Skip to main content
Sign In

Neuropharmacology Research


Faculty within the Pharmacology department working in the area of neuroscience and neuropharmacology focus their research in characterizing the cellular and molecular mechanisms which underlie neuronal function and survival. Because neuroscience/neuropharmacology is an increasingly integrative discipline, research at UCD utilizes many different core facilities and crosses departmental boundaries. One of the strengths of our faculty lies in the fact that they have experience in a number of different scientific disciplines.

Specific areas of neuropharmacology research at UCD includes the study of molecular memory and synaptic plasticity, neuronal survival and apoptosis, neuronal signal transduction, and neuropharmacology. In addition the pharmacology faculty has a particularly strong interest in the neuropharmacology of drugs of abuse.


Primary Faculty

Jason Aoto​Assistant Professor
Ph.D., 2009, Univ. of California, Berkeley
We are interested in dissecting the distinct functions of synaptic cell-adhesion molecules implicated in neuropsychiatric disorders and addiction in the context of disease-relevant brain circuits. Using cutting-edge multidisciplinary techniques, we are able to interrogate these molecules with cell-type and synapse-specific resolution.

Bayer, K. Ulrich, Professor
Ph.D., 1996, Heinrich-Pette-Institute
Molecular memory mechanisms in cellular signal transduction and neuronal function; CaMKII and Ca2+ signaling.

Chris P. Ford
Associate Professor
Ph.D., 2003, Univ. of Alberta
We study synaptic mechanisms by which neuromodulators like dopamine and acetylcholine are encoded in mesolimbic and nigrostriatal circuits through GPCRs.  We study the basic biology of these circuits and the alterations that occur in neurological and psychiatric diseases.

Dell'Acqua, Mark L., Professor and Vice Chairman
Ph.D., 1995, Harvard Univ.
Organization of signaling complexes by protein kinase and phosphatase anchoring proteins; mechanisms regulating neuronal second messenger signaling in synaptic plasticity.

Hoffman, Paula L., Professor
Ph.D., 1974, City Univ. of New York
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., Professor
Ph.D., 1989, Yale Univ.
Computational biology, bioinformatics, gene expression array analysis, natural language processing, biomedical ontologies, machine learning.

Kennedy, Matthew J., Assistant Professor
Ph.D., 2003, Univ. of Washington
Molecular mechanisms of activity-triggered synaptic remodeling.

Kutateladze, Tatiana G., Professor
Ph.D., 1988, Moscow State Univ.
Epigenetics, phosphoinositide signaling, structural biology, NMR and crystal structures of proteins implicated in cancer, structure based drug design.

Sather, William A., Associate Professor
Ph.D., 1988, Univ. of Washington
Signaling through calcium channels in neurons.

Smith, Katharine R., Assistant Professor
Ph.D., 2010, University College London
Molecular mechanisms of excitatory and inhibitory synaptic plasticity.

Secondary Faculty

Benke, Timothy A., Associate Professor
M.D./Ph.D., 1995, Baylor College of Medicine
Mechanisms of synaptic plasticity and impacts of development and epilepsy.


Deitrich, Richard A., Professor Emeritus
Ph.D., 1959, Univ. of Colorado, UCDHSC
Metabolism of alcohols and aldehydes; behavioral pharmacogenetics.