Our faculty has research emphases in the areas of brain cognition and aging, cancer, as well as cardiovascular pharmacology.
The cancer faculty studies the molecular basis of cancer initiation and metastatic progression. This involves using molecular biology, biochemistry, cell biology, and in vivo animal models to unravel novel signaling pathways in an effort to uncover new drug targets for treating cancer. The faculty is also attempting to understand why cancer cells develop drug resistance, a common problem in cancer treatment, and are working on identifying drugs that combat resistance.
The neuroscience faculty focuses on brain aging and Alzheimer’s disease with an emphasis on how comorbid conditions/diseases (diabetes, stress, lack of sleep, obesity, stroke, age-related hormone loss) affect the aging progress. Other key areas of interest are in drug/alcohol abuse and the factors influencing addiction-related disease states, as well as in Down syndrome research and factors influencing brain inflammation status. Our group of 10 faculty members is highly interactive and shares a common interest in understanding learning and memory mechanisms and gene expression pathways that respond to learning. We use pharmacological and molecular approaches for intervention in order to test hypotheses relating to aging or diseased brain function. Tools used include immuno-histochemistry, calcium imaging, behavioral characterization, molecular, adeno-associated virus delivery, electrophysiology, and gene microarray technology.
The Cardiovascular pharmacology faculty focuses on identification of mechanisms for the development of vascular diseases (aneurysms, atherosclerosis), hypertension, and clotting disorders. The long-term goal of research within these areas is to identify novel drug targets to develop effective therapeutic strategies for cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death in the US. An additional area of emphasis focuses on mechanisms linking obesity to cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, and impaired cognition with aging. Since the prevalence of obesity is rampant in the Commonwealth of Kentucky and the US, researchers focus on development of effective pharmacologic strategies to minimize obesity-induced complications.