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Department of Pharmacology & Physiology 2017 News Archive

December 2017

Grant for Dr. Osei-Owusu

Dr. Patrick Osei-Owusu was awarded an NIH R01 grant for his project “In Vivo Mechanisms of Integrated G Protein Signaling Regulation by RGS Proteins.”

October 2017

Discovery Day Winners

Congratulations to the following students who received honors for their posters at this year's Discovery Day:

  • Ayush Parikh: First Place, Outstanding Undergraduate Poster
    Mentor: Seena Ajit, PhD
  • Sneha Kamarajugadda: Honorable Mention, Outstanding Undergraduate Poster
    Mentor: Huijuan Hu, PhD
  • Lindsay Festa: First Place, Barry Waterhouse Outstanding Platform Presentation
    Mentor: Olimpia Meucci, MD, PhD

Dr. Oyer Wins STAT News Wunderkind Award

STAT — a Boston-based national publication focused on science and health news — has named Halley Oyer, PhD, one of the "brightest young minds in life science." Oyer is a College of Medicine postdoc working in the laboratory of Felix Kim, PhD. Read more.

Dr. Mathiasen Serves as NASA Panel Reviewer

Joanne Mathiasen, PhD, served as a reviewer on a NASA Space Radiation-CNS Degeneration panel on October 3. The NASA Human Exploration Research Opportunities (HERO) research call solicits proposals for ground-based research that will provide the basis for accurate risk quantification reflective of the astronaut population; establish the validity of permissible exposure limits; and investigate in-flight cognitive and behavioral central nervous system risks, and biomedical countermeasures for in-flight and late central nervous system decrements resulting from exposure to space radiation. Dr. Mathiasen is very honored to have been selected to serve on this panel.

September 2017

Dr. Osei-Owusu Approved as AHA Fellow

Congratulations to Patrick Osei-Owusu, PhD, whose nomination as a fellow of the American Heart Association (FAHA) was approved at the conclusion of the 2017 Council on Hypertension Scientific Session in San Francisco, California, on September 17, 2017.

Dr. Campbell Receives ACS Award

Congratulations to Paul Campbell, PhD, whose application, "Small molecule inhibition of fractalkine:CX3CR1 chemokine signaling in malignant pancreatic ductal cancer," has been selected as an awardee for the American Cancer Society Institutional Research Grant (ACS-IRG).

August 2017

Dr. Meucci Receives Funding

Congratulations to Olimpia Meucci, MD, PhD, on her successful application, "Determine whether stimulation of the chemokine/receptor axis CXCL12/CXCR4 can rescue dendritic spine deficits and neurocognitive dysfunction in animal models of schizophrenia," which has been funded through the Helen S. Vernik Schizophrenia Pilot Research Project Grant.

Dr. Singh Elected to Research Conference Leadership

We are excited to announce that Harpreet Singh, PhD, has been elected as vice chair of the Gordon Research Conference for 2019 and chair for 2021.

Dr. Ajit Receives NIH Grant

Seena Ajit, PhD, has been awarded an NIH R01 grant for her project entitled "Exosome-mediated signaling in neuropathic pain." Kudos and congratulations to Dr. Ajit!

July 2017

Coulter-Drexel Funding

Our congratulations are extended to the project team of Alessandro Fatatis, MD, PhD, and Olimpia Meucci, MD, PhD, who have received funding through the Coulter-Drexel Translational Research Partnership for their project entitled "New small molecule compounds for the therapy of metastatic breast cancer."

Master's Thesis Defense

Please join us in congratulating Erica Dalla, a master’s student in the Cancer Biology program, who completed her research with Olimpia Meucci, MD, PhD, chair, Department of Pharmacology & Physiology. On Monday, July 17, Erica successfully defended her thesis entitled “Investigating the Role of the Chemokine Receptor CX3CR1 in Metastatic Inflammatory Breast Cancer.”

Dr. Ponnalagu Receives American Heart Association Award

Congratulations to Devasena Ponnalagu, PhD, postdoctoral fellow in Dr. Harpreet Singh’s lab. Dr. Ponnalagu has received the American Heart Association AWRP Winter 2017 Postdoctoral Fellowship Award for her project entitled "Splice variant chloride intracellular channel (CLIC) 5B determines mitochondrial localization and function of CLIC5." This is a two-year award.

Faculty Promotion

Congratulations to Harpreet Singh, PhD for his promotion to associate professor. Dr. Singh has been with the Department since May 2013.

Dr. Ajit Receives Mary DeWitt Pettit Fellowship

Seena Ajit, PhD, is one of two recipients of the 2017 Mary DeWitt Pettit MD Fellowship. This $10,000 fellowship supports research or other special projects of junior female faculty members at Drexel University College of Medicine. It is intended to provide the recipient with the opportunity to acquire additional credentials necessary to advance in academic rank. Dr. Ajit's project is entitled "The Role of X-Linked Long Non-coding RNA in Chronic Pain Disorders with Female Predominance."

May 2017

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!

Recipients of the Graduate School of Biomedical Science and Professional Studies faculty awards

April 2017

Brody Fellowship

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

Class of 2019 Golden Apple nominees, and Michael White, PhD, receiving his Golden Apple Award
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.

Successful Thesis Defense

Congratulations to Bradley Nash, PhD, who successfully defended his PhD thesis, “Intracellular Iron Is Involved in Opioid-Induced Changes of the Ferritin Heavy Chain Protein in Cortical Neurons.”

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.

Olimpia Meucci receiving her Outstanding Service and Support Award from the Society of Neuroimmune Pharmacology (SNIP)
Peter Gaskill receiving his Outstanding Service and Support Award from the Society of Neuroimmune Pharmacology (SNIP)

Drs. Meucci and Gaskill receive recognition for their service and support of the 23rd SNIP Annual Conference.

March 2017

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:

February 2017

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).

January 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.

Successful Thesis Defense

Congratulations to Botros Shenoda, MD, PhD, who successfully defended his PhD thesis, “A Role for XIST in the Regulation of Inflammatory Response by Female Cells.”

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