Pharmacology, Toxicology and Experimental Therapeutics Track Faculty

The primary department of each Pharmacology, Toxicology and Experimental Therapeutics track faculty member is listed.

*not accepting students as a major advisor

Antiño Allen, PhD
Pharmaceutical Sciences
Web profile
Our laboratory utilizes pharmacologic approaches and genetic models to examine how the changes in the neuronal microenvironment e.g. inflammation, oxidative stress affects cognitive function.

John M. Arthur, MD, PhD
Internal Medicine/Nephrology
Web profile
I am a physician-scientist with research and clinical interests in the prediction of outcomes in kidney disease. The research in my laboratory focuses on the discovery and validation of biomarkers in renal diseases including acute kidney injury, diabetic nephropathy, chronic kidney disease and glomerular diseases like IgA nephropathy. We use targeted analysis of candidate markers by multiplexed bead array, ELISA and mass spectrometry and proteomic discovery analyses by liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry to identify and qualify biomarkers in animal models and humans.

Nukhet Aykin-Burns, PhD
Pharmaceutical Sciences
Web profile
My primary interests concern the effects of environmental toxins, such as lead and PCBs, on oxidative stress and the effects of mitochondrial dysfunction and oxidative stress on radiation-induced normal tissue damage (especially skin and liver).

Alexei Basnakian, MD, PhD
Pharmacology and Toxicology
Web profile

Marjan Boerma, PhD
Pharmaceutical Sciences
Web profile
The overall objective of my research is to elucidate biological mechanisms of cardiovascular injury from exposure to ionizing radiation and to identify potential methods for intervention. We focus on radiation-induced heart disease as a side effect of radiation therapy to the chest and cardiovascular effects of exposure to space radiation. Our research is performed with animal models of whole-body irradiation and image-guided localized irradiation combined with in vivo non-invasive echocardiography, ex vivo cardiac function measurements, and histological and molecular analyses.

Gunnar Boysen, PhD
Environmental and Occupational Health
Web profile
My research focuses on how environmental and occupational exposure, nutrition, and genetic diversity influence cancer initiation, promotion, and progress.

Lisa Brents, PhD
Pharmacology and Toxicology
Web profile
The objective of my laboratory is to develop treatment strategies for opioid use disorder that can be administered to pregnant women without negatively affecting fetuses.

John Chelonis, PhD
Pediatrics
Behavioral assessment across species (rats, monkeys, and humans)

William Fantegrossi, PhD
Pharmacology and Toxicology
Web page
Research in my laboratory is currently focused on several categories of emerging drugs of abuse, including synthetic cannabinoids (constituents of K2/”Spice” smoking blends), analogues of cathinone (present in “bath salts” preparations), and novel arylcyclohexylamines (related to PCP and ketamine.) In an effort to better understand the biological actions of these emerging drugs of abuse, we use behavioral pharmacology techniques in rodents to compare these compounds with more the well-known drugs of abuse that these emerging drugs are designed to mimic (such as the phytocannabinoid delta9-THC, psychostimulants like MDMA and methamphetamine, and PCP).

Brendan Frett, PhD
Pharmaceutical Sciences
Web profile
Dr. Frett’s research is focused on small molecule drug design and developing enabling chemical methodologies to expedite the drug discovery process. In particular, he is interested in identifying single-agent therapies capable of controlling multiple, dysregulated pathways in cancer.

Robert Griffin, PhD
Radiation Oncology
Web profile
Radiation and Cancer biology, exosomes and cell to cell crosstalk in stem  cell differentiation and activity, nanomedicine applications

Abdallah Hayar, PhD
Neurobiology and Developmental Sciences
Web profile
Electrophysiology of olfactory bulb and cerebellar neurons – Alcohol research – Rhythmic motor movements such as licking and running – Effects of radiation on neuronal function – Imaging neuronal network – Synchronous bursting of neurons.

Shuk-Mei Ho, PhD
Pharmacology and Toxicology
Web profile
Dr. Ho’s research interests pertain to the role of hormones and endocrine disruptors, and the interplay between genetics and epigenetics, in disease development as well as how early-life experiences can be a root cause in later development of cancers, asthma, neural disorders and other complex chronic diseases.

Ricky (Yuet-Kin) Leung, PhD
Pharmacology and Toxicology
Web profile
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.  

Hong-yu Li, PhD
Pharmaceutical Sciences
Web profile
Research interests include drug discovery of targeted therapeutics focusing on Single Agent Poly-pharmacology (SAP), drug discovery research for “non-druggable” targets, and development of a kinase fragment library and novel synthetic methodologies for accelerating the drug discovery process.

Jia Liu, PhD
Microbiology and Immunology
Web profile
The Liu lab studies host intrinsic innate signaling using poxvirus as probing tool. We also engineer poxviruses for immunotherapy of cancer such as ovarian cancer.

Annie Lumen, PhD
National Center for Toxicological Research
Web profile
Research in Dr. Lumen’s lab focuses on the development of computational (PBPK/PD/Dose-Response) models for drugs and environmental chemicals as a reliable predictive tool to support relevant regulatory decisions. We develop modeling frameworks that have the capability to do cross-species extrapolations, invitro to invivo extrapolations, and capture life-stage dependent kinetic alternations to guide dose selection during pregnancy and support other risk assessment needs for drugs and chemicals that are of interest to the agency. My lab is equipped with various modeling platforms including MATLAB, acslX, WinNonlin, GastroPlus, Simbiology, and Cluster Computation for parallel processing

Lee Ann MacMillan-Crow, PhD
Pharmacology and Toxicology
Web profile
Elucidation of biochemical mechanisms involved with kidney damage during sepsis and transplantation. Focus on mitochondria, cell death, and oxidant generation as well as novel therapies to reduce damage.

Mark Manzano, PhD
Microbiology and Immunology
Web profile
We are interested in studying primary effusion lymphoma (PEL), an aggressive B cell cancer caused by the Kaposi’s sarcoma-associated herpesvirus or human herpesvirus 8 (KSHV/HHV8). PEL tumor cells rely on the constitutive expression of virally encoded genes that globally reprogram host gene expression to create a conducive environment optimal for tumor cell proliferation and survival.

Mitch McGill, PhD
Environmental and Occupational Health
Web profile
Research interests include: drug-induced liver injury, biomarkers, liver regeneration, and clinical laboratory testing.

Grover P. Miller, PhD
Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Web profile
My research group investigates the role of enzymes, especially cytochromes P450 (CYP), in the activation and processing of xenobiotic chemicals, such as drugs, pollutants, and dietary compounds, from a chemist’s perspective. We specialize in the identification and validation of biochemical mechanisms through experimental approaches and often develop analytical tools along the way. Nevertheless, our projects are often multi-disciplinary and collaborative to effectively tackle complex challenges by recruiting experts in computational, analytical, and clinical research.

Shengyu Mu, MD, PhD
Pharmacology and Toxicology
Web profile
The primary interest of my research has been focusing on the pathogenesis of hypertension in renal salt-reabsorption and the systemic vasculature. The long-term goal of our laboratory is to understand the mechanism of the development of hypertension and to translate our basic scientific discovery to clinics to contribute to a final cure for hypertension.

Nirmala Parajuli, DVM, PhD
Pharmacology and Toxicology, and ACHRI
Web profile
The long-term interest of my laboratory is to understand molecular mechanisms responsible for cold storage (CS)-induced renal damage. My research focuses on exploring novel mechanisms by which CS alters protein quality and renal function after transplantation, and importantly, to identify a possible therapeutic target that could lead to improved renal outcome after transplantation. Specifically, I plan to investigate the roles of proteasome, heat shock proteins and complement pathway during CS plus transplantation. We have established a rat kidney transplantation model, which will be fundamental in studying my independent research project on CS mediated renal damage. In addition, I’m also collaborating with Dr. MacMillan-Crow to study the molecular mechanisms that disrupt mitochondrial dynamics during renal CS and transplantation using our rat kidney transplant model.

Eric Peterson, PhD
Pharmacology and Toxicology
Web profile
The overall goal of our research is to develop new antibody-based medications to treat chronic and acute methamphetamine (METH) abuse.

Craig Porter, PhD
Arkansas Children’s Nutrition Center, Arkansas Children’s Research Institute
Web profile
The overall goal of our research program is to better understand the role of the mitochondrion in health and disease. Areas of focus include studying the role of mitochondrial proton leaks in the regulation of metabolic rate, as well as studying the impact of lifestyle (i.e. diet/exercise) and pharmacological interventions on bioenergetics in several settings including developmental programming, obesity and trauma.

Steve Post, PhD
Pathology
Web profile
We are interested in understanding the mechanisms by which scavenger receptors regulate macrophage function in chronic inflammatory disease.

Paul Prather, PhD
Pharmacology and Toxicology
Web profile
I am a cellular/molecular pharmacologist whose research interests involve understanding the neurobiological mechanisms underlying the addictive states produced by drugs of abuse. Specifically, for over 20 years I have been investigating the cellular and molecular mechanisms of signal transduction mediated by G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs) with which drugs of abuse interact, specifically opioids and cannabinoids.

Zhiqiang Qin, MD, PhD
Pathology
Web profile
Dr. Qin’s research focuses on cancer oncology and microbiology. He has an active NIH/NCI research award titled Periodontal Bacteria Enhance Oral KSHV Pathogenesis and Kaposi’s Sarcoma Development in HIV+ Patients.

Robert Reis, PhD
Geriatrics
Web profile 
My research focuses on the molecular genetics of longevity and age-associated diseases. I was trained in genetics, and turned to C. elegans as a model system in which to define and characterize genes that govern longevity.  Using novel gene-mapping methods we developed, we discovered over 27 highly-significant loci for lifespan, resistance to stresses, and Darwinian fitness.  Using chromosomal fine-mapping, we identified one longevity gene as REC-8, a meiotic cohesin that helps hold tetrads together and was thought to be silent in mitotic cells.  However, we showed that it actually makes somatic tissues more vulnerable to diverse stresses, while stabilizing the meiotic genome, and its depletion in C. elegans or knockout in haploid yeast increases lifespan.  My group was the first to identify the Pirin gene on the human X chromosome as a regulator of post-menopausal bone loss in women, a discovery confirmed in a Chinese population.  We also pioneered the role of homologous recombination in the development and progression of myeloma, prostate, and breast cancers. We were the first to note that cells from many different cancer types feature very high levels of homologous recombination, and high expression of the Rad51 recombinase complex that mediates it.  We are now working chiefly on genetic factors that regulate lifespan, and that contribute to protein aggregates — key toxic intermediates in neurodegenerative diseases.  We have identified proteins in specific aggregate types that are highly enriched in Alzheimer’s cortex, and many of them play functional roles in aggregate formation in C. elegans models. Their toxic effects turn out to be mediated in large part by blockage of proteasomes and autophagosomes.  We are combining exploratory proteomics and immunochemistry in human cortex and cultured neurons, with the facile genetics of nematodes, to better understand how aggregates begin, grow, and ultimately disrupt proteostasis.

Sung Rhee, PhD
Pharmacology and Toxicology
Web profile
Calcium and potassium channels on the surface membrane of vascular muscle cells control calcium influx and potassium efflux, respectively, and thereby regulate arterial diameters. My research interests are 1) using ion channel genes as therapeutic agents to normalize blood pressure, and 2) understanding molecular mechanisms that regulate traffic and expression of ion channels in vascular muscle cells during hypertension and related conditions. We use a wide range of techniques including molecular biology, biochemistry, viral gene transduction, patch clamp, vessel perfusion, confocal and super-resolution imaging, and in vivo microscopy.

Nancy Rusch, PhD
Pharmacology and Toxicology
Web profile
Our research focuses on mechanisms of vascular diseases including hypertension and lymphedema, and therapeutics for these disorders.

Sumit Sarkar, PhD
National Center for Toxicological Research
Web profile
Over the last 8 years, my research work has been focused on effect of various neurotoxicants in the brain vasculature and other components of the neurovascular unit. The components of the neurovascular units (pericytes, microglia, astrocytes, and neurons, and basal lamina) act as an intricate network to maintain the neuronal homeostatic microenvironment. Thus, disruptions to this intricate cell network due to exposure to neurotoxicant can lead to neuron malfunction and symptoms characteristic of CNS diseases. My lab investigates the role of neurovascular elements and microvasculature in neurodegenerative disorders with special emphasis on Parkinson and Alzheimer’s disease using rodent models.

Frank Simmen, PhD
Physiology and Biophysics
Web profile
Our laboratory is interested in the physiological drivers of colon and breast cancers.  Current work in the laboratory and via our collaborations includes: 1) elucidating the role of Krüppel-like factor 9 (KLF9) in cancer suppression; 2) understanding how the hormonal milieu (focus on insulin and the obesogenic environment) affects tumor cell growth; and 3) characterizing the role of Malic Enzyme 1 (ME1) in oncogenesis.  Projects use a combination of novel mouse models, human cell lines and tissues, and OMICs technologies and are translational and highly collaborative.

Amanda Stolarz, PhD
Pharmaceutical Sciences
Web profile
My research interest is focused on learning the techniques and approaches that underscore hypothesis-driven basic and translational cardiovascular/lymphatic pharmacology research. The primary focus is the mechanisms of damage to the lymphatic system during cancer chemotherapy and developing therapeutic strategies to reduce this damage. The laboratory uses techniques such as tissue dissection, enzymatic cell isolation, flow cytometry, vascular functional studies, and gene and protein expression assays. The laboratory also employs both surgical techniques to measure lymph flow in vivo using high-speed optical imaging.

Another area of interest is the potential effects of cardiovascular drugs on lymphatic function. Hypertension has been associated with an increased risk of lymphedema in breast cancer patients. It is unclear whether this increased risk is due to the role of lymphatics in hypertension pathology or the medications used to treat hypertension. Thus we aim to study the effect of antihypertensive agents on lymphatic function and determine the contribution of antihypertensive agents to the development of lymphedema in cancer patients.

Ayako Suzuki, MD & PhD
Gastroenterology
Web profile

Vladimir Zharov, PhD, DrSc
Otolaryngology and Nanomedicine
Web profile
Dr. Zharov is currently pioneering research in identifying circulating tumor cells in the blood vessels of cancer patients, which will have a major impact on future cancer diagnosis, treatment and follow-up.

Fang Zheng, PhD
Pharmacology and Toxicology
Web profile
Molecular and celllular mechanisms of epilepsy, stroke and other neurological diseases and the discovery of novel therapeutics

Boris Zybaylov
Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Web profile
I am interested in the role of non-canonical DNA structures and long non-coding RNAs in human disease. I am also interested in clinical applications of microbiome-derived protein biomarkers