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Department of Pharmacology

Department of Pharmacology

Graduate Training Committee (GTC) & Training Faculty Members


The administration of the program is managed by the Graduate Training Committee (GTC). The GTC is one of the most active committees in the department. The Committee administers all aspects of a student’s training, including student recruiters, individual program design, review and approval of laboratory rotation proposals, scheduling of the preliminary and comprehensive examinations, and selection of a thesis advisory committee. The Committee maintains an active role in overseeing the training in its entirety, making sure that curriculum, research experiences, and seminars provide an integrated and complete training experience. Entering students choose an advisor from the GTC to help guide them through their first year of training.

Current GTC members

J. David Port, PhD, Chairman
Mair E.A. Churchill, PhD
Scott Cramer, PhD
Mark L. Dell’Acqua, PhD
Tatiana Kutateladze, PhD
Timothy McKinsey, PhD
Raphael Nemenoff, PhD
Nancy Zahniser, PhD




Current Training Faculty members

Bayer, K. Ulrich Molecular memory mechanisms in cellular signal transduction and neuronal function; CaMKII and Ca2+ signaling

Benke, Timothy A. Mechanisms of synaptic plasticity and impacts of development and epilepsy

Churchill, Mair E. A. Structure and mechanism in gene regulation; biophysical and structural studies of protein-nucleic acid and protein-protein complexes in chromatin and bacterial pathogenesis

Cramer, Scott D. The molecular dissection of signaling pathways in prostatic cells, the identification of prostate progenitor or stem cells, and understanding epithelial-stromal interactions in normal and abnormal ductal morphogenesis.

Dell’Acqua, Mark L. Organization of signaling complexes by protein kinase and phosphatase anchoring proteins; mechanisms regulating neuronal second messenger signaling in synaptic plasticity

Eisenmesser, Elan Z. Viral protein/host protein interactions, enzyme dynamics, and ligand/receptor interactions involved in cancer progression

Ford, Heide L. My laboratory studies the parallels between normal development and tumorigenesis/metastasis with a focus on the role of the Six1/Eya transcriptional complex in TGF-beta signaling, epithelial to mesenchymal transition, cancer stem cells, and metastasis

Freed, Curt R. The dynamic role of dopamine in movement; neural transplantation for Parkinson’s disease

Freedman, Robert M. D. Central nervous system physiology and pharmacology and its application to clinical psychiatry

Gerber, Anthony N. Targeting the glucocorticoid receptor for the treatment of inflammatory disorders of the lung such as asthma.

Heasley, Lynn E. Investigating the role of MAP kinases and specific receptor tyrosine kinases in normal and transformed growth of lung epithelial cells using techniques of molecular and cell biology in lung epithelial cells and human lung cancer cell lines

Heidenreich, Kim A. Signal transduction pathways that regulate neuronal survival and apoptosis

Henson, Peter M. Inflammatory process as a paradigm of complex interacting cell networks and communication molecules and as a component of human diseases

Hodges, Robert S. Structure-function studies of multi-protein complexes; de novo design of model proteins to test our understanding of protein folding and structure and to design proteins with the desired biological/immunological activities; synthetic peptide vaccines and antimicrobial therapeutics

Hoffman, Paula L. Neuropharmacology; mechanisms of alcohol tolerance, dependence, and craving; genetic aspects of alcohol dependence and affective disorders; biochemical/molecular biological/genetic analysis of CNS receptors and signal transduction systems

Hunter, Lawrence E. Development and application of advanced computational techniques for biomedicine, particularly the application of statistical and knowledge–based techniques to the analysis of high–throughput data and of biomedical texts

Jones, David N. M. Molecular mechanism of alcohols and anesthetic actions; structure and function of biomolecules; NMR spectroscopy, x-ray crystallography, biophysics and molecular biology

Kennedy, Matthew J. Molecular mechanisms of activity-triggered synaptic remodeling.

Kieft, Jeffrey S. The way by which viral RNAs, with their diverse and dynamic structures, can hijack the machinery of an infected cell and using this information to understand basic biological processes

Kutateladze, Tatiana G. Biochemistry and structural biology, NMR and crystal structures of proteins implicated in cancer, structure based drug design

Leonard, Sherry S. Molecular neurobiology of nicotine addiction in mental illness

Leslie, Christina C. Signal transduction mechanisms regulating phospholipase A2 activation and the production of lipid mediators of inflammation

Li, Chuan-Yuan Molecular mechanisms of tumor response to therapy; roles of stem cells in tumor response to therapy

McKinsey, Timothy A. Epigenetic regulation of heart failure; signaling and transcriptional mechanisms of muscle disease

Murphy, Robert C. Pharmacology and biochemistry of leukotrienes and bioactive lipids, lipid mediators of cellular response using biochemical mass spectrometry

Nemenoff, Raphael A. Signaling pathways controlling growth and differentiation of vascular smooth muscle cells; Role of eicosanoids in lung cancer

Port, J. David G-protein linked receptors and their regulation; regulation of mRNA stability

Proenza, Catherine The cellular and molecular machinery responsible for cardiac pacemaking and its regulation by the autonomic nervous system

Sather, William A. Signaling through calcium channels in neurons

Serkova, Natalie J. Animal Imaging (MRI, PET, CT); Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy (MRS) based metabonomics; Cancer Metabolism and Physiology; Anti-Cancer Drugs; Ischemia/Reperfusion in Organs

Sikela, James M. Neurogenomics; disease gene discovery; human genome evolution and variation

Song, Kunhua Using stem cells as a tool in the treatment of heart disease.

Tabakoff, Boris Molecular pharmacology; pharmacogenetics; neuroadaptation and neurotransmitter metabolism/enzymology; CNS receptor molecular pharmacology and genetics/genomics of addiction

Theodorescu, Daniel I'm a physician scientist. Our translational molecular biology laboratory focuses on identifying the molecular mechanisms leading to bladder cancer metastasis and their potential applications to patients with this disease. Our group is at the forefront of the development of biomarkers and therapeutics in bladder cancer. My clinical practice is limited to bladder cancer management including surgery such as radical cystectomy using state of the art robotic techniques (i.e. da Vinci).

Thorburn, Andrew M. Understanding the signaling mechanisms that control apoptosis in cancer development and during the response of tumor cells to cancer therapeutics

Traystman, Richard J. Neuroscience, cerebrovascular physiology, stroke, cardiac arrest/CPR, respiration, cardiopulmonary physiology

Tucker, Chandra L. Study and manipulation of protein homeostasis and signaling pathways in live cells, optogenetic tools for controlling protein interactions, synthetic biology, cytosolic protein misfolding, yeast genetics/genomics.

Voelker, Dennis R. Phospholipid transport processes in eukaryotic cells. Pulmonary surfactant proteins – structure and function.

Wang, Xiao-Jing TGF-beta signal transduction, molecular mechanisms of cancer development and progression, functions of tumor suppressors and oncogenes

Weiser-Evans, Mary C. M. Defining the molecular signaling mechanisms regulating vascular smooth muscle cell function in the setting of vascular fibroproliferative diseases, including restenosis and pulmonary hypertension

Zahniser, Nancy R. Mechanisms involved in dopamine transporter trafficking; cocaine’s differential actions among individuals; brain neurotransmitter receptor regulation




Program External Advisory Committee



Executive Vice President of Research & Development,
Senior Advisor to the Deputy Director for Intramural Research, National Institutes of Health (Retired)


Vice-Provost for Research
University of Pennsylvania​


School of Natural Sciences, Mathematics, and Business
Fisk University


Department of Pharmacology
University of North Carolina

​R. Adron Harris, Ph.D.
M. June and J. Virgil Waggoner Professor
Director, Waggoner Center for Alcohol and Addiction Research
University of Texas