Participating Faculty

The research in our graduate program aims to bridge the fundamental gap in knowledge between basic biology and the development of conceptually novel therapeutics for intractable disease, including cancer, neurological disorders, cardiovascular diseases and metabolic syndrome.  Towards this end, participating faculty in our program have a diverse array of research interests ranging from basic research in organ function, cell biology, neurobiology, and many other systems.  Our participating faculty are also interested in mechanisms of disease progressing, particularly with a focus on cancer genetics and epigenetics.  Lastly, several participating faculty are focused on developing new therapeutic approaches by leveraging the latest understanding of biological systems.

The educational and research opportunities, as well as the environment of our graduate program, encompass several aspects of biomedical research related to this mission, and are envisioned as a central hub to link basic research findings with the clinical enterprise. Program faculty include members of the Department of Molecular Pharmacology and Therapeutics and members of other departments that have research interests that are aligned with the focus of the program.  Altogether, our faculty have expertise in systems biology, medicinal chemistry, pharmacogenomics, genomics, epigenetics and metabolism. We encourage students to strongly consider rotating in the Core faculty of the program.  We also encourage students to undertake at least two rotations or up to four to identify an appropriate thesis mentor.  Selection of mentors and a thesis project are done in conjunction with the student, the participating faculty member, and, where appropriate, additional guidance from the program directors.

**indicates participating faculty that are accepting students in the upcoming academic year.

Core Facility 

Abate-Shen, Cory

The Abate-Shen Lab focuses on prostate and bladder cancer and encompasses mechanism-based studies, analyses of genetically-engineered mouse models, and state-of-the-art systems biology approaches.

Concepcion-Crisol, Carla 

The Concepcion-Crisol lab focuses on the intersection of cancer and chromatin biology. The lab aim to answer broad questions in the field through the lens of SWI/SNF biology: 1) How do specific SWI/SNF mutations alter the chromatin landscape to facilitate malignant transformation? 2) Which gene regulatory programs are co-opted by SWI/SNF-mutant tumors throughout the course of tumor evolution? 3) What genetic dependencies or targetable features arise in SWI/SNF-mutant lung cancers?

Fan, Qing 

The Fan laboratory studies the molecular mechanisms by which class C G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) transmit signals across biological membranes.

Sharma, Nikhil 

The Sharma Lab studies the structure and function of peripheral sensory neurons.

Yang, Dian 

The Yang lab investigate the intrinsic and extrinsic mechanisms governing cancer cell state transitions.

Yu, Yonghao 

The Yu lab focuses on the chemical biology of novel covalent protein modifications related to various pathophysiological processes. The lab is also particularly interested in translating the mechanistic insights into novel therapeutic strategies against the traditionally considered “undruggable” proteins for disease states, including cancer, metabolic syndrome and neurodegeneration.

Affiliated Faculty 

Califano, Andrea 

The Califano lab uses systems biology principles to elucidate and then investigate cell regulatory networks. 

Chio, Christine 

The Chio lab studies Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) that represents the third leading cause of cancer death in the United States.

Colecraft, Henry 

The Colecraft Lab studies works on voltage-gated calcium channels which are critical for the biology of electrically active cells such as heart muscle and nerve cells.

Cornish, Virginia 

The Cornish lab interests include harnessing the ribosome for unnatural oligomer synthesis using synthetic amino acid building blocks, and engineering yeast to enable directed evolution of molecules and pathways directly in a living cell.

Cremers, Serge 

Dr. Cremers' research focuses on clinical and translational pharmacology of drugs in psychiatry, cancer, transplantation, contraception and metabolic bone diseases.

Han, René

Dr. Hen’s laboratory is using animal models to explain the neural substrates that underlie mood and anxiety disorders. He has been studying the mechanism of action of antidepressant medications as well as hippocampal neurogenesis for the past 25 years and he has a strong background in molecular biology, pharmacology, gene targeting technologies, and in behavioral studies.

Izar, Ben 

Dr. Izar studies interactions between cancer cells and cells of the tumor-microenvironment, and how these define metastatic niches, response and resistance to cancer immunotherapies.

Javitch, Jonathan A. 

The Javitch laboratory is aimed at understanding the structural bases of agonist and antagonist binding and specificity in the dopamine D2-like receptors.

Jingyue, Ju 

Dr. Ju’s research uses molecular science and engineering to create and develop new approaches for highly efficient and cost-effective DNA sequencing, an essential technology in bringing humanity closer to the goal of personalized precision medicine.

Kass, Robert S. 

The Kass Lab focuses on ion channels in the cardiovascular system and on the physiological and pharmacological consequences of inherited disease-causing mutations in ion channel genes.

Kellendonk, Christoph

The Kellendonk lab uses mouse genetics to study neuropsychiatric disorders.

Lu, Chao

Dr. Lu's laboratory is interested in understanding basic mechanisms governing chromatin organization and access during normal and cancer development.

Marx, Steven O. 

The Marx lab research program has been focused in two major areas: molecular cardiology, particularly the regulation of ion channels in normal and pathological conditions in the heart, and vascular biology, particularly the molecular mechanisms of vascular smooth muscle proliferation, migration and contractility.

Miller, Gary 

The Miller laboratory uses a variety of methods including transgenic mouse production, immunohistochemistry, neurotransmitter transport assays, high-resolution metabolomics, electrochemistry, and behavioral assays.

Olive, Kenneth 

The Olive laboratory performs preclinical therapeutics trials using advanced genetically engineered mouse models of pancreatic cancer.

Prince, Alice S. 

The Prince lab has been studying the interactions of bacteria and respiratory epithelial cells to understand the pathogenesis of bacterial infection in cystic fibrosis (CF).

Shah, Neel 

The Shah lab is interested in understanding molecular mechanisms in cell signaling, with particular focus on enzymes that phosphorylate and dephosphorylate tyrosine residues on proteins as a means of relaying information within cells.

Steinberg, Susan F. 

Research in the Steinberg laboratory focuses on the mechanisms that underlie the physiologically important changes in cardiomyocyte adrenergic receptor responsiveness that accompany normal cardiac development, that influence the evolution of heart failure, or that contribute to cardiac injury in the setting of ischemia-reperfusion injury and oxidative stress.

Stockwell, Brent R. 

The Stockwell lab is defining the mechanisms that regulate cell death in cancers and neurodegenerative diseases.

Sulzer, David

Dr. Sulzer's lab investigates the function and alteration of the synapses of the cortex and the basal ganglia including the dopamine system in normal behaviors such as habit formation and action selection, and in diseases of the system.

Troy, Carol

The Troy lab works to develop an understanding of the molecular specificity of death pathways.

Yan, Shirley 

The Yan lab focuses on investigating the cellular and molecular mechanism of mitochondrial and neuronal stress and survival in aging and neurodegenerative disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease (AD), Diabetes, and age-related dementia.

Zha, Shan

The Zha lab investigates how defects in DNA repair and DNA damage responses impact normal immune system development, lymphomagenesis, and treatment responses.