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Department of Pharmacology & Physiology 2016 News Archive

December 2016

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.

November 2016

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.

October 2016

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."

Drs. Harpreet Singh and Patrick Osei-Owusu with their certificates

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.

September 2016

Mary Hoffman Shaw

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,, 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

Welcome New Students!

The department is pleased to welcome the following students to our programs in 2016:

Pharmacology & Physiology PhD Program
Yixiao Mei
Emily Nickoloff
Gordon Hill (MD/PhD Program)
Catherine Theilen (MD/PhD Program)

Pharmacology & Physiology MS Program
Maggie Johnson
Xiaonan Liu

Drug Discovery & Development MS Program
Mariam Archer
Tyler Bernadyn
Guangyou Lu
Ziyan Ma
Qianman Peng

August 2016

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."

July 2016

Faculty Promotions

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.

June 2016

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

May 2016

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."

Department Retreat Poster

(click to enlarge)

Department Retreat

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

Attendees of the 2016 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.

April 2016

8th Annual Julius Axelrod Symposium

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 Award winners Joel Horwitz and Michael White

Golden Apple Awards

Congratulations to the following members of our teaching faculty who were recipients of 2016 Golden Apple Awards:

March 2016

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)

February 2016

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.

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Elements of a laboratory experiment.