Drug Action Core

Drug Action focuses on areas related to pharmacology, toxicology, cellular differentiation, development, and disease. Interests include the impact of drugs and toxins on biological systems, mechanisms of normal biology, and mechanisms of disease. These are studied at the cellular, genetic, molecular, and biochemical levels using diverse model systems.

Faculty research interests include:

  • Use of inductively heated, antibody targeted, core-shell nanoparticles for selective removal of targeted cells in vitro and in vivo. Development of high resolution nanoparticle labeling systems for correlative microscopy (Albrecht)
  •  Intercellular communication: uncovering mechanisms that coordinate the development of multicellular organisms (Bashirullah)
  • Genetic and pharmacologic approaches to study disease development and treatment, focusing on cancer and central nervous system diseases (Collier)
  • Understanding the transcriptional networks that control keratinocyte proliferation/differentiation and epidermal barrier functions during development and under pathological conditions; developing novel therapeutic strategies for the treatment of inflammatory skin diseases and skin cancer (Dai)
  • Bioactivation and detoxification of drugs, industrial chemicals, and environmental toxicants; biochemical basis for target organ selectivity; biomarkers of toxicant exposure (Elfarra)
  • Signal transduction, transcriptional control of neuroprotective genes and neurotoxicity in Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s and Neuromuscular disease (Johnson)
  • Analytical neurochemistry; neuropeptides; proteomics and peptidomics; glycomics and glycoproteomics; biomarker discovery in neurodegenerative diseases; quantitative system biology; metabolomics; microseparations; imaging mass spectrometry and its application to drug delivery and biodistribution; biological mass spectrometry (Li)
  • Molecular basis of prostate development, prostate cancer progression, and benign prostatic hyperplasia: roles of cell-cell signaling pathways and the use of mouse genetics to discover novel pathways that underlie prostatic diseases (Marker)
  • CRISPR-based genetic screens in pathogenic bacteria to understand gene function and antibiotic mode of action (Peters)
  • Understanding the molecular mechanisms involved with hormone therapy in the prevention and treatment of urologic cancers and benign diseases. Focus areas include: translational research, steroids and small molecules, stromal-epithelial interactions, endocrine disrupting chemicals, mouse models of disease progression (Ricke)
  • Preclinical model systems to investigate the role of the growth hormone/IGF-I axis in prostate carcinogenesis (Swanson)
  • Development and function of the blood-brain barrier; regulation of major histocompatibilty complex; modulation of neuroinflammation (Taylor)
  • Pharmacogenomics of xenobiotic toxicity, including both therapeutic drugs and environmental carcinogens. Mechanisms of familial and acquired risk for sulfamethoxazole drug hypersensitivity (“sulfa allergy”). Genetic variability in phase II detoxification pathways (especially GSTs and cytochrome b5 reductase) and cancer risk both in humans and dogs. (Trepanier)
  • Molecular basis of prostate and urinary tract development, physiology, and toxicology (Vezina)

Extensive communication occurs between the Discovery, Action, and Delivery Cores because of the central importance of drug recognition processes.

In some measure the Action Core draws its identity from the traditional fields of pharmacology, toxicology, cell biology, and genetics. Research in the Drug Action Core is funded among others by the NIH, NSF, the ALS Society of America, the Packard Center for ALS Research at Johns Hopkins, the Hereditary Disease Foundation, and SEA Grant.

DRUG ACTION CORE FACULTY: Albrecht, Bashirullah, Collier, Dai, Elfarra, JohnsonLi, Marker, PetersRicke, Swanson, Taylor, Trepanier, Vezina