Faculty Database:
[ PhD Program: Pharmacology Keyword: ]

Filter faculty by:
See All
NameEmailPhd ProgramResearch InterestsPublications
Besheer, Joyce email , , publications

Research in my lab examines the neurobiological mechanisms underlying alcoholism and addiction. At present studies are focused on the interaction between stress-related systems and sensitivity to alcohol, in order to better understand the mechanisms that underlie increased alcohol drinking during stressful episodes. We use an array of behavioral (e.g., operant self-administration, drug discrimination) and behavioral pharmacology techniques, including targeted brain regional drug injections, to functionally evaluate the role of specific molecular targets. In parallel to the behavioral studies, we use immunohistochemistry and Western blot techniques to examine alterations in the expression of various molecular targets following stress exposure. We are also applying these techniques to examine and integrate the study of depression that emerges following stress hormone exposure.

Boettiger, Charlotte email , , , , publications

My lab uses a cognitive neuroscience approach to understand the neurobiology of drug addiction in humans. The tools we use include fMRI, cognitive testing, physiological monitoring, pharmacology, and genetic testing. We specifically seek to determine 1) how the brain learns new stimulus-response associations and replaces learned associations, 2) the neurobiological mechanisms underlying the tendency to select immediate over delayed rewards, and 3) the neural bases of addiction-related attentional bias.

Bowers, Albert A email , , , , publications

Research in the Bowers lab focuses on investigation of structure activity relationships and mechanisms of action of natural product-derived small molecule therapeutics.  We employ a variety of methods to build and modify compounds of interest, including manipulation of natural product biosynthesis, chemical synthesis, and semi-synthesis.  One major area of research in the lab is the rationale engineering of biosynthetic pathways to make bacterial drug factories.  Compounds targeting transcriptional regulation of cancer as well as multi-drug resistant venereal infections are currently under investigation in the lab.

Breese, George email , , , , , publications

This multidisciplinary laboratory has 6 interests: 1) Defining regionally specific adaptations responsible for functions altered by chronic ethanol;  2) Characterizing regional CNS biochemical changes induced by stress and CRF after chronic ethanol;  3) Defining the role of central cytokines in behaviors induced by stress; 4) Exploring how a benzodiazepine (BZD) agonist shares actions with a BZD antagonist;  5) Defining TRH receptor subtype(s) responsible for its anti-anxiety and analeptic actions;  and  6) Defining the action of galanin on ethanol withdrawal-induced anxiety.  To undertake our interests, behavioral, anatomical, pharmacological, electrophysiological, biochemical, and molecular biological approaches are used.

Brouwer, Kim email , , , publications

Research in the Brouwer laboratory is focused on: (1) hepatic transport of xenobiotics, including mechanisms of uptake, translocation, and biliary excretion; (2) development/refinement of in vitro model systems to predict in vivo hepatobiliary disposition, drug interactions, and hepatotoxicity; (3) influence of disease (e.g., NASH, kidney disease) on hepatobiliary drug disposition; and (4) pharmacokinetics.

Calabrese, J. Mauro email , , , , , , , , , publications

Our lab is trying to understand the mechanisms by which long noncoding RNAs orchestrate the epigenetic control of gene expression. Relevant examples of this type of gene regulation occur in the case of X-chromosome inactivation and autosomal imprinting. We specialize in genomics, but rely a combination of techniques —  including genetics, proteomics, and molecular, cell and computational biology — to study these processes in both mouse and human stem and somatic cell systems.

Carelli, Regina M. email , , , , publications

Research in the Carelli laboratory is in the area of behavioral neuroscience.  Our studies focus on the neurobiological basis of motivated behaviors, including drug addiction. Electrophysiology and electrochemistry procedures are used during behavior to examine the role of the brain ‘reward’ circuit in natural (e.g., food) versus drug (e.g., cocaine) reward.   Studies incorporate classical and operant conditioning procedures to study the role of the nucleus accumbens (and dopamine) and associated brain regions in learning and memory, as they relate to motivated behaviors.

Crews, Fulton email , , , , , publications

Research in the laboratory focuses on mechanisms of neurodegeneration and regeneration, particularly stem cells in brain.

DeSimone, Joseph M. email , , , , publications

The direct fabrication and harvesting of monodisperse, shape-specific nano-biomaterials are presently being designed to reach new understandings and therapies in cancer prevention, diagnosis and treatment.  Students interested in a rotation in the DeSimone group should not contact Dr. DeSimone directly.  Instead please contact Chris Luft at jluft@email.unc.edu.

Dohlman, Henrik email , , , , , , publications

We use an integrated approach (genomics, proteomics, computational biology) to study the molecular mechanisms of hormone and drug desensitization. Our current focus is on RGS proteins (regulators of G protein signaling) and post-translational modifications including ubiquitination and phosphorylation.

Earp, H. Shelton email , , , publications

Our lab is interested in how signals from membrane receptors are transduced to the nucleus altering gene expression, cell shape, proliferation and differentiation. We are particularly interested in tyrosine-specific protein kinases in breast and prostate cancer, as well as lymphoma/leukemia. Particular focus of the lab include the roles of :1) the EGF receptor family and related molecules e.g. HER4/ErbB4 in growth inhibition and differentiation, 2) the intracellular tyrosine kinase Ack which tyrosine phosphorylates the androgen receptor in androgen-independent prostate cancer and 3) a receptor tyrosine kinase that we cloned, Mer, that is expressed ectopically in childhood leukemias conferring a chemoresistant signal.  Mer also function in tumor-associated macrophages in a manner that appears to enhance tumor growth and immune system evasion.

Elston, Timothy email , , , , publications

The Elston lab is interested in understanding the dynamics of complex biological systems, and developing reliable mathematical models that capture the essential components of these systems. The projects in the lab encompass a wide variety of biological phenomena including signaling through MAPK pathways, noise in gene regulatory networks, airway surface volume regulation, and understanding energy transduction in motor proteins. A major focus of our research is understanding the role of molecular level noise in cellular and molecular processes. We have developed the software tool BioNetS to accurately and efficiently simulate stochastic models of biochemical networks

Farraj, Aimen K email , , , , publications

Air pollution exposure is associated with increased hospital visits and mortality, and is a major area of research for the United States Environmental Protection Agency.  The primary research interest of my laboratory is the examination of the effects and mechanisms of air pollutants in the environment on normal cardiopulmonary function (cardiac toxicology), particularly in models of cardiovascular disease, using state-of-the-art targeted and high throughput methods. Research findings are often used to inform environmental public health and contribute to the refinement of the US EPA’s National Ambient Air Quality Standards for specific air pollutants set to limit their health impact.

Graves, Lee M. email , , , , publications

Our lab is studying the role of mitogen and stress-activated protein kinases to regulate key aspects of cell metabolism. We are also studying signalling by tyrosine kinases in response to toxicological agents or cell stress.

Harden, Kendall email , , , , , publications

We focus on mechanistic/structural aspects of regulatory proteins (heterotrimeric and Ras family GTPases, RGS proteins, and PLC isozymes) involved in inositol lipid signaling, and on G protein-coupled receptors for extracellular nucleotides.

Harry, G. Jean email , , , publications

The Neurotoxicology Group examines the role of microglia interactions with neurons and the associated immune-mediated responses in brain development and aging as they relate to the initiation of brain damage, the progression of cell death, and subsequent repair/regenerative capabilities.  We have an interest in the neuroimmune response with regards to neurodegenerative diseases such as, Alzheimer’s disease.

Herman, Melissa email , , , , publications

My research interests involve the structure of inhibitory neuronal networks and how these networks change to produce adverse behavioral outcomes. My main interest is how the inhibitory neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) regulates neuronal networks via both synaptic and extrasynaptic forms of inhibition and how alterations in inhibitory networks contribute to clinical conditions such as alcohol use disorder, nicotine, addiction, or stress. My work has focused primarily on three brain regions: the nucleus tractus solitaries (NTS), central and basolateral amygdala, and ventral tegmental area. In each of these areas I have identified local inhibitory networks that control overall excitability and that are dysregulated by exposure to acute and or chronic exposure to alcohol or nicotine.

Hodge, Clyde email , , , , , publications

The primary goal of our research is to elucidate the neurobiological systems that mediate the behavioral effects of alcohol and drugs of abuse.

Johns, Josephine email , , , , publications

Effects of drugs of abuse on maternal behavior and aggression and the effects of prenatal exposure to drugs on offspring development and behavior.  Approaches range from molecular to behavioral as our work is basic science with a clinically applicable focus.

Jones, Alan email , , , , , , , publications

The Jones lab is interested in heterotrimeric G protein-coupled signaling and uses genetic model systems to dissect signaling networks.  The G-protein complex serves as the nexus between cell surface receptors and various downstream enzymes that ultimately alter cell behavior. Metazoans have a hopelessly complex repertoire of G-protein complexes and cell surface receptors so we turned to the reference plant, Arabidopsis thaliana, and the yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, as our models because these two organisms have only two potential G protein complexes and few cell surface receptors.  Their simplicity and the ability to genetically manipulate genes in these organisms make them powerful tools.  We use a variety of cell biology approaches, sophisticated imaging techniques, 3-D protein structure analyses, forward and reverse genetic approaches, and biochemistries.

Kash, Thomas email , , , , , , publications

Emotional behavior is regulated by a host of chemicals, including neurotransmitters and neuromodulators, acting on specific circuits within the brain. There is strong evidence for the existence of both endogenous stress and anti-stress systems. Chronic exposure to drugs of abuse and stress are hypothesized to modulate the relative balance of activity of these systems within key circuitry in the brain leading to dysregulated emotional behavior. One of the primary focuses of the Kash lab is to understand how chronic drugs of abuse and stress alter neuronal function, focusing on these stress and anti-stress systems in brain circuitry important for anxiety-like behavior. In particular, we are interested in defining alterations in synaptic function, modulation and plasticity using a combination of whole-cell patch-clamp physiology, biochemistry and mouse models.  Current projects are focused on the role of a unique population of dopamine neurons in alcoholism and anxiety.

Maixner, William email , , , publications

Dr. Maixner’s research program focuses on identifying the pathophysiological processes that underlie pain perception, persistent pain conditions, and related disorders. His current research focuses on genetic, environmental, biological, and psychological risk factors that contribute to the onset and maintenance of chronic pain conditions. A long term goal of his program is to translate new discoveries into clinical practices that improve the ability to diagnose and treat patients experiencing chronic pain.

McElligott, Zoe email , , , publications

Research in the McElligott lab focuses on the circuits and plasticity that underlie the development and manifestation of psychiatric illness, specifically disorders on the affective spectrum including alcohol use disorders, drug abuse and anxiety disorders. The lab has expertise in studying neurotransmission from the level of signaling in individual cells through behavior utilizing a variety of techniques including: whole-cell electrophysiology, in vivo and ex vivo fast-scan cyclic voltammetry (FSCV), circuit manipulations (optogenetics, chemogenetics, caspase ablation), and behavioral assays.  There are several ongoing projects in the lab. One area we are focused on explores the role of neurons in the central nucleus of the amygdala (CeA) that express the neuropeptide neurotensin and the role these neurons play in alcohol related phenotypes. Additionally we are interested in exploring how norepinephrine modulates neurotransmission within the brain and how the norepinephrine system itself is modulated in models of substance abuse and post-traumatic stress. Beyond these studies, we are actively engaged in several other collaborative projects with other labs at UNC, as well as around the world.

Meeker, Rick email , , , , publications

Dr. Meeker’s research is focused on the mechanisms of HIV neuropathogenesis and the development of therapeutic strategies for the treatment of neuroinflammation. Inflammatory changes within the brain caused by the viral infection initiate a toxic cascade that disrupts normal neural function and can eventually lead to neuronal death. To explore the mechanisms responsible for this damage, we investigate changes in calcium homeostasis, glutamate receptor function and inflammatory responses in primary neuronal, microglial and macrophage cultures. New therapeutic approaches targeted to signal transduction pathways and calcium regulation that protect the neurons and reduce inflammation are under investigation.

Meissner, Gerhard email , , , , publications

The goal of the laboratory’s research is to define the structure and function of an intracellular Ca2+ release channel in skeletal and cardiac muscle, using molecular biological and electrophysiological methods and by creating mutant mice.

Miller, C. Ryan email , , , , , , , , , , publications

My laboratory studies diffuse gliomas, devastating primary tumors of the central nervous system for which few effective drugs are currently available.  We utilize genetically engineered mice, cell culture, and human tumor model systems to explore the molecular pathogenesis of gliomas.  We utilize animal model systems to develop drugs and diagnostic markers for their individualized therapy.  Rotating students gain experience with multiple techniques, including cell culture, molecular biology, genomics, genetic lineage tracing, fluorescence microscopy, and digital image analysis.

Morrow, Leslie email , , , , , , publications

Function, expression and trafficking GABA-A receptors in the CNS; effects of chronic ethanol exposure that leads to ethanol tolerance and dependence; role of endogenous neurosteroids on ethanol action and ethanol-induced adaptations. Role of neuroactive steroids in neuropsychiatric disease, including addiction, depressive disorders, anxiety disorders, inflammatory disorders.

Narotsky, Michael email , , publications

My research interests include the endocrinology of pregnancy and parturition; reproductive and developmental toxicity testing; mixtures toxicology; structure-activity relationships; axial skeletal development; and strain differences in toxic responses.

Nicholas, Robert A. email , , , , , , publications

My laboratory has two main interests: 1) Regulation of P2Y receptor signaling and trafficking in epithelial cells and platelets. Our laboratory investigates the cellular and molecular mechanisms by which P2Y receptors are differentially targeted to distinct membrane surfaces of polarized epithelial cells and the regulation of P2Y receptor signaling during ADP-promoted platelet aggregation. 2) Antibiotic resistance mechanisms. We investigate the mechanisms of antibiotic resistance in the pathogenic bacterium, Neisseria gonorrhoeae. Our laboratory investigates how acquisition of mutant alleles of existing genes confers resistance to penicillin and cephalosporins. We also study the biosynthesis of the gonococcal Type IV pilus and its contribution to antibiotic resistance.

Parise, Leslie email , , , , , , , , publications

The overall goal of our laboratory is to understand the molecular interface between cell signaling and adhesion receptors in blood diseases and cancer in order to develop novel therapeutic targets and approaches. One area of study is platelets because they become activated by cellular signals and adhere to each other and the blood vessel wall via specific adhesion receptors. These events can block blood flow, causing heart attacks and stroke, the leading causes of death in the US. Another area of research is sickle cell disease, since red blood cells in these patients are abnormally adhesive and also cause blood vessel blockages. A third area is cancer since cancer cells use similar cellular signals and adhesion receptors in tumorigenesis and metastasis. Our work involves a wide array  of technologies that include molecular, structural and cellular approaches as well as clinical/translational studies with human patients.

Reissner, Kathryn email , , , , publications

Research in our lab is focused on understanding how cocaine abuse affects glial cell physiology, in particular neuron-astrocyte communication.  We utilize the rat cocaine self-administration/reinstatement model, which allows us to test hypotheses regarding not only how chronic cocaine use affects properties of astrocytes and the tripartite synapse, but also how compounds affecting glial cells may influence synaptic processing within the brain’s reward neurocircuitry and behavioral measures of drug seeking.

Robinson, Donita email , , , , publications

The Robinson lab currently explores the neurodynamics of reinforcement pathways in the brain by using state-of-the-art, in vivo recording techniques in freely moving rats. Our goal is to understand the interplay of mesostriatal, mesocortical and corticostriatal circuits that underlie action selection, both in the context of normal development and function, and in the context of psychiatric disorders that involve maladaptive behavior, such as alcohol use disorder, adolescent vulnerability to drug use and addiction, cocaine-induced maternal neglect and binge-eating disorders.

Roth, Bryan email , , , publications

The ultimate goal of our studies is to discover novel ways to treat human disease using G-protein coupled receptors.

Snider, Natasha email , , , , publications

Our lab has two areas of interest: the molecular basis of liver diseases and the biochemical mechanisms of disorders linked to intermediate filament gene mutations. We use biochemical, cell-based and in vivo approaches to identify potential disease targets and to understand their function and regulation. The major goal of our work is to promote the discovery of pharmacological agents that can slow or halt the progression of these diseases.

Sullivan, Patrick email , , , , , publications

I study complex traits using linkage, association, and genetic epidemiological approaches.  Disorders include schizophrenia (etiology and pharmacogenetics), smoking behavior, and chronic fatigue.

Tarantino, Lisa M. email , , , , , , , , publications

The Tarantino lab studies addiction and anxiety-related behaviors in mouse models using forward genetic approaches. We are currently studying a chemically-induced mutation in a splice donor site that results in increased novelty- and cocaine-induced locomotor activity and prolonged stress response. We are using RNA-seq to identify splice variants in the brain that differ between mutant and wildtype animals. We are also using measures of initial sensitivity to cocaine in dozens of inbred mouse strains to understand the genetics, biology and pharmacokinetics of acute cocaine response and how initial sensitivity might be related to addiction. Finally, we have just started a project aimed at studying the effects of perinatal exposure to dietary deficiencies on anxiety, depression and stress behaviors in adult offspring. This study utilizes RNA-seq and a unique breeding design to identify parent of origin effects on behavior and gene expression in response to perinatal diet.

Thiele, Todd email , , publications

My primary research interests are directed at the neurobiology of alcoholism. To study the central mechanisms involved with neurobiological responses to ethanol, I use both genetic and pharmacological manipulations. There are many factors that may cause an individual to progress from a moderate or social drinker to an alcoholic. In addition to environmental influences, there is growing evidence in both the human and animal literature that genetic factors contribute to alcohol abuse. Furthermore, the risk for developing alcoholism is likely not associated with a single gene, but rather with multiple genes that interact with environmental factors to determine susceptibility for uncontrolled drinking. Some of the questions that my laboratory is currently addressing are: 1) Does central neuropeptide Y (NPY) signaling modulate neurobiological responses to ethanol and ethanol consumption, 2) Do melanocortin peptides modulate ethanol intake? and 3) Does cAMP-dependent kinase (PKA) play a role in voluntary ethanol consumption and/or other effects produced by ethanol?

Tidwell, Richard R email , , , publications

Dr. Tidwell’s research is focused on the design and synthesis of new drugs for the treatment of AIDS-associated opportunistic infections.  The rationale for design of new drugs is directed at determining the mechanisms of action, antimicrobial activity, and pharmacokinetics of dicationic molecules.  Studies have been initiated to isolate and identify new drug targets from Pneumocystis carinii and Cryptosporidium parvum utilizing molecular modeling and biochemical methods to aid in the determination of new structures.  The role of proteases and imidazoline receptors in the pathogenesis of disease continues to be a major area of research as well as a new prodrug approach for the cationic molecules to allow for much improved bioavailability.

Zhang, Qisheng email , , , , publications

Our lab studies lipid signaling pathways that are involved in development and diseases by developing novel chemical probes and technologies. As key components of cellular membranes, lipids also serve as signaling molecules and modify functions of proteins through either covalent or non-covalent interactions. Dys-regulation of lipid signaling has been correlated with various diseases including cancer, diabetes, and neurodegenerative diseases. Consequently, many lipid-related proteins or processes have been used as therapeutic targets. However, lipids are dynamically metabolized and transported, making it difficult to illustrate the roles of lipids in development and diseases with limited availability of probes and technologies for lipid studies. The active projects in the lab include: 1) develop novel technologies to synthesize complex lipids, particularly phosphatidylinositides, and identify their interacting proteins in live cells; 2) develop new small molecule sensors and inhibitors for lipid metabolic enzymes such as PI3K and PLC; and 3) investigate cellular functions of lipids on different processes, particularly those regulated by small GTPases.