By Department Of Pharmacology

Dr. Sophie Desbiens accepts position as Assistant Director for Adaptive Licensing at MIT

May 21st, 2014 in Alumni Spotlight

Desbiens-144x150Dr. Sophie Desbiens, formerly Principal Associate at Decision Resources, has accepted a position as Assistant Director for Adaptive Licensing at MIT’s Center for Biomedical Innovation in the New Drug Development Paradigms (NEWDIGS) program.

According to the NEWDIGS website, the program “is a unique collaborative ‘think and do’ tank focused on enhancing the capacity of the global biomedical innovation system to more reliable and sustainably deliver new, better, affordable therapeutics to the right patients faster.

By bringing together diverse collaborators within a safe haven setting, and leveraging MIT expertise in systems engineering, this group is well positioned to inform and enable meaningful high-impact change involving the coordinated evolution of technologies, processes, policies, and people required to achieve its mission.”

Dr. Sophie Desbiens completed her dissertation work under the mentorship of Dr. David H. Farb, Professor and Chair of Pharmacology, in the Laboratory of Molecular Neurotherapeutics and graduated in 2009. The title of her dissertation was “Therapeutic Agents for Cocaine Addiction: A Systems Pharmacology Approach.”

Congrats on the new position, Sophie!

Iriny Ekladious Awarded National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship

April 17th, 2014 in Student Spotlight


Iriny Ekladious, a second year PhD student in the joint Biomedical Engineering and Biomolecular Pharmacology Program, was recently awarded the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship.

The program “recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students” pursuing graduate degrees in various NSF-supported programs across the country and “has a long history of selecting recipients who achieve high levels of success in their future academic and professional careers.”

This year alone, the National Science Foundation received over 14,000 competitive applications and only made 2,000 fellowship award offers. The chosen fellows “are anticipated to become knowledge experts who can contribute significantly to research, teaching, and innovations in science and engineering.”

Iriny was also recently recognized for her service to the Boston University community as a Resident Assistant for Boston University’s Women in Science & Engineering (WISE) specialty housing. In an effort to create more support for women planning to major in STEM programs, BU opened a specialty community residence.

“It’s important to have a community of other women when you’re studying in the STEM fields,” says resident assistant Iriny Ekladious (ENG’17), a second year graduate student. “It can be intimidating, and women often feel outnumbered. Having a community like this gives students confidence and empowers them to say, ‘I’m good at this and I can do this,’ despite all the hurdles.”

Iriny’s dissertation work involves synthesizing, characterizing, and assessing the efficacy of pH-sensitive expansile nanoparticles for the local delivery of chemotherapeutic agents under the mentorship of Dr. Mark Grinstaff in the Center for Nanoscience and Nanobiotechnology.

We are thrilled that Iriny has been recognized for extraordinary contributions in the engineering and field and for her exemplary leadership serving undergraduates in the WISE house!

Selected excerpts taken from an article originally published by BU Today on April 16, 2014.

Dr. Camron Bryant to chair 2014 IBANGS symposium

January 13th, 2014 in Recent News

2012-11-08 13.09.15 BRYANT, Cameron_2Dr. Camron Bryant’s symposium proposal for the 2014 Annual Genes, Brain and Behavior Meeting of the International Behavioural and Neural Genetics Society Meeting has been accepted as one of six symposia scheduled for this year’s meeting. The 16th annual conference will be held in Chicago, IL from May 10-13.

The title of the symposium that Dr. Bryant will chair is, “Behavioral, neural and genetic studies of compulsive eating in model organisms and humans.” The objective of this symposium is to highlight recent behavioral, neural, and genetic studies of compulsive eating that lie within the framework of addiction and to inform future studies in model organisms and humans.

Dr. Bryant, Assistant Professor of Pharmacology and Psychiatry, is the Director of the Laboratory of Addiction Genetics at Boston University School of Medicine.

Congratulations, Dr. Bryant!

BUSM Researcher Receives Grant from CURE

January 6th, 2014 in Recent News

ShelleyShelley J. Russek, PhD, professor of pharmacology at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM), and director of the School’s Graduate Program for Neuroscience, was recently honored with an award from the CURE (Citizens United for Research in Epilepsy) Foundation. The prestigious award, given as well to her colleague Amy Brooks-Kayal, MD, from University of Colorado Denver, will fund research studies for new drugs for epilepsy treatment.

Approximately 65 million people worldwide have epilepsy. Although certain brain injuries are known to predispose someone to epilepsy, there are no treatments that reduce this risk. Russek and her colleagues have found that an important cellular signaling pathway, the JAK/STAT pathway, is activated after brain injuries that lead to epilepsy, and that inhibiting this activation reduces subsequent seizure frequency in an experimental model. “We expect to identify lead JAK/STAT inhibitors that can be advanced towards clinical testing to prevent or inhibit development of acquired epilepsy following brain injury,” explained Russek.

CURE was founded by parents of children with epilepsy who were frustrated with their inability to protect their children from the devastation of seizures and the side effects of medications. Unwilling to sit back and accept the debilitating effects of epilepsy, these parents joined forces to spearhead the search for a cure. Each year, grants are funded based on promising trends in the field and the potential for breakthroughs in a specified area. Russek was selected with the assistance of the CURE Scientific Advisory Board, the Lay Review Council, and the scientific peer reviewers who generously volunteer their time to CURE.

CURE has raised more than $26 million to fund research and other initiatives. CURE funds seed grants to young and established investigators to explore new areas and collect the data necessary to apply for further funding by the National Institutes of Health. To date, CURE has awarded 151 cutting-edge projects.

Originally posted on the Boston University Medical Campus website

Kendra Kobrin receives Carl E. Rosow Award for Pharmacology Education

September 25th, 2013 in Student Spotlight

IMG_0219Kendra Kobrin, M.D., Ph.D. candidate in Pharmacology, received the Carl E. Rosow Award for Pharmacology Education at the Department of Pharmacology & Experimental Therapeutics New Faculty & New Student Reception held on 19 September.

Kendra graduated Summa Cum Laude from Boston University in 2008 with Bachelor degrees in both Psychology and Music. Following graduation, she spent a year as a Research Assistant in the Dermatology Department at Roger Williams Medical Center before enrolling at Boston University School of Medicine. As a second year student in the Disease and Therapy course, Kendra especially excelled in the Neurology and Psychology Modules and joined the Department of Pharmacology & Experimental Therapeutics for her dissertation work shortly thereafter. In 2011 Kendra joined Dr. Gary Kaplan’s laboratory at the VA Hospital in Jamaica Plain, where her research focuses on neuronal morphological changes associated with extinction of opioid use and relapse to drug-seeking behavior in animal models.

Kendra has excelled in both her medical and graduate pharmacology courses, serves as Tutor Coordinator for the Disease and Therapy course, and contributes to Pharmacology orientation and recruitment events. As the 2013 recipient of the Carl E. Rosow Award for Pharmacology Education, Kendra exemplifies the leadership and academic qualities we seek to foster in all of our graduate students. We are proud of Kendra’s accomplishments and enthusiastic about her bright future in research and medicine.

Dr. Carl Rosow, for whom the award is named, is an M.D., Ph.D. graduate of Boston University School of Medicine and Professor of Anesthesiology at Harvard Medical School. Since 1985 Dr. Rosow has honored his Ph.D. mentor Dr. Joseph Cochin, an internationally recognized authority on opioids, by teaching this subject to medical students in the second-year curriculum and donating his honorarium to the school. The Carl E. Rosow Award for Pharmacology Education serves both to honor graduate students for their excellence in teaching pharmacology and Dr. Rosow for his continued service to his alma mater and its students.

Congratulations to both Dr. Rosow and Kendra Kobrin for the recognition of their unwavering dedication to superior medical education.

Pharmacology Research Fellow wins Alzheimer’s Disease Research Fellowship

April 8th, 2013 in Recent News

DSC_5178-Hirohide-Asai1-150x150Hirohide Asai, M.D., Ph.D., a physician scientist working as a post-doctoral fellow in the Laboratory of Molecular NeuroTherapeutics, was recently recognized by BrightFocus Foundation (formerly the American Health Assistance Foundation). Dr. Asai has been awarded a 2013 Alzheimer’s Disease Research Fellowship for his work on the cellular mechanism of tau dissemination under the supervision of Dr. Tsuneya Ikezu, Professor of Pharmacology and Neurology. Hiro is among a handful of recipients to receive one of the two-year fellowships, which carry a monetary value of $100,000.

Hiro is involved in finding a cellular mechanism to understand how tau protein, a primary component of neurofibrillary tangles found in Alzheimer’s disease brain, start aggregation in the specific brain region (entorhinal cortex) and stereotypically disseminates to the other specific brain regions (hippocampal fields). This has been pathologically known for many years but the exact mechanism is yet to be understood. He will elucidate the role of microglia and exosomal pathways for the uptake and secretion of tau proteins using molecular and cellular approaches.

Before joining Dr. Ikezu’s laboratory, Hiro had over 10 years of experience as a clinical neurologist, the last two years of which he worked as a staff neurologist in Japan. During this period he was responsible for the care of over 1000 Alzheimer’s patients or other neurodegenerative disease patients. His research career started in 2003 when he pursued a PhD in neuroscience, which he was ultimately awarded in 2009 with his thesis on the “involvement of the DNA repair system in neurodegenerative diseases”.

Hiro says, “Before coming here, I was wondering whether to be a physician or a research scientist. My experience in Dr. Ikezu’s lab and in this department helped me realize that I would like to be a physician scientist. Although it is very difficult to balance the weight of a physician (neurologist) and neuroscientist, I sometimes hesitate to engage in two trades, but in the end I believe that the hints for research can be seen in patients.” He also says, “I am grateful that Dr. Ikezu has made the most of my experience as a neurologist in our basic research projects. Under his supervision, my career goal as a physician scientist is coming into my view. One of my aims in joining this department was to work with and learn from the researchers who devote themselves to science.”

Stefan Yohe joins Bayer’s Berkeley site as a Process Development Engineer

December 5th, 2012 in Recent News

Yohe 2011-7-18 ImageStefan Yohe, a graduate student working under the supervision of Dr. Mark J. Grinstaff in the Center for Nanoscience and Nanobiotechnology, recently completed the Biomedical Engineering Ph.D. degree and Biomolecular Pharmacology training program. In November he successfully defended his dissertation, entitled “Superhydrophobic Materials for Drug Delivery”.  Stefan received multiple job offers from all over the country and ultimately decided to join Bayer’s Berkeley site as a Process Development Engineer working in the formulation of protein therapeutics.

In only 4.3 years as a graduate student at Boston University, Stefan completed two publications as first author and one as co-author, one paper in press as first author, and two submitted papers as first author.

In 2007 Stefan earned his undergraduate degree in Materials Science and Engineering from Penn State University. Before that, he was a member of the Boy Scouts of America for 14 years, completed his Eagle award at the age of eighteen, and was involved with the service fraternity Alpha Phi Omega during college.

We wish Stefan all the best as he embarks on the next journey in his research career!

Martin D. Leach, Ph.D., Chief Information Officer at the Broad Institute

September 10th, 2012 in Alumni Spotlight, Spotlight

LeachDr. Leach received a 1st class honor degree in cellular and molecular science from Anglia Ruskin University in the U.K. in 1989 and worked under Dr. Tim Crowe at the Clinical Research Center in Northwick Park Hospital, Harrow, UK as part of the UK Medical Research Council. He studied under Dr. David H. Farb and was awarded the Ph.D. in Pharmacology & Experimental Therapeutics from Boston University School of Medicine in 1997.

Upon graduating, Dr. Leach served as a consultant at CuraGen Corporation, designing structure and build out informatics, and, soon after, became Vice President for Informatics. His work at CuraGen spanned the entire pharma research and development continuum and included informatics strategy, design, implementation, support, and integration across basic research, pre-clinical, development, clinical, and regulatory functions. He was also responsible for corporate IT at CuraGen.

In 2005, Dr. Leach joined Booz Allen Hamilton as a Principal. At Booz Allen he worked with the partnership to establish and build out the PharmaIT practice. This spanned the entire pharma value chain with projects such as post-merger integration, IT strategy, informatics strategy, organizational change and design.

Dr. Leach became Executive Director of Basic Research & Biomarker IT at Merck in 2007. At Merck, he worked with leadership in Basic Research to develop and manage a portfolio of research applications and systems and high performance computing infrastructure to support target ID through lead optimization. Biomarker IT support reaches beyond Basic Research and with tight collaboration with Clinical Development IT delivers IT solutions to enable and support Translational Research.

In May, 2011, Dr. Leach assumed the role as Chief Information Officer at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, where he will be leading IT and computational instrastructure.

Dr. Leach is interested in providing scientists greater access to all forms of information with the end goal of expediting their research. He has over a decade of industry experience managing highly technical software engineers and IT professionals.

Department of Pharmacology is Pilot in University-wide Effort to Go Green

October 3rd, 2011 in Recent News

The Pharmacology & Experimental Therapeutics department on the Boston University Medical Campus (BUMC) was selected as the pilot for the Green Department Certification initiative through sustainability@BU. This is the first department to achieve 100% Green Office Certification and has already taken considerable steps in changing their collective behavior and administrative activities. David H. Farb, PhD, Professor and Chair of the Department has made waste and energy reduction a top priority for faculty members and staff and expects the department to be certified within the next month. Click here to read more on the Boston University Medical Campus site.

Benjamin Wolozin, M.D., Ph.D. Professor of Pharmacology and Neurology

May 23rd, 2011 in Faculty Spotlight


Benjamin Wolozin completed his undergraduate education at Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT. He earned his M.D. and Ph.D. degrees from Albert Einstein College of Medicine, as part of the Medical Scientist Training Program. His postdoctoral fellowships were spent at Mt. Sinai Medical Center (1988-9) and the National Institute of Mental Health (1989–96). He joined Loyola University Medical Center in 1996 as an Associate Professor and rose to the rank of tenured full professor. He joined the Department of Pharmacology & Experimental Therapeutics at Boston University School of Medicine in 2004 as a Professor and also holds a secondary appointment in the Department of Neurology.

Dr. Wolozin is member of the Boston University Alzheimer’s Disease Center and the Boston University Parkinson’s disease and Movement Disorders Center. His interests focus on the pathophysiology of neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. His work on Alzheimer’s disease examines the role of cholesterol in the pathophysiology of Alzheimer’s disease, and stems from his discovery in 2000 that subjects taking the cholesterol-lowering medicines, termed statins, have a lower incidence of Alzheimer’s disease. His work on Parkinson’s disease examines the interaction between genes implicated in the disease, such as LRRK2 and alpha-synuclein, and environmental factors implicated in the disease.  His work on ALS focuses on the response of RNA metabolism and protein translation to stress. He uses multiple approaches to study neurodegenerative disease, ranging from molecular approaches to epidemiology. These approaches include molecular biology, cellular biology, transgenic mice, transgenic C. elegans, study of human brain samples and epidemiological database analyses.

At present, Dr. Wolozin serves as the primary investigator for several funded studies including, LRRK2 and Neurodegeneration, Interaction between genes and mitochondria in Parkinson’s disease, Stress granules and the biology of TDP-43, Development of Opticogenetic switches for mitochondrial function, and LRRK2 interactions with pathways linked to protein folding and degradation.

Dr. Wolozin has received numerous awards for his research including the Donald B. Lindsley Prize, Society for Neuroscience, the A. E. Bennett Award and a Merit Award from Alzforum. He is a member of the Scientific Advisory Board for Proteotech Pharmaceuticals and CMD Bioscience LLC, and is on the executive board for the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry.  He also serves on numerous editorial boards, including the Journal of Biological Chemistry and Neurodegenerative Diseases, and is a standing member of the NIH CMND study section.