News & Events
Dr. Singh Honored at Graduate School Awards
Each year, Faculty members of the Graduate School for Biomedical Science and Professional Studies are recognized for their outstanding research accomplishments and contributions to graduate education. Harpreet Singh, PhD, received the Early Investigator Award during this year’s ceremony, held on May 11 at The Logan. Congratulations to Dr. Singh for this recognition!
Shaili Aggarwal, postdoctoral fellow in Ole Mortensen's laboratory, was selected as a recipient of the Brody Family Medical Trust Fund fellowship for medical research in incurable diseases. The prestigious fellowships fund up to two consecutive years for full-time postdoctoral fellows in the early stages of their research into cutting-edge treatments. The fellowships were created to support local research into diseases that have a substantial societal impact and for which no consistently effective cure presently exists.
Shaili's research focuses on the development of alternative treatments for cocaine addiction by targeting a novel functional site within the dopamine transporter that is distinct from the cocaine binding site.
Golden Apple Awards
The 2017 Golden Apple Awards: (L) nominees for awards from the Class of 2019, and (R) Michael White, PhD, receiving his Golden Apple from a member of the Class of 2019.
Success and Honors at SNIP
Drs. Peter Gaskill and Olimpia Meucci received the Outstanding Service and Support Award from the Society of Neuroimmune Pharmacology (SNIP). The award is given in recognition of extraordinary service in facilitating the operations of society initiatives and was presented during the 23rd SNIP Annual Conference, held in Philadelphia March 29 – April 1, 2017. This year's event was the largest SNIP meeting so far and received extraordinary support from several institutions, including a broad representation from Drexel University.
Drs. Meucci and Gaskill served, respectively, as chair of the Local Organizing & Scientific Committee and vice-chair of the Meetings Committee. Several other members of the Drexel community contributed to the success of the meeting. The conference featured:
- An opening presentation by Dr. Ana Nunez, associate dean of diversity, equity and inclusion at Drexel University College of Medicine, titled "Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Neuroimmune Pharmacology: A Mentoring Challenge"
- Poster and oral presentations by Drexel students and faculty (view program for details [PDF])
- A special symposium on neuroinflammation and CNS disorder
- A closing event dedicated to academic drug discovery, which was presented by Dr. Paul McGonigle and included as guest speakers Drs. Katherine Jordan (Coulter program director, Drexel University), Sandhya Kortagere (associate professor of microbiology and immunology, DUCOM) and Michael Wood (principal, Neupharm, LLC).
Outstanding support for the conference came from both Drexel University College of Medicine and Drexel University College of Arts and Science. Special thanks go to Drs. Brian Wigdahl, Elisabeth Van Bockstaele, Itzhak Fisher and John Bethea for supporting training and scientific activities at the SNIP 2017 conference.
Drs. Meucci and Gaskill receive recognition for their service and support of the 23rd SNIP Annual Conference.
Drs. Fatatis and Kim to Present at Coulter Forum
Congratulations to Alessandro Fatatis, MD, PhD, and his team (Kerberos Biopharmaceuticals)* and Felix Kim, PhD, and his team (Context Therapeutics)* whose projects were selected for presentation at the Coulter Investment Forum being held in Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti, Michigan, May 16-17, 2017. The teams will present their work, which is supported in part by the Coulter-Drexel Translational Research Awards:
- Fatatis/Kerberos project: “New Small Molecule Compounds for the Therapy of Metastatic Cancer”
- Kim/Context project: “Lead Optimization of Sigma1 Inhibitor for Castration-Resistant Prostate Cancer”
*For more information about the Drexel-Coulter program or Kerberos/Context start-ups, please visit: drexel.edu/coulter/startups/overview
Dr. Kim and Colleagues Publish in Cancer Research
Congratulations to Felix Kim, PhD, and his group, who recently published a new study in the journal Cancer Research. This work sheds light on a key mechanism of prostate cancer progression and was done in collaboration with Dr. Karen E. Knudsen, director of the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center (SKCC) and chair of cancer biology at Thomas Jefferson University. The publication is entitled "Sigma1 Targeting to Suppress Aberrant Androgen Receptor Signaling in Prostate Cancer" (Thomas, JD, et al, Cancer Research [9.329] February 24, 2017).
Dr. Fatatis Awarded Breast Cancer Grant
Alessandro Fatatis, MD, PhD, has been awarded a 2017 Breast Cancer Alliance Exceptional Project Grant for his work on metastatic cancer. Congratulations to Dr. Fatatis and his collaborators!
Dr. Meucci Receives Visiting Fellowship
Congratulations to Olimpia Meucci, MD, PhD, who was awarded a senior visiting fellowship at the Institute of Advanced Studies of the Alma Mater Studiorum, University of Bologna, Italy. The fellowship will enable Dr. Meucci to foster international interdisciplinary collaborations as well as new academic programs.
New Faculty Positions Available
The Department of Pharmacology and Physiology at Drexel University College of Medicine
announces the opening of two tenure-track faculty positions, with an anticipated start date of
July 1, 2017. Read more [PDF].
Drs. Meucci and Gaskill Chair SNIP 2017
Olimpia Meucci, MD, PhD, is serving as committee chair for the upcoming Society on NeuroImmune Pharmacology (SNIP) international conference this spring. Peter Gaskill, PhD, is associate chair of the committee. Graduate School Dean Elisabeth Van Bockstaele and Microbiology Chair Brian Wigdahl are also serving on the leadership for the event. Learn more about SNIP 2017.
Drs. Campbell and Singh Receive W.W. Smith Grants
Paul Campbell, PhD, and Harpreet Singh, PhD, are recipients of grants from the W.W. Smith Charitable Trust. Dr. Campbell's project is "Targeting a K-Ras-HuR Signaling Loop in Malignant Pancreatic Cancer." Dr. Singh's project is entitled "Regulation of Cardiac BKCaChannels and Their Role in Cardioprotection From Ischemia-Reperfusion Injury." The W.W. Smith Charitable Trust is a foundation that supports medical research primarily in the fields of heart disease, cancer and AIDS.
Honors and Recognition at Upcoming Meetings
Second-year PhD student Stacia Lewandowski (Mortensen Lab) was selected from the poster submissions for an oral presentation of her work at the 2016 Mid-Atlantic Pharmacology Society Annual Meeting.
Shaili Aggarwal, PhD, postdoctoral fellow in the Mortensen Lab, received a 2016 NIDA Diversity Scholar Travel Award to participate in the annual Society for Neuroscience Meeting. Dr. Andreia Mortensen's group was selected to present a Neuroscience 2016 Hot Topic at the same meeting, which will be held November 12–16. Their presentation is entitled "Neuroprotective properties of novel positive allosteric modulators of EAAT2."
Excellence Recognized at AHA Dinner
Drs. Patrick Osei-Owusu and Harpreet Singh both received Certificates of Research Excellence from the American Heart Association at a dinner held on October 20, 2016.
Discovery Day Awards
The department would like to congratulate the following individuals for placing at this year's Discovery Day, the College of Medicine's annual day of research, held this year at the Pennsylvania Convention Center on October 20, 2016:
Outstanding Medical Student Poster: Honorable Mention
Aaron Wengrofsky | Mentor: Harpreet Singh
Outstanding Clinical Resident/Fellow Research Poster: First Place
Matthew Meleka | Mentor: Patrick Osei-Owusu
Outstanding Clinical Resident/Fellow Research Poster: Honorable Mention
Shontreal Cooper | Mentor: Patrick Osei-Owusu
Outstanding Senior Graduate Student Poster: Third Place
Lindsay Festa | Mentor: Olimpia Meucci
Outstanding Postdoctoral Fellow Poster: First Place
Devasena Ponnalagu | Mentor: Harpreet Singh
Outstanding Undergraduate Poster: First Place
Ayush Parikh | Mentor: Seena Ajit
In addition, Frances Munoz, PhD, postodoctoral fellow in Dr. Huijuan Hu's lab, was commended for her video on how to prepare a poster. Kudos as well to Botros Shenoda, MD, graduate student in Dr. Seena Ajit's lab, who was selected for platform presentation and delivered a very engaging and informative talk.
Fatatis Recognized by Kimmel Cancer Center
Alessandro Fatatis, MD, PhD, received the Director’s Outstanding Investigator Award from the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center. This award recognizes Sandro’s unique contribution to the leadership and research mission of the SKCC and his critical role in spearheading a number of fruitful collaborations among members of the Center and other local institutions including, of course, Drexel University College of Medicine.
Nolan Named Predoctoral Fellow
Rachel Nolan (a Neuroscience PhD student in the Meucci Lab) was recently appointed as a National Research Service Award (NRSA) predoctoral fellow on Drexel University’s Interdisciplinary and Translational Research Training Grant in NeuroAIDS, which is funded by the National Institutes of Health (National Institute of Mental Health grant T32-MH079785).
Coulter Funding Received
Drs. Andreia Mortensen, Ole Mortensen and Joseph Salvino who received a $12,000 award from the Coulter program for the in-life, plasma and brain exposure studies (oral and IV) and ADME assays, for GT949 and GT939.
Mary Shaw Memorial Travel Award
In 2005, the Department of Pharmacology & Physiology established the Mary Shaw Memorial Travel Award in honor of Dr. Mary Hoffman Shaw, assistant professor of pharmacology and physiology, who passed away on May 20, 2004, after a battle with metastatic breast cancer.
As a faculty member, Dr. Shaw devoted the bulk of her efforts to the education of medical and graduate students, and served as co-director of the first-year Medical Physiology and Graduate Physiology courses. The travel award provides support for up to four graduate students in the department to present their research at a national meeting.
Congratulations go out to the following individuals who received awards this year:
- Bradley Nash, PhD student (Dr. Olimpia Meucci, mentor)
- Jennifer Ross, PhD student (Dr. Elisabeth Van Bockstaele, mentor)
Please contact Carmen Cruz-Adames, firstname.lastname@example.org, for more information on the application process.
Anyone interested in making a contribution to the Mary Shaw Memorial Travel Award Fund should contact Liz Kopen at email@example.com.
Welcome New Students!
The department is pleased to welcome the following students to our programs in 2016:
Pharmacology & Physiology PhD Program
Gordon Hill (MD/PhD Program)
Catherine Theilen (MD/PhD Program)
Pharmacology & Physiology MS Program
Drug Discovery & Development MS Program
Dr. Meucci Receives NIH R21 Grant
Olimpia Meucci, MD, PhD, received an R21 grant from the NIH National Institute on Drug Abuse for her project "Effects of HIV-1 neurotoxins on lipid rafts-associated proteins."
Drs. Fatatis and Meucci Receive NIH R01 Grant
Alessandro Fatatis, MD, PhD, and Olimpia Meucci, MD, PhD, received an R01 grant from the National Cancer Institute of the NIH for a project titled "Role of CX3CR1 in breast cancer metastasis."
Congratulations to Ole Mortensen, PhD, and Huijuan Hu, PhD, for their promotions to associate professor in the Department of Pharmacology and Physiology at Drexel University College of Medicine! Drs. Mortensen and Hu joined our faculty in 2009 and 2010, respectively, and are highly engaged in the research and educational mission of the department.
Grants Awarded to Dr. Osei-Owusu
Patrick Osei-Owusu, PhD, has been awarded an AHA Scientist Development Grant. This is a four-year grant examining the role of RGS2 in myogenic tone regulation. Dr. Osei-Owusu has also been selected to receive the AHA Kidney Council Young Investigator Award, which will be presented to at the AHA annual meeting in September. This award is related to his work on the role of elastin insufficiency in hypertension development and chronic kidney disease.
Melissa Manners and Seena Ajit Recognized in Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News (GEN)
Recent Pharmacology & Physiology PhD program graduate Melissa Manners was quoted in Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News (GEN) about her research into the role of epigenetics in chronic pain. Her thesis advisor and co-author, Seena Ajit, was also quoted in the article. Read the article on the GEN website or the original research paper from the journal Epigenetics & Chromatin.
Coulter-Drexel Translational Research Funds Received
The department scored very well in the latest round of funding from the Coulter-Drexel Translational Research Partnership Program, which is dedicated to improving human health care by supporting translational research.
Two projects in the Department of Pharmacology & Physiology have been awarded funds:
New Small Molecule Compounds for the Therapy of Metastatic Cancer
PIs/Co-PIs: Fatatis, Meucci, Salvino
Lead Optimization Of Sigma1 Inhibitor For Castration-Resistant Prostate Cancer
PIs/Co-PIs: Kim, Salvino
Dr. Singh Receives Two Grants
Harpreet Singh, PhD, received an American Heart Association grant for his project, "Role and Mechanism of Mitochondrial Chloride Intracellular Channel 5
in Cardioprotection." He also received a five-year R01 award from NIH for "Chloride Intracellular Channels in Cardiac Mitochondria and Their Direct Role in Cardioprotection."
(click to enlarge)
The Department of Pharmacology & Physiology held a two-day retreat where faculty had an opportunity to share their research, present educational initiatives and lead student-focused activities.
The retreat was held on May 9 and 10 at The Hub Commerce Square on Market Street in downtown Philadelphia.
Faculty Honored with Graduate School Awards
Three Pharmacology & Physiology faculty members received Graduate School Faculty Awards:
- Alessandro Fatatis, MD, PhD: ICO - Mentoring Award, MS Career-Oriented Programs
- Seena Ajit, PhD: DBS - Mentoring Award, PhD Programs
- Ole Valente Mortensen, PhD: Outstanding Researcher Awards - New and Early Stage Investigator(s)
Dr. Mathiasen Awarded PEG Grant
Joanne Mathiasen, PhD, received a 2016-2017 Professional Enrichment and Growth (PEG) Grant from Drexel. Her award will be used to attend online training, workshops and conferences to learn about emerging techniques in online instruction.
Botros Shenoda Receives Dean's Fellowship
Pharmacology & Physiology PhD student Botros Shenoda was awarded a Dean's Fellowship for Excellence in Collaborative or Themed Research. This fellowship is designed to support PhD-track students with innovative research projects to further develop their research experience. Botros will receive financial support for one year in the form of a scholarship, in addition to funds for supplies and/or travel.
Dr. Campbell Receives PhRMA Foundation Award, April 2016
Paul Campbell, PhD, was chosen by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) Foundation as a recipient of a Research Starter Grant in Translational Medicine and Therapeutics. The award provides $100,000 for a one-year period.
Dr. Mortensen Gives Invited Talk
Ole Mortensen, PhD, was invited to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) to present a talk at the 8th Annual Julius Axelrod Symposium. Dr. Mortensen's talk was "Novel ways of modulating monoamine transporter function."
Golden Apple Awards
Congratulations to the following members of our teaching faculty who were recipients of 2016 Golden Apple Awards:
Successful Thesis Defenses
We would like to congratulate the following department graduate students for successfully defending their thesis:
- Hillevi Ets, PhD – defended March 17, 2016
- Melissa Manners, PhD – defended March 18, 2016
- Fei Shen, PhD – defended March 31, 2016
CURE Grant Awardees
Congratulations to the following faculty members, who received CURE Tobacco Formula Funds:
- Shubha Gururaja Rao, PhD, MSc, for "Role of chloride Intracellular Channel (CLIC) in regulating mitochondrial structure/function and life span" (co-investigator: Harpreet Singh, PhD, MSc)
- Patrick Osei-Owusu, PhD, for "Functional Profiling of Novel Tools for Dissecting Pathophysiological Mechanisms of Cardiovascular Disorders" (co-investigator: Huijuan Hu, PhD)
- Andréia C.K. Mortensen, PhD, for
"Novel allosteric modulator of glutamate transporter EAAT2 for neuroprotection after brain trauma" (co-investigator: Joseph M. Salvino, PhD)
Career Development Grant Winner
Peter Gaskill, PhD, was awarded a Drexel University Career Development Grant. These awards are designed to help faculty increase their exposure to colleagues at other institutions who can be collaborators and role models while introducing outside scholars to faculty at Drexel. The program provides funding for Drexel faculty to develop networks, nationally or internationally, with colleagues whose work complements activities at Drexel.
2016 – 2017 Seminar Schedule
All seminars take place in the New College Building, 245 N. 15th Street, in the John A. Harvey Conference Room (Room 8312) at 11 a.m.
Dr. Joan Berman, Albert Einstein College of Medicine
Mechanisms of Neuroinflammation and Toxicity: Critical Roles in NeuroAids
Dr. Habibeh Khoshbouei, University of Florida
Sigma-1 Receptor Regulation of Dopamine Neurotransmission: Beyond the Surface Membrane
Dr. Fadi Akar, Mount Sinai School of Medicine
Arrhythmia Mechanisms and Therapies in Large Animal Models of Advanced Heart Failure
Dr. Dennis Kolson, University of Pennsylvania
Brain Heme Oxygenase -1 Deficiency, Oxidative Stress and HIV-Associated Neuro Cognitive Disorders: Potential Therapeutic Targeting
Dr. Daniel Marenda, Drexel University
Flying in the Face of Disease: Using Drosophila to Identify Drugs for Alzheimer's Disease
Dr. Phil Wedegaertner, Thomas Jefferson University
Gβγ Regulation of Golgi Function and Structure
Faculty Candidate Seminar: Bradley K. Taylor, PhD, Department of Physiology, University of Kentucky
Trauma Establishes an Opponent Process of Latent Pain Sensitization and Mu Opioid Receptor Constitutive Activity
Dr. Elizabeth Heller, University of Pennsylvania
Elucidating the Function of Epigenetic Remodeling in Reward Pathology
Dr. Mohamed Trebak, Penn State University College of Medicine
STIM-ORAI Mediated Ca2+ Signaling in Disease: Lessons from Smooth Muscle
Dr. Marco Cosentino, University of Insubria, Italy
Adrenergic and Dopaminergic Pathways in the Nervous and Immune System as Opportunities for Novel Therapeutics
Dr. Yuan-Xiang Tao, Rutgers-New Jersey Medical School
Epigenetic Mechanisms of Neuropathic Pain
Dr. Ru-Rong Ji, Duke University School of Medicine
Pain and Autism: Peripheral Regulation
Faculty Candidate Seminar: Jacqueline M. Barker, PhD, postdoctoral fellow, Department of Neuroscience, Medical University of South Carolina
Arbitration Between Actions and Habits by the Prefrontal Cortex
Dr. Jean-Pierre Vilardaga, University of Pittsburgh
Endosomal and Mitochondrial GPCR Signaling
Faculty Candidate Seminar: Giulio Agnetti, PhD, FAHA, assistant professor, Department of Medicine/Division of Cardiology; director, Center for Research on Cardiac Intermediate Filaments (CRCIF), Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
What Do Intermediate Filaments Really Do? A Lesson from the Heart
Dr. Dionna Williams, Johns Hopkins
June 14 (Wednesday)
Dr. Joseph Baker, The College of New Jersey
Biomolecules in Motion: Molecular Modeling and Simulation of Biomolecular Systems
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