Appointment of First Faculty Researchers Announced
Published on 03 June 2017
In August 2015, St. Louis College of Pharmacy and Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis joined forces to find better, safer and more effective ways to use prescription medications to improve health. Researchers from the two institutions collaborated to create the Center for Clinical Pharmacology.
The center’s initial focus is on translational and clinical research to better understand and improve pain treatment. The new center is concentrating on how to best use existing drugs to treat pain, as well as on developing and identifying new analgesic drugs and other therapeutic approaches for pain.
With the appointment of the first faculty researchers, the center is taking key steps toward executing its vision. Faculty at the
The first two researchers, Ream Al-
Following these formative experiences, Al-Hasani focused her interests on addiction, by pursuing a Medical Research Council-funded Doctor of Philosophy in neuropharmacology at the University of Surrey where she studied the involvement of adenosine A2 receptors in morphine and cocaine addiction.
Al-Hasani completed her postdoctoral training in the Department of Anesthesiology at WUSM. There, she focused on dissecting the role of the opioid circuitry in motivated behaviors. Her work has clarified the role of chronic, mild stress on noradrenergic systems and has uncovered new roles for cue-induced reinstatement of morphine seeking behavior.
In 2015, Al-Hasani was awarded the prestigious Pathway to Independence Award (K99/R00) from the National Institute on Drug Abuse for her work implementing wireless optogenetics, in vivo neuropeptide detection and neural circuit tracing that led to the identification of two distinct subpopulations of behaviors. The award provided her with an additional two years of mentored phase funding and three years of R01-like funding to use in her own independent laboratory.
In her laboratory at the center, Al-Hasani will continue to use multidisciplinary approaches to further our understanding of the negative affective behaviors associated with the withdrawal phase of addiction and the interaction of endogenous opioid systems with commonly prescribed opioid analgesics.
“It’s a new venture and a chance to do what everyone’s been trying to do—bridge basic research with clinical research,” Al-Hasani said. “To have both the clinical and basic aspects in one building adds a lot of strength. It’s invigorating to be a part of the growth of the center and help shape it into what it will become.”
Jordan G. McCall, Ph.D.
Jordan G. McCall, Ph.D., holds a primary appointment as assistant professor in the Department of Anesthesiology at WUSM and an adjunct appointment as assistant professor in the Department of Pharmaceutical and Administrative Sciences at the College.
McCall earned a Bachelor of Science in Biology, a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a Master of Public Health in Health Policy and Administration from the University of Missouri-Columbia. He completed his Doctor of Philosophy in Neurosciences at Washington University in St. Louis, where he remained as a postdoctoral research associate studying pain neurophysiology. McCall’s research is notable for uncovering the neural circuitry responsible for the anxiety-reducing effects of beta-blockers and for pioneering new wireless technology to manipulate neural circuitry.
As part of McCall’s appointment with the
“The completely blank slate of the center and the energy to drive the vision of a multidisciplinary center that tackles pharmacology, neuroscience questions and pain research is exciting and a rare opportunity,” McCall said.
As new faculty researchers are appointed and they begin to establish laboratories, the center will become a hub of activity. The center plans to be fully staffed and operational with at least five new principal investigators who will hold faculty appointments at both institutions and be largely supported through extramural funding within three years.
The center will also create opportunities for student researchers, graduate students and post-doctoral fellows at the College and WUSM to gain research experience and explore new career paths.
“The center will help promote a research agenda for the College, while also strengthening the center’s commitment to fostering the growth of the next generation of clinical researchers,” said Karen Seibert, Ph.D., co-director of the Center for Clinical Pharmacology and professor in the Department of Anesthesiology, as well as the Department of Pathology and Immunology and Department of Genetics at WUSM. “The center will explore participation in existing training programs through the Division of Biology and Biomedical Sciences and the Institute of Clinical and Translational Sciences.”
As the final pieces fall into place, and the center begins to take on a more robust form
Active recruitment is underway for the remaining researchers. Contact the center to learn more about opportunities.
This story was first published in the spring 2017 issue of Script. Visit stlcop.edu/script to read more and access previous issues.