Research in the Department of Pharmacology aims to understand how drugs and chemicals modify biological systems. Drugs can act at many different levels of organization, as the projects by our faculty illustrate:
Dr. Amy Arai works to understand cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying long-term potentiation (LTP), a form of synaptic plasticity that is considered to be a mechanism of memory encoding.
Dr. Donald Caspary focuses on age-related hearing loss (presbycusis), a complex state which may reflect pathological influences along the entire auditory system. Studies in his laboratory are focused on the understanding of two closely related questions in auditory research: how do inhibitory neurotransmitters function within known auditory circuits to encode acoustic information and what is the impact of aging on inhibitory neurotransmission in the auditory system?
Dr. Julio Copello's studies the molecular mechanism of intracellular calcium signaling, which is crucial for both triggering physiological cell processes and for the pathways that lead to cell death. His lab is interested in understanding the physical interactions between intracellular calcium release channel molecules that allow their functional coordination ("coupled gating") and in determining the role of intracellular calcium signaling in disease (e.g., ischemia and breast cancer).
Dr. Brandon C. Cox focuses on regeneration of hair cells in the cochlea and vestibular organs as a treatment strategy for hearing loss and balance disorders. Other projects are focused on development of the inner ear and signaling pathways that regulate hair cell survival.
Dr. Randolph Elble studies a new area of cancer biology, tumor suppression by the recently discovered CLCA family of calcium-activated chloride channel regulators. His lab has isolated several members of this gene family from mouse and human and characterized their expression in normal and cancer cells. He has found that the genes are strongly induced by multiple physiological stresses, including cell detachment and DNA damage by chemotherapeutic agents.
Dr. Carl Faingold investigates electrophysiologic and neuropharmacologic mechanisms that control brain function.
Dr. Louis Premkumar studies molecular mechanisms underlying pain perception and novel treatment options for chronic pain associated with peripheral neuropathies.
Dr. Vickram Ramkumar investigates the mechanism(s) underlying drug- and noise-induced hearing loss and examines the effectiveness of various therapeutics in reducing or preventing hearing loss. These therapeutics include antioxidants, anti-inflammatory drugs and agonists of G protein-coupled receptors.
Dr. Ben Richardson works to understand the physiology and dynamics of sensorimotor circuits and how disruption of these circuits may contribute to sensory and neuropsychiatric disorders. www.richardsonlab.org
Dr. Shelley Tischkau focuses on the molecular interactions of the circadian clock in disease states. Two major projects are ongoing. The first explores the interface of the clock with metabolism, specifically with reference to the development of metabolic syndrome after exposure to environmental toxins. The second examines how circadian clock disruption impacts aging and development of Alzheimer’s disease.
For more detailed information on the research of the Pharmacology Department at SIU
please view the individual faculty pages.