Pharmacology and Toxicology - Faculty

Kathryn A. Cunningham, Ph.D.


Chauncey Leake Distinguished Professor of Pharmacology
Vice Chairman, Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology
Director, Center for Addiction Research


Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

Contact Information

Phone: (409) 772-9640
Fax: (409) 772-9646

Research Information Page


B.A. 1976 University of St. Thomas (Houston, TX)

Ph.D. 1985 University of South Carolina


Kathryn A. Cunningham obtained a Ph.D. in behavioral pharmacology from the University of South Carolina and her research with Dr. James B. Appel focused on the mechanisms of action of hallucinogens. She completed a one-year postdoctoral fellowship in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston to expand her knowledge of cellular pharmacology and published the first observations of the actions of cocaine on raphe 5-HT neurons. Dr. Cunningham then developed her academic and leadership career at UTMB, and is currently the Chauncey Leake Distinguished Professor of Pharmacology, the Director of the Center for Addiction Research and the Vice Chairman of the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology. She is currently employing a cross-disciplinary, translational research approach that includes collaborative efforts with medicinal chemists, cell biologists and clinical scientists to discover neuromolecular targets for impulse control disorders and to develop these advances into new therapies for addiction and eating disorders. Her group has made numerous seminal observations and developed new technologies which are described in 92 peer-reviewed publications and 27 chapters, reviews and/or commentaries. Dr. Cunningham has mentored over 40 junior faculty, pre- and post-doctoral fellows with the result of more than 65 publications and 22 grants authored by mentees. Dr. Cunningham founded and created the vision for the Center for Addiction Research, implemented key strategies to expand research and mentoring activities, design and build new research space and infrastructure, recruit high caliber faculty, capture philanthropy, and optimize grant development and management programs. She was elected President of the College on Problems of Drug Dependence (CPDD) and served a 4-year stint on the Board of Directors. She serves on NIH study sections (1992-present; chair of CSR NMB, 2011-2013) and is the editor of Hot Topics (Neuropsychopharmacology). Dr. Cunningham received the 2007 ASPET-Astellas Award for Translational Pharmacology, was named the Hedwig van Ameringen designate at the Executive Leadership in Academic Medicine Program for Women in 2000 and honored as the 2001 Distinguished Faculty Research Award at UTMB. She is also active in her community and currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Women's Program in Galveston, Texas. Dr. Cunningham lectures on drug abuse, addiction and mental health at community treatment programs and Galveston College.