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The Office of the Vice Dean for Research serves to support clinical and basic research activities, works with departments and interdisciplinary programs to develop and implement research, facilitates translational research and promotes mentoring to advance the training of physicians/scientists.

The vice dean for research steers and supports faculty research efforts, influencing opportunities for discovery by our medical and biomedical graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, medical residents and medical fellows. Noreen Robertson, DMD, associate vice dean for research, and Richard Huneke, DVM, MPH, executive director of University Laboratory Animal Resources, serve complementary missions within the Office of the Vice Dean to foster pre-clinical and clinical research within the institution. We are committed to bridging the superb clinical expertise and world-class research and educational capabilities of the medical school to enhance our progressive, high-quality medical education, scientific research and patient care.

The purpose of these web pages is to serve as a focal point for research at Drexel University College of Medicine. We are dedicated to providing research support to investigators. The links to the left will provide you with information and resources. Note that Drexel University's Office of Research provides certain administrative services for the Drexel University College of Medicine research program.

Q&A: Kenny Simansky, PhD, Vice Dean for Research, Professor, Department of Pharmacology & Physiology

Featured Student Research

Andrew Matamoros, Molecular and Cell Biology and Genetics Program Alum

Andrew Matamoros
Molecular & Cell Biology & Genetics Program Alum

"I first investigated traumatic brain injury (TBI) with Dr. Raghupathi, where I was studying neonatal TBI. Specifically, we were looking at the effects of progesterone treatment on neonates. Progesterone at the time was in phase III clinical trials for adult humans. That has recently ceased because it wasn't showing any benefit, unfortunately. Since there had been clinical trials for adults, we knew it would be likely that they'd give an adjusted dose to children." Read more about Andrew.

"My thesis work attempted to add labile microtubule mass to the regenerating axon by protecting the labile regions of the microtubules. This approach would mimic a state of axonal growth when labile microtubule mass is abundant. To accomplish this, I knocked-down a microtubule severing protein called fidgetin. You can think of fidgetin as gardening sheers that are used to prune plant growth; knocking-down fidgetin results in a notable boost in the microtubule mass of the axon via preservation of the labile mass from fidgetin’s severing activity. As a result, axons grow faster, even on unfavorable substrates associated with spinal cord injury (SCI) as well as in vivo following a nerve-crush injury." Read more about Andrew's research in The Hillock newsletter.

Kelly Whelan, Molecular and Cell Biology and Genetics Program Alum

Kelly Whelan
Molecular & Cell Biology & Genetics Program Alum

"I looked at the role of hypoxia and hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF) in mammary oncogenesis and morphogenesis. Mauricio had noticed that in the mammary gland, when you have tumors, they express markers of hypoxia, or low oxygen levels. That makes sense because, as a tumor grows and grows, it outstrips the existing resources, so then you might not have enough blood there, which creates a hypoxic area. The question became: 'Is that hypoxia a byproduct of that uncontrolled growth, or is it actually promoting tumor formation?'" Read more about Kelly.

Meet Our Faculty

Veronica J. Tom, PhD

Dr. Tom is an associate professor at the Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy and has been here for 14 years. She started her career in the department as a postdoctoral fellow in Houle lab. Dr. Tom now runs her own laboratory where she studies various aspects of axonal regeneration and plasticity after spinal cord injury. Although she initially aspired to become a Supreme Court Justice, it did not take her too long to fall in love with research. Read more.

Veronica J. Tom, PhD - Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy

Dennis DePace, PhD

"My number one favorite thing are my colleagues because we have a very good working relationship. The faculty and staff are excellent people who interact very well in a very positive way that helps us to be as good as we can. And of course, I love teaching. We have a very diverse student body that makes it interesting to meet students from different backgrounds and cultures. Those are two things that I value the most." Read more.

Dr. Dennis DePace - Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy

Research News & Announcements

Rewriting the Book on Alzheimer's Disease

"We're testing the hypothesis that Alzheimer's disease — which perhaps should be called Fischer's disease — is triggered at least in some cases by infection," says Ehrlich, a professor in the Departments of Microbiology & Immunology and Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery. Alumni Magazine (Summer 2018)

Baby's Breath

Vineet Bhandari, MD, has successfully triggered a process in which cells engulf their own insides in mice subjects, which could be used to prevent chronic lung disease in premature infants. Drexel EXEL Magazine (2018)

Bug Zapper

A team led by Akhil Vaidya, PhD, has discovered an unusual mechanism that allows two new antimalarial drugs to operate. Drexel EXEL Magazine (2018)

The Chemicals They Carry

Thousands of U.S. soldiers returned from the 1991 Persian Gulf War with a mysterious, incurable illness. To find answers, College of Medicine researchers are reprogramming veterans' cells. Drexel EXEL Magazine (2018)

A Cure for Cancer's Spread?

A drug compound in development at Drexel would give breast cancer patients the gift of precious time, by keeping metastatic cells from seeding deadly new tumors. Drexel EXEL Magazine (2018)

Final Destination

A new study from Drexel researchers sheds light on the parts of the brain that help make a neuron's journey from its birthplace to the brain—and everything that relies on it — possible. Drexel EXEL Magazine (2018)

Healing Sound Waves

A battery-powered applicator developed by Michael Weingarten, MD, and Peter Lewin, PhD — as small and light as a watch — is the first portable device to heal chronic wounds with low-frequency ultrasound. Drexel EXEL Magazine (2018)

Theory of Evolution

Joshua Chang Mell, PhD, and colleagues at the University of British Columbia have made progress in understanding how a common pathogen causes the chronic lung infections in cystic fibrosis patients. Drexel EXEL Magazine (2018)

Youth Movement

Thomas Trojian, MD, and colleagues believe youth coaches should teach young athletes better movement techniques that will reduce lower-body injuries. Drexel EXEL Magazine (2018)

Lab-Grown Neurons Improve Breathing In Rats After Spinal Cord Injury

Researchers from Drexel University College of Medicine and the University of Texas at Austin improved respiratory function in rodents with spinal cord injuries after successfully transplanting a special class of neural cells, called V2a interneurons. Their results, published this week in the Journal of Neurotrauma, indicate that these lab-grown cells have the potential to one day help paralyzed patients breathe without a ventilator. Science Magazine / Drexel News

Maya Rao, PhD, Publishes Article in Journal of Biological Chemistry

Molecular & Cell Biology & Genetics PhD Maya Rao recently published "Interaction between the AAA+ ATPase p97 and its cofactor ataxin3 in health and disease: Nucleotide-induced conformational changes regulate cofactor binding" in the November issue of the Journal of Biological Chemistry. (February 2018)