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.

Sep

25

"Structure-guided Drug Discovery and Structural Genomics"

Chicago - 4:00 PM - 5:00 PM

The Department of Pharmacology is pleased to welcome Northwestern's own Dr. Wayne F. Anderson, PhD, Professor Emeritus of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics. Structural genomics approaches and methods have greatly sped up structural biology research and are having an impact on structure-guided drug discovery. High throughput methods can rapidly provide detailed information on atomic interactions between small molecules and target proteins. Having access to the structures of sets of proteins that are desired targets in the presence of a variety of ligands as well as proteins that should not be targeted is an advantage for optimizing hits from screens. Another area that benefits from high throughput structure determination is function discovery. By examining whole systems of proteins that function together, structural insights can aid in defining the functions of the system and suggest further experiments. Examples taken from the work of the Center for Structural Genomics of Infectious Diseases will be used to illustrate applications of structural genomics approaches.

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Oct

09

"Targeting Potassium Ion channels in Cancer: From the discovery of novel signal transduction to safe therapeutic opportunities"

Chicago - 4:00 PM - 5:00 PM

The Department of Pharmacology is pleased to welcome Dr. Saverio Gentile, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Molecular Pharmacology and Therepeutics, Loyola University Chicago. The following, is an overview of this seminar, as described by Dr. Gentile: Cancer is a group of diseases that produce more than 8.4 million deaths a year worldwide. It has been well established that cancer is characterized by cellular de-differentiation and death evasion leading to uncontrolled cell proliferation and increased migration and that it can potentially arise in any cell of any tissue. Despite the fact that several therapeutic approaches have significantly improved outcome in some type of cancers, antineoplastic treatments have been severely hindered by the difficulty in targeting proteins governing important steps of the carcinogenesis cascade, limited drug availability, side effects, drug resistance in cancer patients and excessive financial burden. Therefore, finding novel therapeutic agents targeting specific molecular pathways involved in cancer biology are urgently needed.Potassium (K+) ion channels have been traditionally studied in terminally differentiated cells because of their role in generating and shaping action potentials during neuronal transmission and/or muscle contraction. Nevertheless, K+ channels have been found expressed in every cells of a human body and it has been well established that these proteins can play a fundamental role in governing important cellular events such as proliferation and migration in both excitable and non-excitable cells. Nevertheless, very little is known about the role of K+ channels in cancer biology and whether these proteins can be targeted for therapeutic intervention against cancer.During our investigation to identify new and critical targets in cancer, we found that K+ ion channels can contribute to several of the hallmarks of cancer including proliferation, migration, cancer cell metabolism and oxidative state. In this talk I will describe the molecular mechanism linking specific K+ channels to cellular senescence, autophagy and/or ROS formation in cancer cells. In addition, I will describe the effects of pharmacologically targeting specific K+ ion channels on tumor growth and propose a novel anticancer targeted approach in which “cheap”, safe and non-toxic FDA approved molecules targeting K+ channels can be used to treat ovarian cancers.

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Oct

16

KCNQ1 and Iks Channels: New Drug Targets for Treating Cardiac Arrhythmias

Chicago - 4:00 PM - 5:00 PM

The Department of Pharmacology welcomes Dr. Jianmin Cui, Ph.D., Professor of Biomedical Engineering, Washington University in St. Louis. The following, is an overview of this seminar, as described by Dr. Cui: The opening of Iks channels in the heart repolarizes cardiac action potentials and regulates heart rhythm. IKs is formed by the association of the voltage activated K+ channel alpha subunit KCNQ1 and the auxiliary beta subunit KCNE1. Voltage dependent opening of KCNQ1 and Iks channels involves three molecular processes: voltage sensor activation, propagation of voltage sensor movements to the pore, and pore opening. We have identified chemical compounds that enhance KCNQ1 and Iks channel opening by modifying either voltage sensor activation or propagation of voltage sensor movements to the pore. The enhanced IKs currents by these compounds reduce drug induced action potential prolongation in cardiac myocytes, suggesting that KCNQ1 and IKs channels may be new drug targets for treating cardiac arrhythmias.

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Oct

23

Mitochondrial Transport and Energy Homeostasis in Synaptic Transmission, Neuronal Degeneration and Regeneration

Chicago - 4:00 PM - 5:00 PM

The Department of Pharmacology is pleased to welcome Dr. Zuhang Sheng, Ph.D., Senior Principal Investigator; Chief, Synaptic Function Section, NINDS, NIH The following, is an overview of this seminar, as described by Dr. Sheng: The research in the Sheng laboratory is focused on mechanisms regulating axonal transport in healthy and diseased neurons. Using genetic mouse models, his group is addressing several fundamental questions: (1) how mitochondrial transport is regulated to sense changes in synaptic activity, mitochondrial integrity, axon injury and pathological stress; (2) how neurons coordinate late endocytic transport and autophagy-lysosomal function to maintain cellular homeostasis and synaptic function; (3) how impaired transport contributes to synaptic dysfunction and axonal pathology in several major neurodegenerative diseases. His lab has used a broad range of approaches to tackle these problems, notably the development of neuronal cultures from adult disease mouse models and live imaging of various organelle transport in axons. These studies have led to the identification of motor adaptor and anchoring proteins that regulate axonal transport of mitochondria, endo-lysosomes, and synaptic cargoes. The long-term goal of the laboratory is to decipher mechanisms enhancing autophagy-lysosomal function for efficient clearance of dysfunctional mitochondria that are associated with several major neurodegenerative diseases. Pursuing these investigations will advance our knowledge of fundamental processes that may affect human neurological disorders.

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