Neuroscience, DNA, and Drug discovery images

Welcome to The Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology: Chair's Message

Dr. SowersThe Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology currently consists of twenty primary faculty members with varied and scientifically diverse research interests in neuropharmacology, molecular toxicology, cancer biology and pharmacology, and chemical biology. Departmental faculty members currently serve in directorship roles in the Center for Addiction Research, the NIEHS Center in Environmental Toxicology, the Cancer Center, and the Chemical Biology Program. An additional nine faculty members housed in Departments other than Pharmacology and Toxicology are full members of the pharmacology and toxicology graduate program administered by the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. The current federal support of our research effort ranks our department number 26 in funding out of 94 schools of medicine. 

Our training programs include medical, graduate, and postdoctoral education. Former students and postdoctoral fellows hold a variety of professional positions in academia, research institutes, government laboratories and industry. Current employment opportunities are especially bright for trainees from our program. The pharmaceutical industry, in particular, is in great need of well-trained pharmacologists and toxicologists with the expertise and knowledge to integrate drug information from molecular/cellular to whole animal studies. In addition, with the unprecedented opportunities for new drug discovery and development resulting from the Human Genome Project, pharmacologists and toxicologists remain in great demand because of our ability to translate discoveries from genomics and structural biology into therapeutic strategies and, in some cases, new investigative compounds that provide molecular detail about potential drug targets. 

Most of our faculty, postdocs and students are focused on basic questions related to the mechanisms underlying cancer or the mechanisms of action of drugs of abuse and environmental toxins. These scientists use a variety of experimental approaches, ranging from whole animal behavioral responses to cellular biochemistry to DNA structure and proteomics. Among the state of the art methodologies in use are analysis of native nucleic acids and proteins by mass-spectrometry, high resolution imaging, single cell electrophysiology, viral technology and quantitative behavioral assays. These technologies are brought to bear on a number of fundamental mechanistic questions about environmental toxins, cancer, and neuropsychiatric conditions that seek knowledge that could shed light on drug and toxin mechanisms of action, as well as fundamental aspects of disease progression that could be translated into cures for human diseases. Please see our websites for more detailed information about our graduate program and the research interests of individual faculty members.


Lawrence C. Sowers, Ph.D.

Chair, Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology 
Professor of Pharmacology and Medicine   
Director, Cancer Center Research Programs 
Fellow, John Sealy Distinguished Chair in Cancer Biology