Pharmacology and Toxicology

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  • About Us

    The Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology has had strong, stable leadership that has directed successful programs of research and graduate education since 1972. Dr. William Berndt (1975-82) and Dr. Ing K. Ho (1982-2006) built a strong program emphasizing toxicology, drug abuse and central control of cardiovascular function with intracellular signaling as a unifying theme.

    This theme continued while Dr. Jerry Farley was interim chair from 2006-09. Dr. Richard Roman became chair in 2009. Dr. Roman, formerly professor of physiology, medicine and pediatrics at the Medical College of Wisconsin, has strengthened considerably the cellular/molecular basis of cardiovascular/metabolic disease and cancer therapeutics research within the pharmacology program and he has strengthened ties with the Department of Physiology and Biophysics, well known for its strong cardiovascular research program.

    In the last few years, we have recruited new, well-funded faculty members to the department with plans to soon add at least two more. A strength of the pharmacology and toxicology program is the breadth of experimental models/methods employed in the research program, ranging from whole animal models to genomic, proteomics and translational techniques. That strength translates directly to the quality of student training and is exemplified by the fact that 90% of the program's 136 graduates have obtained positions in academics, government or industry. Based on the history of trainees mentored by Dr. Roman and other new faculty recently joining the pharmacology program, that trend will likely improve.

    Examples of the scope of training available in the program include:

    • Dr. Roman, who studies the role of CYP-dependent arachidonic acid metabolites in the regulation of renal function, vascular tone and angiogenesis; studies using transgenic rodents to explore the genetic basis of hypertension and renal injury; and studies to develop novel therapies for the treatment of chronic kidney disease and diabetic nephropathy.
    • Dr. George Booz, who investigates inflammatory cytokine signaling in the heart as a mechanism of remodeling during left ventricular hypertrophy and heart failure. He is also investigating the therapeutic utility of hematopoietic stem cells for repair of the injured heart.
    • Dr. Jan Williams, who utilizes unique rodent models of hypertension- and diabetic-induced renal disease to identify early biomarkers for these diseases and to investigate interactions between pro-inflammatory cytokines, TGF and MMPs in the development of glomerulosclerosis.
    • Dr. Michael Garrett, who has a broad interest in the genetic basis of cardiovascular and kidney diseases such as hypertension, diabetic nephropathy, kidney stone disease and renal agenesis. He utilizes a multidisciplinary genomics approach that encompasses studies in human populations, animal models, cultured cells, genetic and genomics methods, and bioinformatics to address these issues.
    • Dr. Jia Zhou, who focuses on the roles of intracellular and intracrine angiotensin II in the control of renal function under physiological and hypertensive states using complementary approaches that include in vitro and in vivo cell-specific G protein-coupled receptor gene silencing, knockout and transgenic animals as well immunohistochemical localization of receptors, receptor binding and proteomic techniques.

    In addition to its cardiovascular focus, the pharmacology program has strong ties with the UMMC Cancer Institute. The director, Dr. Lucio Miele, is a professor of pharmacology and toxicology. He mentors several students in the pharmacology program, and there are on-going collaborations between him, other Cancer Institute faculty and faculty in pharmacology; namely, Drs. Roy J. Duhe and Roman in regard to the role of 20-HETE in the onset and treatment of cancer. Dr. Duhe also studies the mechanistic regulation of Janus kinase as well as the role of Janus kinase and cellular redox potential in the onset of diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.

    Finally, the pharmacology department operates an institutional Core Mass Spec/Proteomics and Analytical facility for the University of Mississippi Medical Center that houses a variety of HPLC, GCMS and two state-of-the-art LC/MS/MS instruments. The department is well equipped for confocal fluorescent imaging, patch clamp studies, core molecular and cell culture facilities, real-time PCR and DNA sequencing and high throughput genotyping.

    In short, our students have access to the state-of-the-art instrumentation and methodologies necessary to be competitive after graduation from the program.