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Department of Pharmacology & Physiology News

December 2022

2022 Pharmacology and Physiology Department Report Card

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Year in Review

The 2022 department report card was distributed at our department retreat this month, but please feel free to pick up another copy from the main office.

Dean’s Graduate Student Travel Awards

Congratulations to Katelyn Reeb (A. Mortensen lab) and Neha Mohan (Qiang lab) for receiving Dean’s Graduate Student Travel Awards for the Fall 2022 award cycle. Katelyn and Neha secured two of the four travel awards this cycle, which were open to students in the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences.

Deepa Reddy Selected as Poster Competition Finalist

Congrats to Deepa Reddy (Ajit lab), who was selected as a finalist for the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) E-poster competition in the Brain and Behavior category. Deepa will participate in the final round of the competition in Washington D.C. in March 2023.

Katelyn Reeb Awarded PhRMA Fellowship

Well done Katelyn Reeb (A. Mortensen lab) for earning a research fellowship from the PhRMA Foundation. These competitive fellowships provide up to two years of stipend funding to PhD candidates in the pharmaceutical sciences.

Dr. Fatatis Named SKCC Associate Director for Basic Science

Alessandro Fatatis, MD, PhD, has been appointed as the associate director for basic research at the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center of Thomas Jefferson University. In this new role, Dr. Fatatis will coordinate basic research and promote collaborations across SKCC’s cancer research programs. Dr. Fatatis was previously co-leader of SKCC’s Translational and Cellular Oncology Research Program.

Pharmacology and Physiology Department Retreat

Pharmacology & Physiology Department Retreat

Thank you to everyone who attended the Pharmacology & Physiology Department Retreat and made the event a success! The retreat showcased the breadth of our department’s research and exceptional trainees, faculty, and staff who contribute to a culture that aims to “disrupt and innovate.” The retreat also featured our annual departmental awards ceremony and the return of the Chair’s awards, in addition to a few special retreat awards.

Retreat Awards:

  • Best Research Talks: Julia Farnan & Amber Jones
  • Best Elevator Talks: Katelyn Reeb & Chun-Ta Ho
  • Fastest Elevator Talk: Anna Zhang
  • Best Question: Gabriele Romano, PhD
  • Don’t Say the Word Game Champions: Clara Xu & Christina Besada

Departmental Awards:

  • Benjamin Weiss Scholar Award: Kathleen Bryant
  • Mary Hoffman Shaw Travel Awards: Xuan Luo, Rhea Temmermand & Deepa Reddy

Chair’s Awards:

  • Exemplary Student Citizen Award: Jonathan Snyder
  • Outstanding Service Award: Liz Kopen
  • Faculty Service Award: Zachary Klase, PhD

Recognition for scientific excellence:

  • Highest impact factor publication: Priscila Sato, PhD
  • Success in collaborative efforts: Peter Gaskill, PhD & Zachary Klase, PhD

November 2022

Society for Neuroscience Annual Meeting

Several trainees from the department presented their research at the Society for Neuroscience 2022 annual meeting in San Diego, CA.

Poster Presentations:

  • Bidirectional ERK1/2 modulation in dopaminergic neurons regulates DAT trafficking and function
    Christina Besada (O. Mortensen lab)
  • Allosteric dopamine transporter modulator inhibits cocaine-induced behaviors
    Clara Xu (O. Mortensen lab)
  • Positive allosteric modulation of glutamate transporter EAAT2 as a novel therapeutic approach for neurological disorders
    Katelyn Reeb (A. Mortensen lab)
  • Differential regulation of glutamate transporters following ischemia
    Simran Gill (A. Mortensen lab)
  • Development of glutamate transporter modulators as a novel, non-opioid treatment for neuropathic
    Rhea Temmermand (A. Mortensen lab)
  • Effect of the chemokine CXCL12 on dendritic spine maturation, turnover, and clustering
    Chunta Ho (Meucci lab)

Society for Neuroscience Annual Meeting

MAPS Meeting Awardees

Several of our trainees received poster awards at the Mid-Atlantic Pharmacology Society annual meeting. In the graduate students’ section, Julia Farnan (Jackson lab) won the 1st place prize and Deepa Reddy (Ajit lab) took home 2nd place. Congrats!

Thank you to our in-house MAPS representatives, Dr. Seena Ajit (Councilor) and Dr. Linda Console-Bram (Treasurer), for their efforts to help make the event a success. Also, thank you to Drexel’s Department of Pharmacology & Physiology for providing the meeting venue and financial support required to host the meeting.

MAPS Meeting Awardees


October 2022

Janssen Day 2022

Janssen Day 2022

The newest class of 4D fellows participated in the second annual Janssen Day event, held at Janssen’s Spring House campus. The event brought together Janssen senior leaders to discuss their work in the oncology therapeutic area, from discovery research to clinical studies.

Discovery Day 2022

The Department had a strong showing at Discovery Day 2022, held in person at the Philadelphia Convention Center. Our trainees were recognized for excellence in both platform and poster presentations, highlighting their efforts at the bench and in communicating their research.

Awardees from our department:

  • Jonathan Snyder (Sato lab) – 1st place, Barry Waterhouse Outstanding Platform Presentation
  • Christina Curran-Alfaro (Barker lab) – 2nd place, Outstanding Senior Graduate Student Poster
  • Jason Wickman (Ajit lab) – 3rd place, Outstanding Senior Graduate Student Poster
  • Breana Channer (Gaskill lab) – 3rd place, Outstanding Junior Graduate Student Poster

Platform presentations:

  • Macrophage derived small extracellular vesicles as immunomodulators in inflammatory pain
    Richa Pande (Ajit lab)
  • Islet GRK2 regulates hormone secretion and glycemic control by supporting metabolism and GPCR sensitivity
    Jonathan Snyder (Sato lab)

Poster presentations:

  • Immune regulation by small extracellular vesicles in pain attenuation
    Xuan Luo (Ajit lab)
  • The role of long non-coding RNA XIST in inflammation
    Katherine Quintero (Ajit lab)
  • Macrophage derived small extracellular vesicles as a therapeutic for postoperative pain and inflammation
    Deepa Reddy (Ajit lab)
  • Intrathecal injection of polarized macrophage exosomes reduces mechanical and thermal pain sensation in spinal cord injured rats
    Jason Wheeler (Ajit lab)
  • Skin resident memory T cell dysfunction in the tibia fracture model of complex regional pain syndrome
    Jason Wickman (Ajit lab)
  • Low-dose ethanol exposed mice exhibit sex-specific shifts in sensitivity to changes in magnitude of reward
    Christina Curran-Alfaro (Barker lab)
  • Effects of EcoHIV and antiretroviral treatment on AMPAR expression in mice
    Meghan Hemdal (Barker lab)
  • The impact of EcoHIV infection on cocaine-related behaviors
    Qiaowei Xie (Barker lab)
  • Absence or inactivation of androgen receptor de-represses IL-1β expression in prostate cancer cells
    Allison Toth (Fatatis lab)
  • Subsets of cancer cells expressing CX3CR1 are endowed with metastasis-initiating properties
    Jieyi Zhang (Fatatis lab)
  • Defining the role of liver macrophages in HIV/HBV coinfection and development of HCC
    Alexis Brantly (Gaskill lab)
  • Defining dopaminergic signaling mechanisms underlying myeloid inflammation in the context of HIV infection
    Breana Channer (Gaskill lab)
  • Generation and characterization of HIV stocks for assessing infection of primary human monocyte derived macrophages
    Teresa LuPone (Gaskill lab)
  • Modeling HIV infection of human iPSC-derived microglia in-vitro using high content screening
    Oluwatofunmi Oteju (Gaskill lab)
  • Dopamine increases Akt through D1-like receptor activation of PI3 kinase
    Dayna Robinson (Gaskill lab)
  • Exploiting pyroptosis in melanoma brain metastases
    Maria Cavallo (Hartsough lab)
  • Exploiting the selenoproteome in metastatic uveal melanoma
    Alyssa Sanders (Hartsough lab)
  • Astrocyte reactivity activates neural crest programming in melanoma brain metastases
    Julia Farnan (Jackson lab)
  • HIV-1 infection of monocyte derived macrophages alters miRNA expression
    Erick O'Brien (Klase lab)
  • Pharmacological CURE strategy via targeting the human transcription factor RUNX1 for latent HIV reactivation and immune stimulation
    Laura Merja (Klase lab)
  • Investigating epigenetic regulation of viral transcription in HIV infected monocyte derived macrophages
    Courtney Wallace (Klase lab)
  • Effect of the chemokine CXCL12 on dendritic spine dynamics: maturation, turnover, and clustering
    Chunta Ho (Meucci lab)
  • Positive allosteric modulation of glutamate transporter EAAT2 as a novel therapeutic approach for neuropsychiatric disorders
    Katelyn Reeb (A. Mortensen lab)
  • Development of glutamate transporter modulators as a novel, non-opioid treatment for neuropathic pain
    Rhea Temmermand (A. Mortensen lab)
  • Bidirectional ERK1/2 modulation in dopaminergic neurons regulates DAT trafficking and function
    Christina Besada (O. Mortensen lab)
  • Allosteric dopamine transporter modulator inhibits cocaine-induced behaviors
    Clara Xu (O. Mortensen lab)
  • Novel treatment strategies for HIV and cancer co-morbidity
    Lindsay Barger (Romano lab)
  • Exploring novel combinations of targeted therapies for NF1 mutant ovarian carcinoma
    Olivia El Naggar (Romano lab)
  • ERK-mediated phosphorylation of GRK2 leads to reduced pyruvate dehydrogenase activity and alters pyroptotic signaling
    Ruxu Zhai (Sato lab)

Faculty Attend Eureka Institute Translational Medicine Course

Dr. Andréia Mortensen and Dr. Gabriele Romano were selected to attend the Eureka Institute’s International Certificate Course in Translational Medicine. The course, which runs in late October, aims to prepare mid-career professionals for interdisciplinary work in translational medicine. This year, the course will be held in Siracusa, Italy.


September 2022

Maria Cavallo Earns Conference Travel Award

Maria Cavallo (Hartsough lab) was selected as a Travel Award recipient by the Society for Melanoma Research. This competitive award will support Maria’s attendance at the annual congress of the Society for Melanoma Research this November.

Dr. Ajit Receives New RF1 Grant from NINDS

Congratulations to Dr. Seena Ajit for receiving a new RF1 grant from the NIH National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. The grant will fund a new project as part of the NIH HEAL Initiative, titled: “Immune modulating therapies to treat complex regional pain syndrome.”

Drs. Mortensen and España Receive a New R21 Grant

Congratulations to Dr. Ole Mortensen and co-investigator Dr. Rodrigo España for receiving a new R21 award from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The award will fund a new, collaborative project titled: Selective real-time activation of ERK1/2 signaling in dopamine neurons.

Ms. Aurora Miller Joins the Department

Welcome to Ms. Aurora Miller, who joins the front office as executive assistant to the chair. Aurora brings experience from her previous roles in the education sector, most recently as a human resources specialist at Haverford College. Aurora’s office is in the newly renovated space on the 8th floor, suite 8102-8118.

Dr. Sato Nominated Chair of Diversity & Inclusive Excellence Committee

Dr. Priscila Sato was nominated to serve as the chair of the College of Medicine’s Committee for Diversity & Inclusive Excellence. The committee supports a mission for excellence in education, clinical practice and research innovation by promoting diversity, equity and inclusion. Congrats, Priscila!

Xuan Luo Presents Invited Seminar

Xuan Luo, a PhD candidate in the Ajit Lab, was invited to give a webinar presentation on her research by Canopy Biosciences. Xuan discussed how she uses ChipCytometry technology in a talk titled "Investigating Immune Regulation by Small Extracellular Vesicles to Attenuate Chronic Pain Using High-Plex Spatial Imaging."

Drexel Will Host Annual MAPS Meeting

This year’s Mid Atlantic Pharmacology Society (MAPS) meeting will be hosted at Drexel! The meeting is scheduled for Friday, November 4, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m, at New College Building in Center City. This year’s theme is dopamine pharmacology, and talks will be available both in person and online. The meeting will also feature an in-person poster competition, and the deadline to submit an abstract is Friday, October 14. Please see the MAPS web page for additional information.

Several of our faculty helped organize this year’s meeting, including Dr. Seena Ajit (MAPS councilor) and Dr. Linda Console-Bram (MAPS treasurer).

Dr. Gaskill and Dr. Klase Obtain Collaborative R01 Award

Congratulations to Dr. Peter Gaskill and Dr. Zachary Klase for receiving a new R01 award from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The award will fund a collaborative project that leverages the strengths of both labs, titled, "Benzodiazepine mediated mechanisms of transcriptional semi-quiescence in discrete myeloid populations."


August 2022

Dr. Romano Receives Extramural Grant

Congratulations to Dr. Gabriele Romano for being selected to receive an Institutional Research Grant from the American Cancer Society. This grant provides seed funding that will support Dr. Romano’s new project, "Inhibition of CCR5/CCL5 recruitment axis as an adjuvant strategy to treat melanoma in people living with HIV." This is Dr. Romano’s first extramural support since he started his independent career as PI in the department less than a year ago.

Concluding the Inaugural Year of the Janssen-Drexel 4D Fellowship

The inaugural class of Janssen-Drexel 4D fellows successfully completed their first year in Drexel graduate programs, capping off a great start to their educational journey and to the entire 4D program. The occasion was marked by a 4D Fellowship event at Janssen’s Spring House facility, where the inaugural fellows presented their research progress and the incoming fellows introduced themselves to Janssen scientists. Read more.

Dr. Ajit and Dr. Fatatis Both Secure New R01 Awards

Congratulations to Dr. Seena Ajit and Dr. Alessandro Fatatis for each receiving a new R01 award! Dr. Ajit’s R01 from NINDS will support her project “Small extracellular vesicles mediated signaling and pain,” and Dr. Fatatis’ R01 from NCI will support his project “Interleukin-1beta and AR-negative tumor cells in metastatic castrate-resistant prostate cancer.”

Dr. Sato Publishes High-Profile Research

Dr. Priscila Sato, along with her trainee Ruxu Zhai and other collaborators published a high-profile study titled “Loss of Nuclear Envelope Integrity and Increased Oxidant Production Cause DNA Damage in Adult Hearts Deficient in PKP2: A Molecular Substrate of ARVC.” The article is freely available in the journal Circulation, one of the top journals for cardiovascular systems research.

Dr. Barker Awarded DP2 Supplement

Congrats to Dr. Jacqui Barker for receiving a new DP2 supplement from NIH-NIDA! The supplement will support Dr. Barker’s postdoctoral fellow, Dr. Mark Namba, as he works on a project titled: Investigating the effects of cocaine exposure and abstinence in a model of preclinical HIV infection.

Dr. White Named Associate Editor for Journal

Dr. Michael White was named an Associate Editor for Frontiers in Physiology in the Membrane Physiology & Membrane Biophysics section. This section publishes work on all functional and structural aspects of biological membranes, ranging from the function of membrane proteins at atomic resolution to changes in membrane function in human diseases.


July 2022

Dr. Sato Elected Fellow of the American Heart Association

Congratulations to Dr. Priscila Sato for being elected as a Fellow of the American Heart Association (FAHA)! The FAHA credentials recognize scientific and professional accomplishments, volunteer leadership, and service by one of the world’s most eminent organizations of cardiovascular and stroke professionals.


June 2022

Dr. Sato Wins New Investigator Award

Congratulations to Dr. Priscila Sato, who received a New Investigator Award from Drexel University College of Medicine! This award recognizes a promising and outstanding evolving investigator in the early stages of their career.

Dr. Ross Receives Pilot Funding

Dr. Jennifer Ross, Research Assistant Professor in the Van Bockstaele lab, received pilot funding from the Drexel University Medical Cannabis Research Center! The award funds will support Dr. Ross’ project: Clinical efficacy of medicinal marijuana for stress-related disorders. Drexel's Medical Cannabis Research Center funds pilot research studies proposed by Drexel faculty in areas of research where the therapeutic use of medical cannabis has produced promising patient health outcomes, including HIV, chronic pain, and opioid dependence as well as some broader domains.

Julia Farnan Earns Dean’s Travel Award

Congrats to Julia Farnan, PhD student in the Jackson lab, for earning a Dean’s Travel Award from the Graduate School. The award aims to partially defray the cost of attending a scientific meeting at which a graduate student presents original research.


May 2022

Pharmacology and Physiology 2022 Graduates

This year, the department had two new graduates from our graduate programs. Dr. Zhucheng Lin, a student in the Ajit lab, graduated from the Pharmacology & Physiology PhD program. Zhucheng’s PhD thesis was titled “The role of serum-derived small extracellular vesicles in pain.” Ms. Sam Stine, a student in the Barker lab, graduated from the Drug Discovery & Development MS program. Sam’s MS thesis was titled “Facilitated binge-like eating following chronic ethanol exposure in females.” Additionally, Ms. Geena John, a Pharmacology & Physiology MS student, will transfer to our PhD program with advanced standing starting this fall. Congratulations to our graduates!

Pharmacology Students Earn Dean’s Fellowships

This year, the department had two trainees that earned Dean’s Fellowships for Excellence in Collaborative or Themed Research from the Graduate School. These fellowships support PhD-track students with innovative research projects to further develop their research experience. Xiaonan Liu, a trainee in the Toyooka lab, earned a fellowship to support her project “Myo1c-Adnp regulates the transportation of actin bundling protein Actn4 to the cell membrane during neurite initiation in neurons.” Jason Wickman, a trainee in the Ajit Lab, also earned a fellowship to support his project “Immune modulating therapies to target resident memory T-cells in complex regional pain syndrome.” Congrats Nan and Jason!

A. Mortensen Lab Trainees Earn Awards

Congratulations to Rhea Temmermand, who was awarded a grant from the Art Zwerling Memorial Fund of the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists Foundation! The grant will support Rhea’s project “Development of glutamate transporter modulators as a novel, non-opioid treatment for chronic pain.” Further congrats to Simran Gill, who received a Chapter Recognition Student Travel Award from the Philadelphia chapter of the Association for Women in Science! Simran will use the award funds to attend the Society for Neuroscience 2022 annual meeting in San Diego, CA.

Dr. Meucci’s MERIT Award Renewed for a Second Term

Dr. Olimpia Meucci received a new five-year grant as an extension of her current R37 MERIT (method to extend research in time) award from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The extension will support the last phase (2023-2028) of her longtime project “Role of chemokines in neuronal function and survival” that has been continuously funded by NIDA since 2001.

Dr. Barker Wins Drexel Provost Award

Congratulations to Dr. Jacqueline Barker, who was honored with a Provost Award for Early Career Outstanding Scholarly Productivity. The Provost Award recognizes faculty who have demonstrated unusual excellence in their scholarly field and who are considered emerging leaders in these fields.

Dr. White Honored with Golden Apple Award

Congratulations to Dr. Michael White, who received a Golden Apple award for outstanding service to the medical student body at the 27th annual Golden Apple awards ceremony! Dr. White was also nominated for four additional Golden Apple awards for excellence in teaching by the medical school classes of 2024 and 2025.

Graduate School Faculty Awards

Congratulations to our faculty members that were honored at Drexel’s Graduate School Faculty Awards ceremony! In the Interdisciplinary and Career Oriented Programs section, Dr. Paul McGonigle received the Best Professor Award and Dr. Joanne Mathiasen received the Best Mentor Award. In the Biomedical Science Programs section, Dr. Jacqueline Barker received the Best Advisor/Mentor Award and was also recognized with the Best Student Advocate Award.

Congratulations to our faculty members that were honored at Drexel’s Graduate School Faculty Awards ceremony!

Dr. Ajit Gives Invited Seminar

Dr. Seena Ajit gave an invited seminar as part of the MD Anderson Pain Research Consortium Seminar Series at MD Anderson Cancer Center at the University of Texas. Her talk was titled “The role of mouse serum-derived small extracellular vesicles in pain.”


April 2022

Dr. Sato Receives an NIH R01 Grant

Congratulations to Dr. Priscila Sato for securing her first R01 grant from the NIH National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. The new and well-deserved grant will support Dr. Sato’s exciting research project “Dysregulation of cardiac signaling in disease and stress.” Additionally, Dr. Sato has become a member of the Early Career Committee of the Council on Basic Cardiovascular Sciences (BCVS) within the American Heart Association.

Dr. Fatatis Receives Pilot Funding

Dr. Alessandro Fatatis was awarded new funding from the Rolling Pilot Award Program of the Philadelphia Prostate Cancer Biome Project. The funds will support Dr. Fatatis’ project “Direct and combinatorial anti-tumor effects of CX3CR1 antagonists in prostate cancer.”

Dr. Console-Bram Joins the Department

Welcome to Dr. Linda Console-Bram, who joins the Department of Pharmacology & Physiology this month as a full-time tenure track faculty at the West Reading COM campus. In addition to her extensive experience in teaching pharmacology to medical and graduate students, Dr. Console-Bram has a long history as researcher in the field of cannabinoids and substance use research.

Barker Lab Trainees Earn Travel Awards

Several trainees from Dr. Barker’s lab received NIMH-funded awards from the Research Society on Alcoholism to attend the society’s annual meeting. Dr. Mitch Nothem received the RSA Junior Investigator Meeting Award for the 2022 RSA Scientific meeting, while Katie Bryant and Christina Curran-Alfaro each received RSA Student Merit Awards.

Rhea Temmermand Recognized in Poster Competition

Congratulations to Rhea Temmermand, a PhD student in Dr. Andréia Mortensen’s lab, who received 3rd place in the in-person research poster competition of the Drexel Emerging Graduate Scholars Conference. Rhea’s award-winning poster was titled “Development of Glutamate Transporter Modulators as a Novel, Non-Opioid Treatment for Neuropathic Pain.”

Pharmacology Trainees Present at the ASPET/Experimental Biology Meeting

Our department was well represented at the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics (ASPET) annual meeting, which was held in conjunction with Experimental Biology 2022 in Philadelphia. Trainees from multiple labs presented their research and participated in the meeting’s poster competition.

Awardees from our department:

  • Jason Wickman – 1st place in the graduate students and post baccalaureate students’ group in the neuropharmacology division

Poster presentations:

  • Small Extracellular Vesicles Induced Gene Expression Changes in Microglia
    Xuan Luo (Ajit lab)
  • Immune Cell Regulation by Macrophage Derived Small Extracellular Vesicles in Pain
    Richa Pande (Ajit lab)
  • miR-106b-25 Dysregulation in Complex Regional Pain Syndrome Contributes to T Cell Dysfunction
    Jason Wickman (Ajit lab)
  • MKP3 Overexpression and ERK1/2 Phosphorylation in Dopaminergic Neurons Regulate DAT Trafficking and Function
    Christina Besada (O. Mortensen lab)
  • Allosteric Dopamine Transporter Modulator Inhibits Cocaine-Induced Behavior
    Yibin Xu (O. Mortensen lab)
  • The Regulation of Glial Glutamate Transporters After In-Vitro Ischemic Stroke
    Simran Gill (A. Mortensen lab)
  • Modulation of Glutamate Transporters as a Potential Therapeutic Intervention for Neurological Disorders
    Katelyn Reeb (A. Mortensen lab)
  • A History of Low Dose Ethanol Modulates Ventral Hippocampus Activity During Motivated Behavior
    Kathleen Bryant (Barker lab)
  • Mice Exposed to Chronic Low-Dose Ethanol Exhibit Reduced Sensitivity to Changes in Magnitude of Reward
    Christina Curran-Alfaro (Barker lab)
  • The Effect of Spared Nerve Injury on Ethanol Reward Seeking and Reinstatement
    Mitch Nothem (Barker lab)
  • The Impact of HIV Infection in Cocaine Seeking Behaviors
    Qiaowei Xie (Barker lab)
  • Defining Dopamine-Mediated Changes in NLRP1, NLRC5, NLRC4, and AIM2 Inflammasomes in Human Myeloid Cells
    Joanna Canagarajah (Gaskill lab)
  • Dopamine May Exacerbate Neuroinflammation in the Context of HIV by Driving Inflammatory Phenotypes in Macrophages
    Breana Channer (Gaskill lab)
  • Dopamine-Driven Increase in IL-1β in Myeloid Cells is Mediated by Differential Dopamine Receptor Expression and Exacerbated by HIV
    Stephanie Matt (Gaskill lab)
Anna Zhang Presents at the AACR Annual Meeting

Anna Zhang Presents at the AACR Annual Meeting

Anna Zhang, a PhD student in Dr. Alessandro Fatatis’ lab, presented her work in a talk at the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) annual meeting in New Orleans, La. Anna presented in the molecular principles of cancer metastasis symposium. Her presentation was titled “Subsets of cancer cells expressing CX3CR1 are endowed with metastasis-initiating properties and resistance to chemotherapy.” Well done, Anna!

Welcome Sebastian S. Sanz

Congratulations to Dr. Antonio Sanz-Clemente and family for the successful arrival of Sebastian S. Sanz!


March 2022

Dr. Fatatis Receives Funding from the SKCC Multi-PI Grant Program

Congratulations to Dr. Alessandro Fatatis and co-PI Dr. Gino Cingolani of Thomas Jefferson University for receiving new funding from the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center (SKCC) Consortium Multi-PI Collaborative Grant Program. The funds will support Drs. Fatatis and Cingolani’s project: Atomic structure of FX-68 bound to CX3CR1 reconstituted in lipid nanodiscs.


February 2022

Faculty Receive CURE Grants

Drs. Ole Mortensen and Zachary Klase were each awarded funding from the Pennsylvania CURE grant program. Dr. Mortensen’s award will support his project “Real-time Ex Vivo Modulation of ERK1/2 Signaling in Dopamine Neurotransmission” in collaboration with Dr. Rodrigo España. Dr. Klase’s award will support his project “Development of Novel HIV-1 Tat Inhibitors: From Latency to Cure” in collaboration with Drs. Rachel Van Duyne, Michael Nonnemacher and Simon Cocklin.

Xuan Luo Selected as AAAS Poster Competition Finalist

Xuan Luo, a PhD student in the Ajit Lab, was selected as a finalist for the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s (AAAS) e-poster competition. Xuan was one of three finalists selected from the Graduate Biochemistry and Molecular Biology poster group that participated in a 30-minute discussion about their research. Congrats Xuan!

Barker Lab Trainees Receive Travel Awards

Congrats to Christina Curran-Alfaro and Qiaowei Xie, both members of the Barker Lab, for receiving travel awards to attend the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics (ASPET) annual meeting. This year, ASPET’s annual meeting will be held in conjunction with the Experimental Biology 2022 conference from April 2–5.


January 2022

Drs. Mathiasen and McGonigle Receive Thank a Teacher Notes

Dr. Joanne Mathiasen and Dr. Paul McGonigle both received thank you notes from students that participated in Drexel’s Thank a Teacher Program. The program provides an opportunity for Drexel students to publicly say “thank you” to teachers who have made the true Drexel difference to them. For more information, please visit Drexel’s Teaching and Learning Center website.

Richa Pande Receives Dean’s Fellowship

Congratulations to Richa Pande, a PhD student in Dr. Seena Ajit’s lab, for receiving the Spring 2022 Dean's Fellowship for Excellence in Collaborative or Themed Research. The fellowship provides Richa with financial support for six months in the form of a scholarship, stipend and $1500 for supplies and/or attendance at virtual conferences.

Carol Imbesi Promoted to Grant and Research Coordinator

Carol Imbesi, a long-standing member of our front office team, has been promoted to a new position as a grant and research coordinator. In this senior position, Carol will continue to support the chair and faculty with a variety of administrative tasks related to the preparation and processing of grant applications and reports, and work with institutional and external offices to facilitate grant submissions and the overall departmental research enterprise.

Louise Greenberg, PhD

In Memory of Louise Greenberg, PhD

Louise Greenberg, PhD, a former faculty member in the Department of Pharmacology of Medical College of Pennsylvania (later to become Drexel University College of Medicine) passed away on January 12, 2022. Dr. Greenberg worked in the laboratory of Benjamin Weiss, PhD, where she made major contributions to understanding how aging regulates adrenergic receptor responsiveness in the brain, and how these molecular changes can reduce adaptation to stress in aged individuals. In addition to her research, Dr. Greenberg held other positions in the pharmaceutical and executive search industries and served on the Alumni Council and the Board of Trustees of her alma mater, Dickinson College. Outside of her professional duties, Dr. Greenberg was a passionate choral singer who participated in and founded several choral groups in the Philadelphia area and southeast Florida.

Dr. Greenberg was held in high praise, as her former mentor Dr. Weiss noted that “Louise not only was an outstanding scientist, she also was, in every way, an exceptional individual, having the highest character and integrity.”

Please click here to view Dr. Greenberg’s obituary.


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Elements of a laboratory experiment.