Calcium-Activated Potassium Channel in Pulmonary Arterial Smooth Muscle” on March 17, 2015. Dr. Detweiler accepted a post doctoral position at the University of New Mexico. Congratulations!
Ben Lieblong Appointed ASPET Washington Fellow for 2015
Ben Lieblong (mentor, Nancy Rusch) was appointed as an ASPET Washington Fellow for 2015. He will serve as an advocate to ensure public support and funding for research on Capitol Hill as well as in his home district. Lieblong received his undergraduate degree from Centenary College. His research focuses on radiation-induced heart disease as a potentially severe side effect of radiotherapy for thoracic cancers such as breast, lung, and esophageal.
Clark Sims Receives AHA Predoctoral Award and F31 Award
Clark Sims, a third year Pharmacology student in Dr. Mayeux’s lab was the recipient of not one, but two awards this year. Sims received an AHA Predoctoral Award on “Renal microcirculatory failure in a rat pup model of pediatric sepsis.” Funding for this project began July 1, 2014. Sims also received an F31 Award for “Targeting renal perfusion and mitochondrial oxidants in a model of infant sepsis.” Funding for the F31 will begin in January 2015 for three years). Congratulations Clark!
Brenda Gannon Selected for T32 Support by PRI
Brenda Gannon, a Ph.D. candidate in Dr. Bill Fantegrossi’s lab, was chosen to received support from Dr. Clint Kilts’ T32 in the Psychiatric Research Institute. Way to go, Brenda!
Chuck Hay Chosen for Support by SPaT T32 Training Program
Hay, a second year student in the Interdisciplinary Toxicology program was selected to receive support from the Systems Pharmacology and Toxicology T32 Training Grant. Hay will receive support beginning with the 2014-2015 academic year and will continue to receive support through Spring 2016. Congrats Chuck!
Fantegrossi and Singh Promoted to Rank of Associate Professor
This spring, Dr. Bill Fantegrossi and Dr. Sharda Singh each received a promotion to the rank of Associate Professor! Congratulations!
Dr. Wenger Retirement Celebrated
On May 8, the department celebrated the pending retirement of Dr. Galen Wenger. Dr. Wenger served the department for 36 years, most recently as Vice Chair. In addition to faculty, staff and students from the department, his celebration was attended by many other colleagues, friends and family. Pictured left, Dr. Wenger is seated in the engraved chair that was presented to him at the reception, with his family surrounding him. Dr. Wenger will officially retire on June 30, 2014.
Shanthi Vadali Receives Her Ph.D.
Shanthi Vadali, a Pharmacology student in the lab of Dr. Steve Post successfully defended her Ph.D. dissertation, “Lipid Rafts Modulate Class A Scavenger Receptor Function in Macrophages” in July 2014. Way to go, Dr. Vadali!
Naeem Patil Receives Doctorate
Naeem Patil, a student in Dr. MacMillan-Crow and Dr. Mayeux’s lab, successfully defended his Ph.D. dissertation, “Renal Mitochondrial Dysfunction: Novel Therapeutic Targets to Treat Sepsis Induced Acute Kidney Injury” on May 15, 2014 Congratulations Dr. Patil!
Nisha Nanaware-Kharade Receives Ph.D.
Nisha Nanaware-Kharade, a student in Dr. Peterson’s lab, successfully defended her PhD dissertation, “Dendribodies – A Novel Nanotechnology Based Platform for Improving Pharmacokinetics and Multimerization of Anti-Methamphetamine Antibody Fragments” ” on May 6, 2014. She is pictured left with her husband, Sujay Kharade, Ph.D., who is a 2011 graduate of the Pharmacology program. Congratulations Dr. Nanaware-Kharade!
Accolades from EB 2014
Congratulations to our students and postdoc who represented us well at EB 2014.
- Amanda Stolarz (pictured) won first place in the graduate student poster competition sponsored by the Integrative Systems, Translational and Clinical Pharmacology Division of ASPET.
- Neil Detweiler won second place in the graduate student poster competition sponsored by the Cardiovascular Pharmacology Division of ASPET.
- Brenda Gannon won second place in the graduate student poster competition sponsored by the Behavioral Pharmacology Division of ASPET.
- Sudip Banerjee won third place in the postdoc poster competition sponsored by the Toxicology Division of ASPET.
- Chris Moore was selected to give an oral presentation for the Cardiovascular Pharmacology Division of ASPET Student Showcase.
- Doug Smith (SURF student with Dr. Fantegrossi) won second place in the Undergraduate Poster Competition.
- Catherine Allen (SURF student with Dr. Moran) was selected for a symposium presentation.
Dr. Rusch named Graduate School Faculty of the Year
The Graduate School named departmental chair Nancy Rusch, Ph.D., along with Jean McSweeney, Ph.D., R.N. (College of Nursing) as Graduate Faculty Members of the Year. Drs. Rusch and McSweeney received the award during the Graduate School’s annual spring reception. “In just the last five years, combined, these ladies have served as major advisors to eight Ph.D. graduates, more than a dozen additional Ph.D. advisory committees, co-authored more than 30 publications with graduate students, and mentored five students to successful multi-year extramural predoctoral training grants,” stated Robert McGehee, Ph.D, Dean of the UAMS Graduate School. “Both of them are very committed to graduate students and are highly engaged in graduate education at every level, and in a small way, this award recognizes their commitment and accomplishments.”
Andrew Norwood Receives Doctorate
Andrew Norwood, a student in the IBS program and in Dr. Fantegrossi’s lab, successfully defended his PhD dissertation, “Effects of neonatal visceral pain on abuse-related effects of morphine in rats” on December 17, 2013. Congratulations Dr. Norwood!
Asif Pathan Successfully Defends Dissertation
Asif Pathan, Pharmacology Graduate Student in Dr. Rusch’s lab, successfully defended his PhD dissertation, “Contribution of the TRPC3 Channel to Vascular Tone and the Development of Hypertension” on December 10, 2013. Congratulations Dr. Pathan!
Michael Hambuchen Receives his Ph.D.
Pharmacology Graduate Student, Michael Hambuchen, Pharm.D., in Dr. Owens’s lab, successfully defended his PhD dissertation titled “Combination Immunotherapy for Early and Continuous Protection from Methamphetamine Adverse Effects”. Congratulations Dr. Hambuchen!
Moore awarded ASPET Washington Fellowship
Christopher Moore (mentor, Sung Rhee) was appointed as an ASPET Washington Fellow for 2014. Moore will serve as an advocate to ensure public support and funding for research on Capitol Hill as well as in his home district. Moore received a B.S. in ecology and evolutionary biology from the U. of Arizona and an M.S. in pharmaceutical QA/RA from Temple University. His Ph.D. research focuses on scaffolding protein -mediated control of cerebral blood flow during hypertension and stroke. Before entering graduate school, he worked in drug discovery at Parke-Davis and Pfizer Pharmaceuticals.
Detweiler and Moore Receive AHA Pre-Doctoral Awards
Two Ph.D. students from the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology received pre-doctoral training awards from the American Heart Association in 2013.
Neil Detweiler (mentor, Nancy Rusch) received an award titled “Targeting the BK channel as vasodilator therapy for pulmonary hypertension.” Pulmonary hypertension is a rapidly progressing disease with a poor prognosis. One fundamental defect is reduced K+ current in the pulmonary arterial smooth muscle cells, which causes pathogenic vasoconstriction. Neil’s studies are designed to define the properties of a distinct K+ channel type in the pulmonary circulation, which may represent a vasodilator drug target. Pictured is Neil receiving an award for excellence from Dr. Bobby McGehee, Dean of the UAMS Graduate School.
Chris Moore (mentor, Sung Rhee) received an award for his AHA grant titled “Role of PSD95 scaffolding in cerebral vasodilation: Implications for stroke in beta blocker therapy.” Beta-blockers, drugs that block β-adrenergic receptors (β-AR), are a mainstay feature in the treatment of hypertension. Moore’s study builds on the observation that certain voltage-gated K+ (Kv) channels and β1-ARs co-assemble with a scaffolding protein (PSD95) to form a “vasodilator complex” in cerebral arteries. He will determine if the β1AR-PSD95-Kv vasodilator pathway in cerebral arteries is blocked by β-blocker therapy, resulting in cerebral vasoconstriction and a higher risk of stroke in patients administered β-blocking drugs, even if they achieve normal levels of blood pressure.
Reed wins World Championship
Congratulations to Ronald Reed, Research Assistant, whose Pinto gelding “Skippen In The Wind” won the World Champion Pole Bending competition and was recently named Reserve World Champion in the barrel racing division at the Pinto World Championship Show in June.
Mayeux Appointed Department Vice Chair
Dr. Philip Mayeux was appointed as the Vice Chair of the Department in August 2013. He assumed this responsibility from Dr. Galen Wenger, who served as the department’s Vice Chair since 2006 but will retire in June 2014. Dr. Mayeux has been a faculty member in the department since 1991 after finishing a postdoctoral fellowship in the UAMS Division of Nephrology. In addition to his research and mentoring duties, Dr. Mayeux is also Director of Education for the department, overseeing the Pharmacology and Interdisciplinary Toxicology graduate programs. He served as the Director of the Pharmacology Graduate Program for 10 years and is Director of the ASPET –funded Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) program and the new T32 grant from the NIGMS.
Owens Honored as Distinguished Faculty Scholar
Michael Owens, Ph.D., was honored as this year’s College of Medicine Dean’s Distinguished Faculty Scholar on April 9 (shown with then-Dean, Dr. Debra Fiser). Dr. Owens presented a lecture titled “Therapeutic antibodies for the treatment of addiction – at the interface of chemistry and biology”. In addition to his appointment as Professor in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Dr. Owens directs the UAMS Center for Alcohol and Drug Abuse Studies. He also directs the Novel Methodologies and Pilot Studies Program in the Translational Research Institute (TRI) at UAMS. He is a founding partner and the Chief Scientific Officer of InterveXion Therapeutics LLC, a pharmaceutical company focused on developing and bringing to clinical trials monoclonal antibody and vaccine medications to treat methamphetamine addiction. Dr. Owens has mentored faculty and trainees in the College of Medicine for many years, including four post-doctoral fellows and twelve Ph.D. or MD/Ph.D. students. He was the recipient of the Chancellor’s Faculty Teaching Award in 2006, and is actively involved in graduate and medical education.
Fantegrossi Recognized for Publications
The March 2013 cover of Neuropsychopharmacology features a manuscript co-authored by Dr. William Fantegrossi, his graduate students Brenda Gannon and Sarah Zimmerman, and Dr. Kenner C. Rice, Chief of the Chemical Biology Research Branch at NIDA. The article characterizes the behavioral effects of a key component of emerging “Bath Salt” drugs of abuse. Despite the seemingly innocuous name, “bath salt” products contain powerful mood-altering substances. Strategic modifications to the chemical structures of illicit substances allowed legal access to bath salt products until very recently. Dr. Fantegrossi and co-authors Dr. Lisa Brents, Dr. Paul Prather, Sarah Zimmerman and Amanda Saffell published another manuscript, which was highlighted on the cover of the September 2013 issue of The Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics. “Drug-Drug Interactions of the Synthetic Cannabinoids JWH-018 and JWH-073” characterizes multiple psychoactive synthetic cannabinoids (SCBs), which are frequently used in combination in SCB products known as “K2” and “Spice”.