Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine
Department of Pharmacology
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Seminars & Events

Attend one of our events. View the calendar below to see what’s coming up.

Feb

26

Research Works-in-Progress: Kotaro Hori, Ph.D. and Nurmaa Dashzeveg, Ph.D.

Chicago - 4:00 PM - 5:00 PM

Please join the Department of Pharmacology for a Works-in-Progress presentation by Kotaro Hori, Ph.D. and Nurmaa Dashzeveg, Ph.D. Kotaro Hori, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Fellow, Laboratory of Dr. Murali Prakriya"Store-operated calcium channels: potential roles in regulating neuronal excitability and seizures?" Abstract: Store-operated Ca2+ release-activated Ca2+ (CRAC) channels are a major pathway for calcium signaling in many cells and serve numerous functions, including gene expression, the production release of cytokines, and cell motility. Orai1, the protein encoding the channel pore, is highly expressed in hippocampal neurons, however, the role of Orai1 in regulating hippocampal neuronal function is not well understood. A widely used model of neuronal injury and seizures used intraperitoneal injections of kainic acid, a potent agonist of neuronal kainite receptors. We found that mice lacking Orai1 in the brain exhibit significantly stronger seizures and mortality compared to wildtype littermates. Correspondingly, measurements of inhibitory neuronal activity using CA1 slice electrophysiology revealed markedly reduced spontaneous inhibitory post synaptic currents (IPSCs) in the Orai1 knockout mice. The decrease in GABAergic output in response to kainic acid stimulation could potentially alter excitatory/inhibitory balance in the hippocampus and increase propensity of the Orai1 knockout mice for seizures. These results suggest novel roles of Orai1 channels in regulating hippocampal neuronal activity. Nurmaa Dashzeveg, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Fellow, Laboratory of Dr. Huiping Liu."CD44 regulates glycosylation of breast cancer cells in metastasis" Abstract: Breast cancer is the most common female cancer in the United States and ninety percent of the mortality in breast cancer is caused by metastasis. Circulating tumor cells (CTCs) with stemness or cancer stem cell (CSC) properties are considered the seeds of distant metastasis. Previously, our laboratory demonstrated that CD44+ CSCs mediate spontaneous metastasis in patient tumor-derived xenograft (PDX) models. Moreover, CD44 mediates CTC cluster formation that is correlated with increased metastasis and worse prognosis than single CTCs. The multiple steps driving metastasis require dynamic modifications of the cell surface glycoproteins, such as glycosylation. One of the most important glycosylation in cell adhesion is sialylation, which mediates cell detachment from the tumor mass by inhibiting cell-cell adhesion and increases migration of tumor cells. Our preliminary data identified that CD44 inhibits α2-6-sialylation by suppressing the expression of ST6 beta-galactosamide α2-6-sialyltransferase (ST6Gal1), thereby promoting cluster formation. I aim to examine the role of CD44 mediated ST6Gal1 suppression in metastasis. Elucidating the molecular mechanism by which CD44 mediates CTC cluster formation via glycosylation will provide new insights in metastasis.

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Mar

05

"The AFFITOPE-Based Specific Active Immunotherapy (SAIT) - Challenges for Translating Positive Preclinical Results into Clinical Therapies in Neurodegenerative Disorders"

Chicago - 4:00 PM - 5:00 PM

The Department of Pharmacology welcomes Gergana Galabova, D.V.M., Ph.D., Head of Neurodegeneration Department at AFFiRiS AG. The following is an overview of this seminar as described by Dr. Galabova: Despite intensive research and increasing understanding of the underlying pathology, neurodegenerative disorders, and in particular Alzheimer's- (AD) and Parkinson's (PD) disease are still categorized as chronic diseases with unmet medical needs. In the last two decades immunotherapy has been considered as novel and promising approach for their prevention and/or treatment. And in fact, a number of pre-clinical proof-of-concept studies (POCs) successfully demonstrated the potential of passive and active immunotherapy to interfere with the disease, especially in terms of disease modification and slowing the disease progression. Nevertheless, a complete and efficient translation of novel immunotherapies from animal models into human still faces a number of challenges. In addition, immunotherapy, especially the active vaccination against self proteins, such as aBeta or aSynuclein, which are believed to play a crucial role in the disease onset (AD and PD, respectively), raises questions regarding potential autoimmunity. Thus, the development of specific active immunotherapy (SAIT) targeting self proteins is still controversial. The AFFITOME® technology is an innovative solution to this problem. It gives the opportunity to avoid autoimmunity, despite targeting self proteins by so called functional mimotopes or AFFITOPEs®. These are the antigenic components, which mimic the original epitopes of the target protein and are able to generate target specific antibodies. AFFITOPE®- and mimotope-induced antibodies are designed to bind preferentially the aggregated pathological form of the target protein. AFFiRiS completed several Phase I studies and a Phase II study in the field of neurodegeneration, in particular PD, MSA and Alzheimer and confirmed the technology as safe. However, larger outcome studies are required for confirming the efficacy of the AFFITOPE®-based specific active immunotherapy approach and the successfully translation from positive preclinical results into clinical therapies.

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Mar

12

"Mechanisms of Endothelial Regeneration and Vascular Repair: In Vivo Genome Editing"

Chicago - 4:00 PM - 5:00 PM

The Department of Pharmacology is pleased to welcome Youyang Zhao, PhD. to give the Pharmacology Seminar on March 12th. Dr. Zhao recently joined the Northwestern faculty as the William G. Swartchild, Jr. Distinguished Research Professor and Director of the Program for Lung and Vascular Biology at the Stanley Manne Children’s Research Institute at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. Recovery of endothelial barrier integrity after vascular injury is vital for vascular homeostasis and resolution of inflammation. Endothelial dysfunction plays a critical role in the initiation and progression of vascular diseases such as acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) and atherosclerosis. Employing genetic lineage tracing approach, we have defined the origin of cells responsible for endothelial regeneration following sepsis-induced inflammatory vascular injury. We delineated the critical role of the transcription factor FoxM1 in mediating endothelial regeneration and vascular repair, and defined the role of GPCR signaling in activating FoxM1-dependent endothelial regeneration using in vivo genome editing and conditional knockout mice. Furthermore, we found that defective FoxM1-dependent endothelial regeneration is responsible for impaired vascular repair and persistent inflammatory injury in aged mice, and developed novel approaches to reactivate aging-impaired endothelial regeneration. We have also validated the clinical relevance of this regenerative pathway and identified novel SNPs associated with disease progression in ARDS patients. Together, these studies will identify druggable targets leading to novel therapeutic strategies to activate the intrinsic endothelial regeneration program to restore endothelial barrier integrity and promote vascular repair in vascular diseases (sepsis, ARDS, ischemic cardiovascular diseases, and atherosclerosis) in patients, especially the aged population. Additionally, I will also discuss how the vascular niche regulates macrophage functional polarization in resolving inflammatory lung injury.

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Mar

19

Department of Pharmacology Seminar: Yong Wan, Ph.D.

Chicago - 4:00 PM - 5:00 PM

The Department of Pharmacology is pleased to welcome Yong Wan, PhD, Professor in the Departments of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Pharmacology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.    

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Apr

02

Department of Pharmacology Seminar: Reza Vafabakhsh, PhD

Chicago - 4:00 PM - 5:00 PM

The Department of Pharmacology welcomes Reza Vafabakhsh, PhD, Assistant Professor in the Department of Molecular Biosciences at Northwestern University Weinberg College of Arts & Sciences.    

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Apr

16

Department of Pharmacology Seminar: C. Shad Thaxton, MD, PhD

Chicago - 4:00 PM - 5:00 PM

The Department of Pharmacology is pleased to welcome C. Shad Thaxton, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Urology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.  

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