Molecular Pharmaceutics

Molecular Pharmaceutics

Pharmaceutics is the study of relationships between physiochemical properties of drugs, their formulations and the effects on pharmacokinetics (absorption, distribution, metabolism and elimination of drugs) and pharmacodynamics (therapeutic responses of drugs). It is a highly interdisciplinary science that integrates chemistry, biochemistry, cellular/molecular biology, pathophysiology, engineering, mathematics and therapeutics. PBS faculty is actively engaged in all areas of pharmaceutics using biochemical, cellular and whole-animal models, with a focus on cancer and infectious diseases. Specific strengths are in the understanding of the molecular and cellular determinants of drug transport; the development of polymeric and nonoparticulate drug-carriers; drug delivery approaches that improve drug disposition; and the computational modeling of the properties that govern pharmacological responses.

Faculty members & their research interests

deborah elder

Deborah Elder
Clinical Associate Professor

Dr. Elder is PBS’s only clinical faculty member. Her current research projects focus on the preparation of extemporaneously prepared sterile and non-sterile pharmaceutical products, beyond-use-dating (expiration) of compounded non-sterile pharmaceuticals, drug formulation for individualized patient care, and the use of technology in teaching and assessing pharmacy skills.

dexi liu

Dexi Liu
Department Head
Panoz Professor of Pharmacy

My laboratory is interested in the use of gene/protein as a drug for prevention and treatment of obesity, diabetes, cancer and other diseases. Our emphasis is on identification of genes that code for a therapeutic protein and on illustration of its mechanisms of action. We employ gene cloning, biochemical, cell biological, immunological, and gene delivery/transfer techniques to conduct basic research in cell culture and in animal models.

russell mumper

Russell Mumper
Vice Provost for Academic Affairs

As of August 2014, Dr. Mumper is no longer taking students or post-doctoral fellows.

Research interests have focused primarily in five areas including; 1) nanotemplate engineering of nano-based detection devices and cell-specific nanoparticles for tumor and dendritic cell targeting and vaccines, 2) biocompatibility, hemocompatibility, and toxicology of nanoparticles and nanomaterials, 3) antibody-drug conjugates, 4) mucoadhesive gels, thin-films, and intravaginal rings for (trans)mucosal delivery of drugs, vaccines, and microbicides, and 5) anticancer and anti-inflammatory properties of berries and berry extracts.

catherine white

Catherine White
Associate Professor

Dr. White’s research focuses on the influence of gender on the disposition of drugs and drug carriers, and their subsequent therapeutic or toxic outcomes, and the physiological-based pharmacokinetic modeling for utilization in predicting toxicity and exposures. She also studies drug:drug interactions occurring at the maternal-placental-fetal interfaces, and pre-clinical evaluation of pharmacokinetics and toxicity of new drug entities. She is also searching for educational strategies that enhance active learning for pharmacy students.

jason zastre

Jason Zastre
Associate Professor

Impact of vitamin B1 supplementation on cancer progression: Vitamin B1 (thiamine) is an essential enzyme cofactor intersecting multiple metabolic pathways within the glycolytic metabolism network. Maintaining thiamine homeostasis requires the activity of two SLC transporters THTR1 and THTR2 to facilitate the intracellular uptake prior to activation into the coenzyme thiamine pyrophosphate (TPP) by thiamine pyrophosphokinase-1 (TPK1). Vitamin B1 is an essential enzyme cofactor for 3 key metabolic enzymes, pyruvate dehydrogenase (PDH) and alpha-ketoglutarate dehydrogenase (a-KGDH) in the tricarboxylic acid cycle (TCA), and transketolase (TKT) within the pentose phosphate pathway (PPP).  In cancer, thiamine-dependent enzymes are exploited for energy production, biomass generation, and tumor growth. However, vitamin B1 supplementation has a duality of effects on cancer cell survival and proliferation. At low to moderate doses, thiamine increases cancer cell proliferation. At high doses (>75 times the RDA) no increase in tumor growth has been observed suggesting an anti-proliferative effect on cancer cells. The overall research objectives are i) characterize the differences in thiamine homeostasis between cancer and normal tissue. ii) determine the impact of vitamin B1 supplementation on cancer cell survival and metabolism. III) Develop strategies to reduce thiamin mediated effects on malignant progression. The results of this research will link dietary influences on cancer progression with alterations in the homeostatic regulation of vitamin B1. In addition the research will contribute new insight into the pro-survival and pro-apoptotic effects of a physiologically and pharmacologically important enzyme cofactor. Overall, the outcomes of this research will require a critical rethinking of the usage and composition of dietary supplements and implementation of nutritional monitoring protocols for cancer patients.

The prospective graduate student: Students with a research interest in cancer as well as diabetes, alcoholism, and obesity are currently needed. Additional interests should be in the area of biochemistry (specifically metabolism), molecular biology, pharmacology, and drug transporters.

Students can expect to gain research experience in various molecular and cell biology techniques including qRT-PCR, Western blotting, cell culture, transport assays, and in vivo tumor xenografts.