The Department of Pharmacology at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine enjoys a tradition of excellence in basic science research with a focus on training today’s scientists for tomorrow’s discoveries.
The research mission of the Department of Pharmacology is to build upon its rich heritage by seeking to discover specific mechanisms that control physiological processes at cellular and molecular levels. An understanding of these mechanisms provides the innovation necessary for the discovery of new therapeutic interventions. As such, our research focuses on the future. From bioorganic chemistry and molecular biology to signal transduction and the cell biology of cytoskeletal assembly, the Department of Pharmacology provides a scholarly continuum that uses an understanding of molecular interactions to unravel clinically relevant drug targets.
Because modern pharmacology is a multifaceted discipline, we have created a rich interdisciplinary training program in pharmacological sciences by joining our primary faculty with affiliated faculty from other departments. This ensures that our research and educational offerings have the necessary breadth and depth in a competency-based curriculum designed to develop the skills required for scientific leadership in the 21st century for the newest generation of molecular pharmacologists.
The legacy of the Department of Pharmacology includes the award of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1971 to Earl W. Sutherland Jr. for his discovery of the now famous "intracellular messenger" cAMP. Several generations of scholars have continued this tradition through their nationally and internationally recognized contributions to biomedical sciences. In 1994, Alfred Goodman Gilman, an MD, PhD graduate of the department, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his characterization of signal transduction via G-proteins, while the 1998 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded to alum Ferid Murad, MD, PhD, recognizing his discovery of the role of nitric oxide in intercellular signaling.
At the forefront of the department's research mission is the former chair of Pharmacology Kris Palczewski, PhD, whose pioneering characterization of the structure of rhodopsin has provided a foundation for ever-expanding studies of the structure and function of G-protein coupled receptors (GPCR) that play a central role in modern therapeutics. An understanding of these mechanisms provides the innovation necessary for the discovery of new therapeutic interventions.
Another major initiative from the Department involves the Cleveland Center for Membrane and Structural Biology (CCMSB), initiated by Andreas Engel, PhD, whose characterization of the aquaporin channels by the advanced techniques of cryo-electron microscopy and atomic force microscopy is at the frontier of macromolecular structural biology. The renovation and expansion of the CCMSB are spearheaded by Director of the CCMSB, Phoebe Stewart, PhD, who specializes in developing hybrid structural methods. Her expertise compliments those of several promising young investigators who are establishing their independent labs and contributing to a critical mass that represents the future of structural pharmacology.
The past decade (2008-2018) has been marked by considerable growth in faculty number and diversity of research programs. Our research focuses on the future. From bioorganic chemistry and molecular and structural biology to signal transduction and neurobiology, the modern Department of Pharmacology at CWRU provides a scholarly continuum that uses an understanding of molecular interactions along with cutting edge structural biology technologies to identify clinically relevant drug targets. The success of this endeavor can be documented by many measures, including rankings from the Blue Ridge Institute for Medical Research showing that in 2013 the Department ranked within the top 9 for all medical schools in the country with regard to NIH awarded funds. Both locally and nationally, the CWRU Department of Pharmacology stands out as an exemplary environment for doing science.
Significant Events and Achievements
|Western Reserve School of Medicine founded
|"Laboratory of Pharmacology" established
|Earl W. Sutherland Jr. Awarded Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine
|Leslie T. Webster, Jr. led NIH-funded MSTP program for 13 years
|Alfred G. Gilman Awarded Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine
|Krzysztof Palczewski recruited to chair the department
|Blue Ridge ranks the department in the top 9 Pharmacology departments