Faculty Research Interests

Tenured/Tenure-Track Faculty

Maria Barbolina

Barbolina, Maria V.: Associate Professor of Pharmacodynamics, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, PhD (2001) Russian Academy of Sciences

Research interests: Microenvironmental regulation of ovarian carcinoma metastasis. Signal transduction pathways. Mechanisms of chemoresistance.

William Beck

Beck, William T.: UIC Distiguished Professor Emeritus, Professor of Pharmacology and Molecular Genetics, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, PhD (1971) The George Washington University

Research interests: Molecular and genetic mechanisms of anticancer drug action and tumor cell resistance to anticancer drugs; splicing factors in cancer initiation, tumor progression, and resistance to therapy, and their potential as novel therapeutic targets to treat ovarian and breast cancers; multidrug resistance; topoisomerases in anticancer drug sensitivity/resistance.

Karol Bruzik

Bruzik, Karol S.: Professor and Associate Head for Curriculum, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, PhD (1980) Polish Academy of Sciences

Research interests: Bioorganic chemistry. Investigation of mechanisms of inositol-related enzymes and their function in cell signaling events. Synthesis of analogs of biophosphates as inhibitors and probes of enzyme mechanisms. Real-time, live-cell assay of enzymatic activities in response to receptor stimulation. Isolation, structure determination and synthesis of novel phosphoinositide second messengers.

Joanna Burdette

Burdette, Joanna E.: Professor, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences; Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Education, College of Pharmacy. PhD (2003) University of Illinois at Chicago

Research interests: The Burdette lab is interested in biological questions that are important for women’s health. We integrate imaging, drug discovery, and basic biology to try and understand how and where ovarian cancers originate. Our research primarily uses mouse models to understand early events in ovarian cancers. We are also using natural products to uncover new progestins and anti-cancer molecules. 

CT Che

Che, Chun-Tao: Harry H.S. Fong Professor of Pharmacognosy, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences. PhD (1982) University of Illinois at Chicago

Research interests: Interested in natural drugs and Chinese medicine, including: 1. Natural products chemistry: isolation, characterization, and structural elucidation of secondary metabolites from medicinal plants and other natural sources. 2. Biologically active natural substances. 3. Chemical/biological standardization and quality assessment of herbal drugs and herb-based preparations. 4. Development of analytical techniques for herbal drug analysis. 5. Development of evidence-based Chinese medicine and other natural products 

Stephen DiMagno

DiMagno, Stephen G: Professor and Head, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences. PhD (1991) University of California, Berkeley

Research interests:Radiopharmaceutical chemistry, medical imaging, organofluorine chemistry, kinetics, and computational chemistry.

Alessandra Eustaquio

Eustaquio, Alessandra: Assistant Professor, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences. PhD (2004) Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen, Germany

Research interests: Specialties: Genetic engineering, microbiology, natural product biosynthesis, drug discovery, chemical biology, synthetic biology. 

Michael Federle

Federle, Michael J.: Professor, Molecular Mechanisms and Therapeutics Concentration Coordinator, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences; Director, Center for Biomolecular Sciences, PhD (2002) Emory University, Atlanta

Research interests:Research focuses on discovering and understanding how bacteria communicate among themselves as a means for organizing group behaviors, especially behaviors facilitating the initiation and progression of disease in humans.  Cell-to-cell communication in bacteria, termed Quorum Sensing, relies on a language of small, secreted signaling molecules called autoinducers.  Bacteria detect and respond to autoinducers through various types of receptor proteins sitting atop gene regulatory networks.  it is my goal to identify and describe the production and structure of new autoinducers and their cognate signal-transduction networks that contribute to the pathogenic state of the microorganism.  Our lab will use classic bacterial genetic and molecular biology techniques combined with conventional genomic, proteomic, and metabolomic analyses to identify components and targets of these signaling systems.  Structural analysis of autoinducers and receptors, as well as screening for inhibitory compounds, will also be a focus of our work.  I am concentrating my efforts on Gram-positive pathogens, as these organisms pose the most current threat in developing resistance to multiple antibiotic treatments.  It is my hope that our research will lead to the development of new therapies that exploit and confuse communication systems bacteria use to organize attacks on the body.

Scott Franzblau

Franzblau, Scott, G.: Albert Schatz Professor and Director of the Institute for Tuberculosis Research, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, PhD (1982) University of Arizona

Research interests: New drug discovery from natural and synthetic sources for tuberculosis; high throughput screening assay development; new drug target identification using proteomic and metabolomic analyses of dormant M. tuberculosis, low-tech clinical drug susceptibility assay development. 

Yu Gao

Gao, Yu (Tom): Assistant Professor, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, PhD (2014) The Scripps Institute

Research interests: Chemical biology, development of novel chemical and informatics tools to investigate the proteome and complex biological system. By combining chemical screening, mass spectroscopy-based proteomics/metabolomics, and informatics, Dr. Gao’s research aims to interrogate the proteome and to elucidate protein interactions (including protein-protein and protein-small molecule interaction).

Richard Gemeinhart

Gemeinhart, Richard A.: Professor of Pharmaceutics and Bioengineering, Pharmaceutics & Drug Discovery Concentration Coordinator, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences; Research Integrity Officer and Associate Vice Chancellor for Research, Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research, PhD (1999) Purdue University

Research interests: Tissue Regeneration. Micro/Nanostructures. Therapeutic Drug Conjugates. We are interested in designing polymers that interact with cells to elicit a desired biologic response. We currently have projects in the areas of cellular differentiation and cancer treatment. By utilizing and mimicking biologic interactions into synthetic polymers, the desired properties of the polymer can be exploited. The biologic motifs allow the cells or tissue to respond in a natural manner to the polymer resulting in more natural regeneration, regrowth, or cellular death.

Ashley Hall

Hall, Ashley: Assistant Professor of Forensic Science, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, PhD, University of Central Florida

Research interests: Forensic DNA analysis and body fluid identification.  My research focuses on the development of techniques for the analysis of challenging forensic samples.  Current projects include an optimization of strategies for the collection and analysis of low template and damaged DNA, a comprehensive analysis of the biological components of touch DNA and the evaluation of their possible applications in forensic profiling, rapidly mutating and stable Y-chromosome markers and applications of body fluid identification.

Les Hanakahi

Hanakahi, Les: Associate Professor of Pharmacology, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, PhD (1996) Yale University

Research interests: Genome instability is a hallmark of cancer, and malfunctions in DNA double-strand break repair drive the large rearrangements that are seen in many cancers.  My group studies the role of DNA double-strand break repair in oncogenesis, development of DNA repair factors as targets for new cancer therapies, and the potential for use of DNA repair factors as predictors of therapeutic response in personalized medicine. 

Michael Johnson

Johnson, Michael E.: Professor Emeritus, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, PhD (1973) Northwestern University

Research interests: Structural biology of proteins and RNA; structure-based design of therapeutic agents using modern techniques of computer-aided drug design, combinatorial expansion, in silico screening of chemical libraries and related technologies. Modern biotechnology provides an enormous range of tools for the development of new therapeutic agents to treat infectious diseases and other human ailments.

Karl Larsen

Larsen, A. Karl:  Clinical Professor of Forensic Science, Forensics Concentration Coordinator, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, PhD (1993) University of Illinois at Chicago

Research interests: Forensic Toxicology, Controlled Substances, Intoxicating Compounds .

Steve Seung-Young Lee

Lee, Steve Seung-Young: Assistant Professor, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, PhD (2014) Purdue University

Research interests: The Lee laboratory aims to develop novel bioengineering tools and methods for pharmaceutical science research investigating cancer, vascular and inflammatory diseases. To better understand and improve pharmaco-kinetics and dynamics of therapeutic agents, we currently focus on developing: 1) Integrated molecular assay platforms; 2) High-throughput computational data analysis systems; and, 3) Combination drug delivery strategies.

Alexander Mankin

Mankin, Alexander S.: The Alexander Neyfakh Professor of Medicinal Chemistry and Pharmacognosy and Distinguished University Professor, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, PhD (1982) Moscow State University

Research Interests: Mechanisms of protein synthesis; structure, function and evolution of ribosome and ribosomal RNA; mechanisms of action of ribosome-targeted antibiotics.

Terry Moore

Moore, Terry W.: Associate Professor, Director of Graduate Studies, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, PhD (2008) University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Research Interests:Our research group is interested in inhibiting protein-protein interactions implicated in the progression of certain types of cancer, particularly hormone-responsive and -refractory cancers.  Specifically, we are interested in inhibiting the Nrf2/Keap1 interaction, an interaction involved in various disease states because of Nrf2’s central role in regulating the cell’s response to reactive species. The second project is focused on inhibiting the interactions of nuclear receptors with coactivators. We study these interactions using fluorescence-based assays, and the lab uses the tools of synthetic medicinal chemistry to develop both small molecule- and peptide-based inhibitors.

Brian Murphy

Murphy, Brian T.: Associate Professor, Pharmacognosy Concentration Coordinator, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, PhD (2007) Virginia Tech

Research interests: The surfaces of marine organisms provide a source of nutrients for microbes within our oceans. Consequently a competition for space results between surface-colonizing (epibiotic) microorganisms. We propose that select secondary metabolites from epibiotic bacteria, which serve as chemical defenses or means of inter- and intra-species microbial communication, can be utilized to probe and combat the pathogenic mechanisms of human microbial pathogens. In the Murphy lab, these epibiotic bacteria are collected from unique source organisms, cultivated in liquid culture, crudely separated, and screened against a variety of human pathogens with the ultimate intent of discovering novel antibiotic structural classes. Of particular interest is the target Mycobacterium tuberculosis, a pathogen responsible for 1.5 ­ 2.3 million deaths in 2008 [WHO Global Tuberculosis Control report]. We work in close collaboration with the Institute for Tuberculosis Research at UIC (http://www.tuberculosisdrugresearch.org/), who has both in vitro and in vivo screening capacity. 

John Nitiss

Nitiss, John L.: Professor of Pharmacology, Assistant Dean for Research, Rockford Campus, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, PhD (1986) Illinois Institute of Technology

Research interests: The Nitiss laboratory uses a combination of genetic and biochemical tools to understand the action of anti-cancer agents.  Our hallmark approach uses yeast as a model system to define the pathways responsible for cell killing and drug resistance by anti-cancer drugs, and to apply insights obtained with yeast to in vitro biochemical systems and to mammalian cells.  We have been particularly interested in anti-cancer drugs that target DNA topoisomerases, and how topoisomerases influence genome stability.

Jimmy Orjala

Orjala, Jimmy: Professor, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, PhD (1993) Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) Zurich, Switzerland.

Research interests: Our research is focused on three areas: 1. Discovery of pharmacological active natural products from cultured cyanobacteria. 2. Chemical communication between microorganisms and its role in the phenomenon of ‘uncultivable’ microorganisms. 3. Novel antineoplastic agents from higher plants. Our research tools are modern chromatographic methods coupled with sensitive analytical techniques, such as microcoil NMR techniques, and molecular target assays. 

Guido Pauli

Pauli, Guido F.: Norman R. Farnsworth Professor of Pharmacognosy Professor and University Scholar, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, PhD (1993) Heinrich Heine–University Düsseldorf; Pharm.D., 1988, Philipps University Marburg..

Research interests: Within the realm of modern pharmacognosy, investigation of traditional as well as novel natural products by means of chemical, biological, pharmacological and metabolome analysis. Research tools are computer-aided structure elucidation, multidimensional andquantitative NMR, modern chromatographic methods includingcountercurrent chromatography, in tandem with in vitro and in vivo biology and pharmacology as well as microbiological methods. Relying on this tool chest, research focuses are in phytopharmacy and phytochemistry, herbal dietary supplements, reference materials, anti-TB drugs and mycobacterial secondary metabolites. 

Pavel Petukhov

Petukhov, Pavel A.: Professor, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, PhD (1998) Novosibirsk Institute of Organic Chemistry, Russia

Research Interests: Development of new methods and biologically orthogonal chemical tools for chemical biology and translation of this knowledge to discovery of novel therapeutically relevant compounds; structure-, ligand-, and fragment-based drug design using a mix of medicinal chemistry, computer-aided drug design, and bioinformatics. The current focus of the laboratory is on the development of methods for characterization of multiple binding modes of the ligands in the binding sites of histone deacetylases (HDAC) using photoactivatable chemical probes and discovery of novel inhibitors of HDACs, calpain, beta-secretases 1 and 2, pantothenate synthetase, and malate synthase with potential application in cancer, neurological and bacterial diseases. 

Andrew Riley

Riley, Andrew P.: Assistant Professor, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, PhD (2015) University of Kansas

Research interests: Research in the Riley Lab is focused on the investigation of small molecules inspired by natural products. Employing the tools of modern synthetic and medicinal chemistry we aim to access natural products and their derivatives to investigate how they interact with their macromolecular targets. In doing so, we look to answer important biological questions and provide novel treatment options in the areas of pain and cancer.

Fran Schlemmer

Schlemmer, R. Francis: Associate Professor Emeritus of Pharmacodynamics, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, PhD (1977) University of Illinois at Chicago

Research interests: Pharmacy and Pharmacology Education. Behavioral pharmacology of psychotherapeutic drugs and drugs of abuse, development of primate models of mental disorders.

Doel Soejarto

Soejarto, D. Doel: Professor Emeritus, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, PhD (1969) Harvard University

Research interests: Taxonomy and conservation of plants, with special focus in Southeast Asia, particularly, Vietnam and Laos, and study of plants used in indigenous therapy, as well as tropical rainforest explorations of new and potential medicinal plants (bioprospecting), as part of collaborative research projects at UIC. I also study the taxonomy of the family Actinidiaceae. Since 1998, I have been directing an international collaborative program to study the biodiversity of Vietnam and Laos, as part of the International Cooperative Biodiversity Groups (ICBG) Program (http://www.fic.nih.gov/programs/icbg.html and http://www.uic.edu/pharmacy/research/icbg/ICBG.htm) of the Fogarty International Center, NIH. Our ICBG program activities include floristics and conservation at Cuc Phuong National Park; studies of medicinal plants of Laos; biological evaluation of plants of Vietnam and Laos using anti-HIV, anticancer, anti-TB and anti-malarial bioassays toward the discovery of biologically active molecules as potential candidates for pharmaceutical development; and the promotion of economic development among communities in Vietnam and Laos, where our ICBG work is being undertaken. Aside from UIC as base institution, our ICBG consortium members include Purdue University, Vietnamese Academy of Science and Technology in Hanoi (Institute of Biotechnology, Institute of Chemistry, and Institute of Ecology and Biological Resources), Cuc Phuong National Park (Vietnam), Traditional Medicine Research Center in Vientiane (Laos), and Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. (industrial partner). 

Douglas Thomas

Thomas, Douglas D.: Associate Professor, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, PhD (2000) Louisiana State University

Research interests: Our goal is to elucidate fundamental mechanisms to explain the etiologies of cancer. In addition to gene mutations, aberrant epigenetic modifications also play major roles in cancer development and progression. The primary focus of this lab is to investigate the myriad of abnormal epigenetic modifications that have been associated with tumor phenotype via tumor suppressor silencing or upregulation of oncogenic proteins. Our approach uses both in vitro and in vivo model systems coupled with a multitude of methodologies including mass spectroscopy, confocal microscopy, electron paramagnetic resonance imaging of free radicals, chemiluminescence, electrochemical, and molecular biology techniques. The current emphasis of our team focuses on genome-wide analysis of events leading to the development and ultimate treatment of breast cancer.

Debra Tonetti

Tonetti, Debra A.: Professor of Pharmacology, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, PhD (1990) Loyola University Chicago

Research interests: Pharmacology and biology of breast cancer including mechanisms of endocrine-resistance and pregnancy-associated breast cancer. Protein Kinase C signaling as a mechanism of tamoxifen-resistant breast cancer. Pregnancy Associated Breast Cancer. Interaction of soy phytoestrogens with tamoxifen for the chemoprevention of breast cancer. 

Don Waller

Waller, Donald P.: Professor of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, PhD (1974) The Ohio State University

Research interests: Reproductive pharmacology and toxicology, STD prevention in women, environmental toxicology. Characterization of PCB exposures in pregnant African American women through ingestion of fish from Lake Michigan. Toxicology studies on new contraceptive devices and agents. Antifertility screening of plant-derived compounds and crude plant extracts. Mechanisms of male mediated effects on fetal development.

Zaijie (Jim) Wang

Wang, Zaijie (Jim): UIC Distinguished Professor, University Scholar, Professor of Pharmacology and Pharmaceutics, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, PhD (1996) University of California San Francisco

Research interests: Pain, addiction, and natural product pharmacology.
We apply the power of neurobiology, pharmacology, molecular biology, genetics, and targeted delivery in our studies

Zongmin Zhao

Zhao, Zongmin: Assistant Professor, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, PhD (2017) Virginia Tech

Research interests: Drug delivery, biomaterials, cellular engineering, immunomodulation. Our research focuses on innovating drug delivery, cellular engineering, and immunoengineering technologies for advanced therapeutics, with the ultimate goal to improve the diagnosis and treatment of a range of diseases including cancer, infectious diseases, inflammation, drug addictions, and autoimmune diseases. We exploit inspirations from intrinsic biology to fundamentally understand synthetic materials-biology interactions and to develop application-driven technologies for advanced therapeutics. The current focus of our research group includes 1) engineering living cells as the next-generation platforms to tackle biological barriers for drug delivery, gene editing, and beyond, 2) genetic engineering of cells for advanced cell therapy, and 3) biomimetic and material-driven engineering of the immune system/cells for vaccination and immunomodulation.