Message from the Chair

Jonathan Backer, M.D.

Pharmacology is the study of drugs, their mechanism of action, and their effects on human physiology and health. Modern pharmacology seeks to define novel drug targets in cancer, aging and metabolic disease, neurobiology and toxicology, using biochemistry and cell biology in vitro and in vivo systems from yeast to mice.

The Department of Molecular Pharmacology has long history of outstanding scientific achievement in cancer, diabetes, and other diseases. The department was founded by Alfred Gilman, author of the widely used text, The Pharmacological Basis of Therapeutics. He was followed by Ora Rosen, who first cloned the insulin receptor and made important contributions to adipocyte biology. The department was then co-chaired for over 30 years by Charles Rubin, who discovered A-Kinase Anchor Proteins (AKAPS), and Susan Horwitz, who was instrumental in defining the mechanism of action of taxol and promoting its use as an anti-cancer drug. I became the fifth chair of Molecular Pharmacology in 2015.

The Department has changed over the years to become more diverse intellectually and personally. Our faculty provide exciting training opportunities in a wide range of areas: cell signaling and regulation, transcriptional and translational regulation, mechanisms of drug action and resistance, and physiology and toxicology. Students and postdoctoral fellows in Molecular Pharmacology are exposed to cutting edge methodologies ranging from the design of optical biosensors in live cells to genome-wide analyses of transcription, splicing and translation, using yeast, worms, flies, and mice, as well as samples from human patients. The Department strives to maintain a collaborative and supportive academic environment, and we continue to place our students in highly competitive post-graduate training and research positions.

I hope that you will explore our department through our website and by directly contacting our faculty.

Thank you.

Jonathan Backer, M.D.
Williams Lasdon Professor and Chair
Department of Molecular Pharmacology.