In This Section

It is our honor to announce this distinguished group of 2022 Scientific Achievement Award winners who are being recognized for their excellence in the pharmacology field.

John Jacob Abel Award in Pharmacology

Mikel Garcia-Marcos, PhD

Mikel Garcia-Marcos, PhD

ASPET is pleased to award Dr. Mikel Garcia-Marcos from the Boston University the 2022 John J. Abel Award in Pharmacology. The Abel Award is named after the founder of ASPET. It was established in 1946 to stimulate fundamental research in pharmacology and experimental therapeutics by young investigators.

Dr. Garcia-Marcos is receiving this award in recognition of his high impact and innovative work in the area of cellular signaling.

Dr. Garcia-Marcos is a professor in the department of biochemistry at Boston University.  He received PhD training at the University of the Basque Country in Spain and postdoctoral training with Marilyn Farquhar, a pioneer of modern cell biology and pharmacology. Since he established an independent program at Boston University, he has maintained an upward trajectory by consistently publishing high quality and innovative work in the area of heterotrimeric G-protein signaling. His innovations have been achieved through an unusually large and diverse set of experimental systems (ranging from yeast and frogs to zebrafish and mammalian cells) and sophisticated approaches such as nuclear magnetic resonance, protein structure modeling, enzymatic assays, and bioluminescence resonance energy transfer. Dr. Garcia-Marcos has been a member of ASPET since 2010.

The award will be presented at the ASPET Business Meeting and Awards Presentation during the ASPET Annual Meeting at Experimental Biology 2022 on Saturday, April 2 at 4:30 pm in Philadelphia. Additionally, Dr. Garcia-Marcos will deliver the Abel Award Lecture titled The Secret Life of G Proteins to open the 2022 annual meeting on Saturday, April 2 at 10:00 am in Philadelphia.

Julius Axelrod Award in Pharmacology

Margarita L. Dubocovich, PhD, FACNP, FASPET

Margarita L. Dubocovich, PhD, FACNP, FASPET

ASPET is pleased to award Dr. Margarita L. Dubocovich from The State University of New York at Buffalo the 2022 Julius Axelrod Award in Pharmacology.  The award was established to honor Julius Axelrod, the eminent American pharmacologist who shaped the fields of neuroscience, drug metabolism, and biochemistry and who served as a mentor for numerous world-renown pharmacologists.

Dr. Dubocovich is receiving this award in recognition of her pioneering work in understanding the physiological role of melatonin and its receptors on neuroendocrine function and circadian rhythms, and extraordinary contributions to mentoring the next generation of pharmacologists.

Dr. Dubocovich first met Julius Axelrod when she was 25 years old and was inspired by this icon of pharmacology. She takes great pride in the how her own work has contributed to the field of melatonin receptor pharmacology and physiology initiated by Julius Axelrod.

Dr. Dubocovich is State University of New York Distinguished Professor of Pharmacology & Toxicology, and Senior Associate Dean for Diversity and Inclusion at the University at Buffalo (UB) Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.  She is an international scholar on the brain hormone melatonin and its receptors. Her seminal work revealed melatonin's impact on circadian rhythms, sleep disorders, depression, reproduction, body weight, and torpor. Building upon the early work of Julius Axelrod, she is credited with discovering and revolutionizing the field of functional melatonin receptors and pioneering the pharmacology of melatonin receptor agonists and antagonists.  She is a passionate educator, has built culturally and intellectually diverse and academically inclusive communities of trainees, and instituted inaugural programs for trainee development at all levels. Her trainees hold positions as neuropharmacologists, toxicologists, and neuroscientists. The impact of her teaching and mentoring has been honored with several local and national mentoring awards.  Dr. Dubocovich has been an ASPET member since 1983 and was designated a Fellow of ASPET in 2020.

The award will be presented at the ASPET Business Meeting and Awards Presentation during the ASPET Annual Meeting at Experimental Biology 2022 on Saturday, April 2 at 4:30 pm in Philadelphia.

Goodman and Gilman Award in Receptor Pharmacology

Krzysztof Palczewski, PhD

Krzysztof Palczewski, PhD

ASPET is pleased to award Dr. Krzysztof Palczewski from the University of California, Irvine, the 2022 Goodman and Gilman Award in Receptor Pharmacology. The Louis S. Goodman and Alfred Gilman Award in Receptor Pharmacology was established in 1980 to recognize and stimulate outstanding research in pharmacology of biological receptors. Such research might provide a better understanding of the mechanisms of biological processes and potentially provide the basis for the discovery of drugs useful in the treatment of diseases.

Dr. Palczewski is receiving this award in recognition of his innovative and pathfinding studies on mechanisms of activation of G protein-coupled receptors that have advanced understanding of receptor structure, signaling mechanism, defects that lead to disease, and treatments that preserve vision.

Dr. Palczewski is a Donal Bren Professor and Distinguished Professor at the University of California, Irvine, holds the Irving H. Leopold Chair of Ophthalmology, and is the Director of the Center for Translational Vision Research at the Gavin Herbert Eye Institute.  He received his PhD in biochemistry at the Technical University of Wroclaw, Poland and did postdoctoral training at the University of Florida.

Dr. Palczewski’s research utilizes a variety of multidisciplinary approaches to study phototransduction and the visual cycle to characterize the visual system in health and disease. Pursuit of such a comprehensive understanding of vision, including gene expression and transcriptional regulation, is essential to combat genetic defects, metabolic aberrations, and environmental insults leading to blindness. He has identified elements of the signaling pathways of the visual system, through targeted structural biology at different levels of resolution, obtained with classical and time-resolved crystallography, cryo-electron microscopy, and cellular cryo-electron tomography. By studying a precise structural and functional account of the participating retinal cells and their intracellular organization with two-photon in vivo and ex vivo microscopy, his work has made groundbreaking advances to recognize biochemical perturbations for early diagnosis of ocular diseases and stratification of patients for the discovery and validation of pharmacological treatments and to prevent retinal degenerative diseases.

Dr. Palczewski has been a member of ASPET since 2015.

The award will be presented at the ASPET Business Meeting and Awards Presentation during the ASPET Annual Meeting at Experimental Biology 2022 on Saturday, April 2 at 4:30 pm in Philadelphia. Additionally, Dr. Palczewski will deliver the award lecture titled G Protein–coupled Receptor Signaling in Phototransduction at the 2022 annual meeting on Sunday, April 3 at 1:00 pm in Philadelphia.

Otto Krayer Award in Pharmacology

Des R. Richardson, PhD., D.Sc.

Des R. Richardson, PhD., D.Sc.

ASPET is pleased to award Dr. Des Richardson from Griffith University, the 2022 Otto Krayer Award in Pharmacology. The Krayer Award commemorates the enduring legacy of Otto Krayer's personal qualities: his ethical behavior, his commitment to teaching, his high standards of scientific scholarship, publication and editorship, his promotion of interdisciplinary research to reveal the actions of drugs or other chemicals, and his guidance and support of younger scientists.

Dr. Richardson is receiving this award in recognition of his pioneering work in developing novel classes of anti-cancer drugs, dedication to excellence in mentoring, teaching, and ethics in research.

Dr. Richardson’s primary appointment is as the Alan Mackay-Sim Distinguished Chair of Cancer Cell Biology at Griffith University, Australia. He has held a highly competitive National Career Fellowship for 20 years (National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia Senior Principal Research Fellowship) and is Director of the Centre for Cancer Cell Biology and Drug Discovery.

He is a multi-disciplinary career pharmacologist whose research integrates chemistry and biology to dissect mechanism for the pioneering design and development of cutting-edge anti-cancer drugs. He has published 460-articles/patents (H-index: 100; >43,000 cites; Google Scholar 1/09/2022) and is senior/first/co-corresponding author on 93%.  He is an exceptional scholar, with editorship of 48 international journals and is a long-serving editorial board member of Molecular Pharmacology for 14 years.

Dr. Richardson’s program is a training-hub for young local and international researchers.  He fosters a caring/respectful environment and encourages trainees to find a healthy balance between work/personal life and supports trainees during crises. He understands the importance of family enabling flexible working-hours.

Dr. Richardson has been a member of ASPET since 2008.

The award will be presented at the ASPET Business Meeting and Awards Presentation during the ASPET Annual Meeting at Experimental Biology 2022 on Saturday, April 2 at 4:30 pm in Philadelphia. Additionally, Dr. Richardson will deliver the Krayer Lecture titled Tickling Tumor Cell Iron to Result in Surprising Pharmacology: Development of Innovative Anti-cancer Agents that Overcome P-Glycoprotein Resistance and Metastasis on Tuesday, April 5 at 1:00 pm in Philadelphia.

Pharmacia-ASPET Award for Experimental Therapeutics

Morris J. Birnbaum, MD, PhD


Morris J. Birnbaum, MD, PhD

ASPET is pleased to award Dr. Morris Birnbaum from Pfizer, Inc. the 2022 Pharmacia-ASPET Award for Experimental Therapeutics. The Pharmacia-ASPET Award recognizes and stimulates outstanding research in pharmacology and experimental therapeutics, basic laboratory or clinical research that has had, or potentially will have, a major impact on the pharmacological treatment of disease.

Dr. Birnbaum is receiving this award in recognition of his contributions to the discovery and development of drugs for metabolic disease and pathfinding studies on the cellular actions of hormones and regulation of metabolism that have led to new therapeutic approaches to human disease.

Dr. Birnbaum is the Senior Vice President & Chief Scientific Officer, Internal Medicine at Pfizer. He earned a PhD and a MD from Brown University, served his residency at Barnes Hospital at Washington University in St. Louis before his postdoctoral training at the University of California, San Francisco and Sloan-Kettering Institute in New York.  Dr. Birnbaum has held faculty positions at Harvard Medical School, the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

He is a physician-scientist whose contributions to diabetes mechanisms and treatments have spanned academics and industry. Dr. Birnbaum’s ground-breaking discoveries include cloning the insulin-responsive glucose transporter, and determining the role of Akt in insulin signaling, how insulin differentially regulates metabolism and growth, and the mechanism of action of metformin, the drug most frequently prescribed for Type 2 diabetes. This work has fundamentally influenced current thinking on systemic metabolism and the pathogenesis of insulin resistance and Type 2 diabetes. Dr. Birnbaum's renowned depth of thought and scientific rigor are informing the discovery and early clinical development of new treatments for some of the world’s most common metabolic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, and cachexia. ASPET was pleased to welcome Dr. Birnbaum as a member in 2021.

The award will be presented at the ASPET Business Meeting and Awards Presentation during the ASPET Annual Meeting at Experimental Biology 2022 on Saturday, April 2 at 4:30 pm in Philadelphia. 

Robert R. Ruffolo Career Achievement Award in Pharmacology

Jin Zhang, PhD, FASPET

Jin Zhang, PhD, FASPET

ASPET is pleased to award Dr. Jin Zhang from the University of California San Diego, the 2022 Robert R. Ruffolo Career Achievement Award in Pharmacology. This award was established in 2011 in recognition of the contributions made to drug discovery and development by Dr. Ruffolo. The award recognizes the scientific achievements of scientists who are at the height of their careers and who have made significant contributions to pharmacology.

Dr. Zhang is receiving this award in recognition of her pioneering work to understand the dynamic spatio-temporal regulation of cell signaling in living cells through the development of innovative molecular tools.

Dr. Zhang is a Professor and Vice Chair of the Department of Pharmacology, and affiliated Professor in the Departments of Bioengineering and Chemistry & Biochemistry at University of California San Diego. She received her BS from Tsinghua University and her PhD in chemistry from the University of Chicago.

She pioneered a native biochemistry approach and developed general strategies as well as specific fluorescent biosensors to track signaling activities in living systems, from living cells to live animals. Dr. Zhang also developed first-in-class technologies for imaging dynamic enzymatic activities in super-resolution and innovative molecular tools to enable the precise interrogation of biochemical networks within living cells. Pioneering work in the Zhang lab has led to a breakthrough discovery of fundamental mechanisms underlying spatial compartmentation of a ubiquitous second messenger, cAMP, as well as revelation of the oncogenic mechanism of fibrolamellar carcinoma, an atypical liver cancer. This and other discoveries have begun to establish a new conceptual framework ─ cellular biochemical activities are spatially organized into an activity architecture to encode essential information that profoundly impacts cell physiology and disease.

Dr. Zhang has been a member of ASPET since 2011 was designated a Fellow of ASPET in 2021.

The award will be presented at the ASPET Business Meeting and Awards Presentation during the ASPET Annual Meeting at Experimental Biology 2022 on Saturday, April 2 at 4:30 pm in Philadelphia. 

E. Leong Way Emeritus Travel Award

Krishnaswami Ramabadran, PhD

Krishnaswami Ramabadran, PhD

ASPET is pleased to award Dr. Krishnaswami [Kris] Ramabadran the 2022 E. Leong Way Emeritus Travel Award. This award provides financial support to defray the expenses for an ASPET emeritus member to attend the ASPET Annual Meeting at EB. The award honors Edward Leong Way (1916-2017), a former president of ASPET remembered for his contributions to drug metabolism research, opioid pharmacology, and a western understanding of Chinese traditional medicine, as well as the numerous scientists he mentored over 75 years of his professional life.

Dr. Ramabadran is receiving this award in recognition of his interdisciplinary contributions to opiate pharmacology including work to understanding pain perception and the effects of opiates on organ systems and physiological functions.

Dr. Ramabadran received his PhD in opioid pharmacology in 1980 under Prof. J. Jacob in Pasteur Institute, Paris. After a post-doctoral fellowship in the Department of Pharmacology, University of Alberta. he moved and worked in the Department of Pharmacology at the National University of Singapore for 3 years.  Later he worked as a Research Assistant Professor in Anesthesiology at New York University where he contributed to opioid pharmacology (34 research papers in international journals) and also served as an editorial reviewer for 8 international journals. Afterwards, he entered the pharmaceutical industry and contributed to drug development for 25 years at Abbott laboratories, AstraZeneca, Boiron, Endo Pharmaceuticals, Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer and Wyeth Research in multiple therapeutic areas including CNS, CVS, gastrointestinal system, endocrinology, oncology and urology. He has worked in Phase I, II, III and IV and contributed to several successful NDAs, sNDAs, and INDs.

This award is especially meaningful to Dr. Ramabadran because of his interactions with Dr. Way on several occasions at international meetings. Dr. Way and Dr. Ramabadran’s PhD supervisor, Prof J. Jacob were peers and had several areas of common interest in opioids including physical dependence and pain.  Dr. Ramabadran has been a member of ASPET since 1991.

The award will be presented at the ASPET Business Meeting and Awards Presentation during the ASPET Annual Meeting at Experimental Biology 2022 on Saturday, April 2 at 4:30 pm in Philadelphia. 

Division-Sponsored Awards

J.H. Woods Early Career Award in Behavioral Pharmacology

Catherine M. Davis-Takacs, PhD

Catherine M.  Davis-Takacs, PhD

The ASPET Division for Behavioral Pharmacology is pleased to award Dr. Catherine Davis-Takacs from the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences the 2022 J.H. Woods Early Career Award in Behavioral Pharmacology.  This award recognizes outstanding original research by early career investigators in the area of behavioral pharmacology.

Dr. Davis-Takacs is receiving this award in recognition of her innovative studies showing the risks of exposure to radiation using behavioral models. The results of her studies are relevant to diverse areas of science, including space flight, military defense, and cancer treatment.  In addition, Dr. Davis-Takacs has an outstanding record of service to ASPET. 

Dr. Davis-Takacs is an assistant professor of pharmacology and molecular therapeutics at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences.  She received her PhD from the Behavior, Cognition and Neuroscience program at American University and completed her postdoctoral training at Johns Hopkins University.

Dr. Davis-Takacs’ career trajectory combines behavioral pharmacology, neuroscience and radiation biology, with funding support from NASA. From her undergraduate days she has published on the effects of psychoactive drugs on behavior, but while a postdoc at JHU she developed her major interest in behavioral and functional consequences of radiation exposure. She has established that exposure of rats to X-rays, protons, and heavy ion radiation at dose levels similar to those received by astronauts, results in radiation-dose-related impairments in memory and performance in visual discrimination tasks, associated with alterations in the function of dopamine systems in the brain. An additional area of her research includes investigating cognitive decline following therapeutic use of radiation in oncology.

Dr. Davis-Takacs is very active in ASPET, holding society-wide positions as ASPET Council’s representative on the FASEB Board and as the Chair of the Science Policy Committee. She is also very active in developing programming related to mentorship, career development and recruitment through ASPET workshops and undergraduate events. She has also been a very active member of the Behavioral Pharmacology Division of ASPET throughout her career. She has been a member of ASPET since 2008.

The award will be presented by the Division for Behavioral Pharmacology at the ASPET Annual Meeting at EB 2022 in Philadelphia on Monday, April 4, 2022.

Susan Band Horwitz Award Lecture in Cancer Pharmacology

Susan Mooberry, PhD

Susan Mooberry, PhD

The ASPET Division for Cancer Pharmacology is pleased to award Dr. Susan Mooberry from the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, the inaugural Susan Band Horwitz Award Lecture in Cancer Pharmacology.  This award recognizes excellent original research by established investigators in cancer pharmacology. The award is named in honor of Dr. Horwitz who is a pioneer in discovering the mechanisms of action of cancer chemotherapy drugs many of which have been and remain mainstays of cancer therapy and whose work has changed the nature of cancer treatment.

Dr. Mooberry is receiving this award in recognition for her innovative research related to the identification, mechanism of action and development of natural products for the treatment of cancer and her strong track record mentoring younger scientists. 

Dr. Mooberry is a Professor of Pharmacology and Interim Department Chair at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio where she also holds the Greehey Distinguished Chair in Molecular Therapeutics. 

She received her PhD in pharmacology from the Medical University of South Carolina and conducted her postdoctoral studies on natural product drug discovery at the University of Hawaii where she continued as faculty and discovered three novel classes of natural product-derived microtubule targeting agents.  Her laboratory has expertise in the discovery of natural products with anticancer potential and identifying the mechanisms of action of microtubule targeting agents where she has conducted foundational studies on the non-mitotic effects of these drugs. She has published extensively, holds 11 patents on new classes of anticancer drug leads, and was elected as a Fellow of the AAAS in 2020.  She has been a member of ASPET since 2010.

The award will be presented by the Division for Cancer Pharmacology at the ASPET Annual Meeting at EB 2022 in Philadelphia on Monday, April 4, 2022 where Dr. Mooberry will deliver a lecture on her research titled Microtubule Targeting Drugs: So Much More Than Antimitotics.

Division for Cardiovascular Pharmacology Early Career Award

Fatima Alshbool, PharmD, PhD

Fatima Alshbool, PharmD, PhD

The ASPET Division for Cardiovascular Pharmacology is pleased to award Dr. Fatima Alshbool from Texas A&M University the 2022 Division for Cardiovascular Pharmacology Early Career Award.  This award recognizes and honors early career, independent investigators working in cardiovascular science.

Dr. Alshbool is receiving this award in recognition of her pioneering research to establish the impact of novel tobacco products including E-cigarette exposure on platelet function and thrombosis, and her quest to facilitate new therapeutic approaches to manage occlusive disorders.

Dr.  Alshbool is an assistant professor of pharmacy practice at Texas A&M University Rangel College of Pharmacy.  She received a PhD in pharmacology at Loma Linda University and a PharmD from Jordan University of Science and Technology.

Dr. Alshbool was recruited to establish a research program that is focused on understanding the role of platelets in the pathogenesis of cardiovascular disease, specifically those that are thrombotic in nature and are triggered by tobacco exposure. Her research should serve as the foundation for defining new therapeutic targets and facilitating the design of new drugs/approaches to manage many environmentally-related/induced occlusive disorders. Furthermore, her work should also guide and inform policy for regulating exposure and access to several novel tobacco products. Dr. Alshbool is currently funded by the American Heart Association and the National Institutes of Health. She has been a member of ASPET since 2015.

The award will be presented by the Division for Cardiovascular Pharmacology at the ASPET Annual Meeting at EB 2022 in Philadelphia on Monday, April 4, 2022 where Dr. Alshbool will deliver a lecture on her research titled The Impact of E-cigarette Exposure on Platelet Function and Cardiovascular Health.

Division for Cardiovascular Pharmacology Mid-Career Award

Swapnil Sonkusare, PhD

Swapnil Sonkusare, PhD

The ASPET Division for Cardiovascular Pharmacology is pleased to award Dr. Swapnil Sonkusare from the University of Virginia the inaugural 2022 Division for Cardiovascular Pharmacology Mid-Career Award. This award recognizes and honors mid-career stage, independent investigators working in cardiovascular science.

Dr. Sonkusare is receiving this award in recognition of his discoveries of abnormalities in vascular calcium signaling during systemic and pulmonary hypertension that may lead to the development of new therapeutics, and commitment to training young scientists and serving the scientific community. 

Dr.  Sonkusare is a tenure associate professor of molecular physiology and biological physics at University of Virginia School of Medicine. He received his PhD in pharmacology at University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and completed his postdoctoral training at the University of Vermont.

Dr. Sonkusare explores the contribution of vascular ion channels and calcium signaling to the regulation of systemic and pulmonary tone and blood pressure. He has identified abnormalities in vascular calcium signaling mechanisms in hypertension and novel proteins that can be targeted for therapeutic benefit. His research has been continuously funded by the NIH, including a K99/R00 award and four R01 awards. Dr. Sonkusare has mentored six postdoctoral fellows and three doctoral students. Most of his trainees have obtained extramural funding and co-authored high-profile publications with him. During his career, Dr. Sonkusare has been a prolific contributor to the scientific community, organizing multiple symposia, chairing the ASPET CVP Division Competition Committee, reviewing for the AHA and the NIH, and acting as a Director of Graduate Studies in Physiology at UVA.

He has been a member of ASPET since 2005.

The award will be presented by the Division for Cardiovascular Pharmacology at the ASPET Annual Meeting at EB 2022 in Philadelphia on Monday, April 4, 2022 and Dr. Sonkusare will present a lecture on his research titled Regulation of Blood Pressure by Vascular TRPV4 Channels.

Scientific Achievement Award in Drug Discovery and Development

Colleen Niswender, PhD

Colleen Niswender, PhD

The ASPET Division for Drug Discovery and Development is pleased to award Dr. Colleen Niswender from Vanderbilt University the 2022 Scientific Achievement Award in Drug Discovery and Development.  This award recognizes outstanding investigators that have made significant contributions in drug discovery, translational and/or drug development science.

Dr. Niswender is receiving this award in recognition of her innovative and highly influential academic-based drug discovery research in GPCR molecular pharmacology and translational approaches. Dr. Niswender has made profoundly important contributions across a broad range of topics such as the pathophysiology underlying Rett syndrome and novel approaches for Rett syndrome treatments, context-dependent pharmacology of GPCR antagonists, new modes of efficacy for GPCR allosteric modulators, roles of GPCR heterodimers in regulating brain function, and validation of specific GPCRs as novel targets for treatment of brain disorders.

Dr. Colleen Niswender is an Associate Professor of Pharmacology and the Warren Director of Molecular Pharmacology for the Warren Center for Neuroscience Drug Discovery (WCNDD) at Vanderbilt University. She received her PhD in pharmacology at Vanderbilt and completed her postdoctoral training at the University of Washington.

Dr. Niswender has worked with WCNDD, a team-based scientific drug discovery group, since 2004 and has extensive experience with molecular pharmacology, cell signaling, and drug discovery. She is the author of over 250 publications, has contributed to numerous patents, and has been involved in multiple drug discovery teams to advance small molecules for Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and schizophrenia. Two candidates are now in Phase I clinical trials and others are in preclinical development. Most recently, she has assembled a team of scientists focused on drug development and target validation for neurodevelopmental disorders, including Rett syndrome, Pitt Hopkins syndrome, and Neurofibromatosis Type 1.

She has been an ASPET member since 2007.

The award will be presented by the Division for Drug Discovery and Development at the ASPET Annual Meeting at EB 2022 in Philadelphia on Monday, April 4, 2022 where Dr. Niswender will deliver a lecture titled Perseverance in Academic Drug Discovery: Development of Positive Allosteric Modulators of Metabotropic Glutamate Receptor 4 for the Treatment of Parkinson’s Disease.

Bernard B. Brodie Award in Drug Metabolism and Disposition

Kenneth Thummel PhD, FASPET

Kenneth Thummel PhD

The ASPET Division for Drug Metabolism and Disposition is pleased to award Dr. Kenneth Thummel from the University of Washington the 2022 Bernard B. Brodie Award in Drug Metabolism and Disposition.  This award was established to honor the fundamental contributions of Bernard B. Brodie in the field of drug metabolism and disposition. It recognizes outstanding original research contributions in drug metabolism and disposition, particularly those having a major impact on future research in the field.

Dr. Thummel is receiving this award in recognition for his pioneering research elucidating genetic, hormonal and environmental factors that contribute to interindividual differences in xenobiotic biotransformation. He pioneered research on first-pass metabolism in the intestine and co-discovered vitamin D-dependent regulation of CYP3A4. He established midazolam as the preferred in vivo probe for CYP3A4 and played a pivotal role in elucidating the genetic basis for CYP3A5 poor metabolizers.

Dr. Thummel is a professor of pharmaceutics in the School of Pharmacy at the University of Washington.  He received his PhD in pharmaceutical science from University of Washington and completed his postdoctoral training at the University of Connecticut Health Sciences Center.

In addition to Dr. Thummel’s research described above, his work also focuses on the gene x diet modifiers of drug response in Alaska Native and American Indian people. With colleagues at the University of Washington and other northwest and Alaska institutions, he established the first center of pharmacogenetic research for Native Americans.

Dr. Thummel is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and a Fellow of ASPET. He is a Past-President of ASPET and a member since 1998.

The award will be presented by the Division for Drug Metabolism and Disposition at the ASPET Annual Meeting at EB 2022 in Philadelphia on Monday, April 4, 2022 where Dr. Thummel will deliver a lecture titled Elucidating the Function of Intestinal CYP3A: A Journey of Discovery and Clinical Importance.

Division for Drug Metabolism and Disposition James R. Gillette Awards

Sara Shum
Shida Qiao and Sisi Feng

The James R. Gillette Awards are presented each year by the ASPET Division for Drug Metabolism and Disposition for two outstanding papers published in the previous year’s Drug Metabolism and Disposition.

The award recipient in the Pharmacokinetics/Drug Transporters category for 2021 is Sara Shum from the University of Washington for the paper titled "Predicting Maternal-Fetal Disposition of Fentanyl Following Intravenous and Epidural Administration Using Physiologically Based Pharmacokinetic Modeling"

The award recipients in the Drug Metabolism category for 2021 are co-first authors Shida Qiao from the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the University of Chinese Academy of Sciences and Sisi Feng from Shanghai Hexaell Biotech Co., Ltd. for the paper titled “Functional Proliferating Human Hepatocytes: In Vitro Hepatocyte Model for Drug Metabolism, Excretion, and Toxicity.”

The Gillette Awards will be presented by the division during the annual meeting on Monday, April 4 in Philadelphia where the awardees will present short talks on their research.

Division for Molecular Pharmacology Early Career Awards

Matthew Torres, PhD
Cheng Zhang, PhD

The ASPET Division for Molecular Pharmacology is pleased to award their 2022 Division for Molecular Pharmacology Early Career Awards to Drs. Matthew Torres from Georgia Institute of Technology and Cheng Zhang from the University of Pittsburgh. These awards recognize scholarly achievements of junior investigators early in their independent careers.

Matthew Torres, PhD

Dr. Matthew Torres is receiving this award in recognition of his innovative research that combines genetics, mass spectrometry, and cutting-edge bioinformatics to understand how post-translational modifications impact protein function and cell physiology, and also in recognition of his strong commitment to teaching, mentoring and service.

Dr. Torres is an Associate Professor of Biological Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology.  He received his PhD in biochemistry and completed his postdoctoral training at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The primary focus of Dr. Torres’s lab is to combine yeast genetics, mass spectrometry (MS) and bioinformatics to understand how post-translational modifications (PTMs) impact protein structure, function and cell behavior. His group studies how PTMs regulate G protein signaling pathways, with a current emphasis on the G protein gamma subunit. His lab also developed SAPH-ire (“Systematic Analysis of PTM Hotspots”), a bioinformatics tool that employs machine learning to prioritize PTMs important for protein function and provide recommendations for experimental analysis. Dr. Torres has been a member of ASPET since 2017.

The award will be presented by the Division for Molecular Pharmacology at the ASPET Annual Meeting at EB 2022 in Philadelphia on Monday, April 4, 2022 where Dr. Torres will deliver a lecture on his research titled From m/z to Gabg: Accessing the Collective Wisdom in Proteomics to Reveal Posttranslational Governors of G protein Signaling.

Cheng Zhang, PhDDr. Cheng Zhang is receiving this award in recognition of his pioneering work using protein X-ray crystallography and cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) to solve the structures of drug-bound G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) and GPCR signaling complexes and pave the way for future therapeutic discoveries.

Dr. Zhang is an associate professor of Pharmacology and Chemical Biology at the University of Pittsburgh, School of Medicine.  He received his PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at University of Science and Technology of China and completed his postdoctoral training at Stanford University.

Dr. Zhang studies structure and pharmacology of G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs). His group uses protein X-ray crystallography and cryo-EM to determine structures of GPCRs and GPCR signaling complexes with drugs and important tool compounds. Major research achievements of Dr. Zhang include the structural characterization of chemotactic GPCRs for peptide and lipid mediators, neuropeptide receptors for vasopressin and ghrelin, and dopamine receptors. His research is aimed to provide a comprehensive molecular understanding of GPCR signaling and pharmacology and use the structural information to develop novel therapeutics targeting GPCRs.  ASPET welcomed Dr. Zhang as a member in 2021.

The award will be presented by the Division for Molecular Pharmacology at the ASPET Annual Meeting at EB 2022 in Philadelphia on Monday, April 4, 2022 where Dr. Zhang will deliver a lecture on his research titled GPCR Structures Reveal New Insights into Receptor Pharmacology and Drug Development.

Division for Neuropharmacology Early Career Awards

Brandon Henderson, PhD
Erica Levitt, PhD, PharmD

The ASPET Division for Neuropharmacology is pleased to award their 2022 Division for Neuropharmacology Early Career Awards to Drs. Brandon Henderson from Marshall University and Erica Levitt from University of Florida. These awards recognize and honor young independent investigators working in neuropharmacology. 

Brandon Henderson, PhD

Dr. Brandon Henderson is receiving this award in recognition of his highly innovative studies on the impact of flavorants on nicotine reward and fundamental scientific scholarship on nicotinic receptor pharmacology/drug discovery as well as his strong commitment to mentoring and public outreach.   

Dr. Henderson is a tenure-track assistant professor at Marshall University Joan C Edwards School of Medicine in Huntington, West Virginia.  He received his PhD in Pharmacology at the Ohio State University and completed his postdoctoral training at California Institute of Technology.

In less than 5 years since starting his own independent research group at Marshall, he has successfully published 10 papers and one book chapter including 3 senior last author papers from his laboratory. Dr. Henderson has obtained 3 NIH grants thus far in his career including a R00, R21, and his first R01.  He is a reviewer for more than 20 journals and has also been a member of 7 NIH study sections. His work on how flavorants in electronic cigarettes enhance reward for vaporized nicotine is both seminal and timely.  Dr. Henderson has been a member of ASPET since 2016.

The award will be presented by the Division for Neuropharmacology at the ASPET Annual Meeting at EB 2022 in Philadelphia on Monday, April 4, 2022 and Dr. Henderson will deliver a lecture on his research titled Chemical Flavorants of E-cigarettes Alter Neurobiology to Promote Vaping-related Behaviors.

Dr. Erica Levitt

Dr. Erica Levitt is receiving this award in recognition of her highly impactful research on the mechanisms of opioid-induced respiratory depression in the Kölliker-Fuse nucleus as well as her outstanding record of opioid receptor scholarship and strong commitment to mentoring and service.  

Dr. Levitt is an assistant professor of pharmacology and therapeutics at the University of Florida, Gainesville.  She received her PhD in Pharmacology at the University of Michigan, completed her postdoctoral training at Oregon Health and Science University.

The primary research of Dr. Levitt’s laboratory uses electrophysiology and in vivo measurements of breathing to understand the neurophysiology underlying the control of breathing, especially in opioid-induced respiratory depression, which is the cause of death from opioid overdose. Her lab has discovered that respiratory controlling neurons in the pons are particularly important in opioid overdose and is currently investigating circuit-based mechanisms.  Dr. Levitt has been a member of ASPET since 2017.

The award will be presented by the Division for Neuropharmacology at the ASPET Annual Meeting at EB 2022 in Philadelphia on Monday, April 4, 2022 and Dr. Levitt will deliver a lecture on her research titled Brainstem Circuits Involved in Opioid-induced Respiratory Depression

Pharmacology Educator Awards

Lauren Aleksunes, PharmD, PhD, DABT
Sarah Lerchenfeldt, PharmD, BCPS
Monzurul Roni, PhD

The ASPET Division for Pharmacology Education is pleased to award their 2022 Pharmacology Educator Awards to Drs. Lauren Aleksunes from Rutgers University, Sarah Lerchenfeldt from Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine, and Monzurul Roni from the University of Illinois at Chicago. 

The primary goal of this award is to promote participation in the ASPET Annual Meeting by pharmacology educators and to foster career development in pharmacology education.

The awards will be presented by the Division for Pharmacology Education at their virtual Town Hall on Friday, March 4, 2022 from 4:30 pm - 5:30 pm Eastern Time and the awardees will participate at the ASPET Annual Meeting at EB 2022 in Philadelphia, April 2-5.

Lauren Aleksunes, PharmD, PhD, DABT

Dr. Lauren Aleksunes from Rutgers University is receiving this award in recognition of her outstanding research in pharmacology education and her superb teaching performance in the classroom.

Dr. Aleksunes is a Professor of Pharmacology and Toxicology at Rutgers University.  She received her PharmD and PhD in pharmacology and toxicology at the University of Connecticut and completed her postdoctoral training at the University of Kansas Medical Center.

Dr. Aleksunes is a board-certified toxicologist and registered pharmacist with expertise in translational pharmacology and toxicology. She joined Rutgers University in 2009 where her lab studies mechanisms of toxicity with a focus on how membrane transporters influence cellular responses to drugs and environmental chemicals. Their research addresses the impact of variation in transporter expression and function, due to life stage, genetics/epigenetics, diet, environment, and pre-existing disease, on susceptibility to chemical toxicity. Her research is currently funded by 3 R01 grants from NIEHS and NIGMS. Lauren is committed to the development of the next generation of pharmacologists and toxicologists where she teaches PharmD and PhD students. She serves as Director of the NIH T32 and R25 Toxicology training programs at Rutgers. As a clinician scientist, Lauren is also the Lead of Workforce Development for the NJ CTSA Program.  She has been a member of ASPET since 2010.

Dr. Sarah Lerchenfeldt

Dr. Sarah Lerchenfeldt from Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine (OUWB) is receiving this award in recognition of her outstanding abstract in pharmacology educational research and her creative aspects in pharmacology education.

Dr. Lerchenfeldt is an associate professor at OUWB. She received her PharmD at Ohio Northern University and completed her residency training at Harper University Hospital and Karmanos Cancer Center in Michigan.

In her previous career as a clinical pharmacy specialist, she worked closely with a multidisciplinary team to optimize patient care. In her current position at OUWB, Dr. Lerchenfeldt provides instruction in pharmacology throughout the curriculum and serves as co-director of the Hematology and Oncology course for first year medical students. She is a Team-Based Learning Collaborative Trainer-Consultant and is actively involved with many of the team-based learning activities throughout the program. Her scholarly interest is focused primarily on the theme of teamwork in health education, in which she has considerable interest in researching the value, impact, and effectiveness of the different components of team-based learning. She has been a member of ASPET since 2015.

Dr. Monzurul Roni

Dr. Monzurul Roni from the University of Illinois at Chicago is receiving this award in recognition of his outstanding abstract in pharmacology educational research and his exceptional teaching performance in the classroom.

Dr. Roni is an Assistant Professor of Pharmacology at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He received his PhD in Pharmaceutical Sciences (neuropharmacology) at South Dakota State University.

Dr. Roni has been teaching pharmacology to pharmacy and medical students since 2014 and he has significantly contributed to the curriculum development and assessment. He serves as one of the college-wide block leaders in the college of medicine.  Dr. Roni has received multiple ‘Professor of the Year’ awards and ‘Academic Excellence Award’ in recognition of his contribution. He has been a member of ASPET since 2010.

Division for Toxicology Career Award

Anumantha Kanthasamy, PhD

Anumantha Kanthasamy, PhD

The ASPET Division for Toxicology is pleased to award Dr. Anumantha Kanthasamy from the University of Georgia with the 2022 Division for Toxicology Career Award.  This award recognizes outstanding original research contributions to toxicology by an established investigator.

Dr. Kanthasamy is receiving this award in recognition of his long history of leadership and expertise in neurodegeneration, neuroinflammation, cell signaling, molecular neurotoxicology, protein aggregation and translational discovery.

Dr. Kanthasamy recently moved to the University of Georgia where he is a Professor and John H. “Johnny” Isakson Endowed Chair in Parkinson’s Disease and Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar in the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology as well as the Director of the Center for Brain Sciences and Neurodegenerative Disease.   He received his PhD in biochemistry at the University of Madras, India, and completed his postdoctoral training at Purdue University and a junior faculty position at the University of California, Irvine. He then spent 22 years on the faculty at Iowa State University including 8 years as department chair.

Dr. Kanthasamy has been working in neurotoxicology for over 25 years.  His research program has been continuously supported by NIH for more than 20 years, and he has authored more than 175 peer-reviewed research papers and book chapters.  He has nurtured several multidisciplinary research collaborations, has been appointed to the editorial boards of several major journals, and has served on many NIH review panels. Dr. Kanthasamy held numerous program leadership roles at ISU including as the founding director of the Iowa Center for Advanced Neurotoxicology (ICAN). Dr. Kanthasamy is an elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the Academy of Toxicological Sciences (ATS), and National Academy of Inventors (NAI).

Dr. Kanthasamy is not only a great researcher, but also a great mentor. His ability to motivate young scientists by encouraging them to attend national and international meetings, giving them independence to think on their own has produced multiple students who have been successful post their graduate life. His students have won awards at national meeting for their presentations and work. Many of his former students are successful PI's in places like Tufts and UC Irvine and in industries like Charles Rivers, Covance and J&J. His recent graduate students were able to secure postdoctoral positions at University of Pennsylvania, Harvard Medical School, and Johns Hopkins. 

Dr. Kanthasamy has been a member of ASEPT since 2004.

The award will be presented by the Division for Toxicology at the ASPET Annual Meeting at EB 2022 in Philadelphia on Monday, April 4, 2022 where Dr. Kanthasamy will deliver a lecture on his research titled Novel Mechanism-Derived Translational Discovery in Environmentally Linked Neurodegenerative Diseases.

Division for Toxicology Early Career Award

Phoebe Stapleton, PhD

Phoebe Stapleton, PhD

The ASPET Division for Toxicology is pleased to award Dr. Phoebe Stapleton from Rutgers University the 2022 Division for Toxicology Early Career Award. This award recognizes excellent original research by early career investigators in the area of toxicology.

Dr. Stapleton is receiving this award in recognition of her innovative and impactful contributions to the field of reproductive and developmental toxicology and her commitment to excellence in toxicology research.

Dr. Stapleton is a tenure-track Assistant Professor in the Pharmacology and Toxicology Department of the Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy at Rutgers University. She completed both her graduate and postdoctoral training at West Virginia University.

Her laboratory focuses on the cardiovascular implications of maternal exposure to nanomaterials during pregnancy, identifying the maternal, fetal, and offspring outcomes associated with these exposures. Most of her work has focused on inhalation of titanium dioxide nanoparticles, but recently her laboratory has begun to investigate toxicological outcomes associated with nanosized plastic particles.  Dr. Stapleton has published over 40 peer reviewed manuscripts and was recently awarded a NIEHS Outstanding New Environmental Scientist Award. She has been a member of ASPET since 2016.

The award will be presented by the Division for Toxicology at the ASPET Annual Meeting at EB 2022 in Philadelphia on Monday, April 4, 2022 where Dr. Stapleton will deliver a lecture on her research titled Can a Fetus be Affected by Aerosolized Particulates?

Division for Translational and Clinical Pharmacology Early Career Awards

Klarissa Jackson, PhD
Jeremy Prokop, PhD

The ASPET Division for Translational and Clinical Pharmacology is pleased to award their 2022 Division for Translational and Clinical Pharmacology Early Career Awards to Drs. Klarissa Jackson from University of North Carolina Eshelman School of Pharmacy and Jeremy Prokop from Michigan State University. These awards recognize excellence in translational and clinical pharmacology research that comes from early career scientists.

Klarissa Jackson, PhD

Dr. Klarissa Jackson is receiving this award in recognition of her translational research in drug metabolism/toxicology, focused specifically on individual variations in cytochrome P450 enzymes, that aims to elucidate the mechanisms of and risk factors for adverse drug reactions.

Dr. Jackson is an assistant professor in the Division of Pharmacotherapy and Experimental Therapeutics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  She received her PhD in Pharmacology at Vanderbilt University and completed her postdoctoral training at the University of Washington.

Dr. Jackson’s research interests focus on drug metabolism and toxicology to better understand the mechanisms of and risk factors for adverse drug reactions and improve drug safety. Her laboratory is currently investigating the roles of cytochrome P450 and non-P450 enzymes in the metabolism and toxicity of small molecule drugs used in targeted cancer therapy. She is interested in understanding the impact of variability in drug metabolism and disposition on individual risk for drug toxicity. The long-term goals of this research are to better predict and prevent serious adverse drug reactions and optimize drug therapy in diverse patient populations. Dr. Jackson has been a member of ASPET since 2013.

The award will be presented by the Division for Translational and Clinical Pharmacology at the ASPET Annual Meeting at EB 2022 in Philadelphia on Monday, April 4, 2022 where Dr. Jackson will deliver a lecture on her research tentatively titled Studies on the Role of Metabolic Activation in Tyrosine Kinase Inhibitor-Dependent Hepatotoxicity.

Dr. Jeremy Prokop

Dr. Jeremy Prokop is receiving this award in recognition of his work in integrative biosciences and precision medicine that uses computation tools to gain mechanistic insights from genomic data.

Dr. Prokop is an assistant professor of at Michigan State University College of Human Medicine. He received his PhD in Integrated Bioscience at the University of Akron and completed his postdoctoral training at the Medical College of Wisconsin and Hudson Alpha Institute for Biotechnology.

The primary goal of Dr. Prokop’s laboratory is to develop a precision genomics program in West Michigan. This program integrates advanced sequencing, bioinformatics, and human iPSCs to decipher mechanisms of genomic variants, using the data to optimize precision treatments for patients. However, during the COVID-19 pandemic his group pivoted their bioinformatics tools to expand precision medicine insights into the SARS-CoV-2 virus, how to optimize targeting of the viral proteins, and developing a precision blood transcriptome workflow that deconvolutes blood RNA-seq for gene, isoform, foreign RNA, cell free RNA, eQTLs, and the immune repertoire insights. Dr. Prokop has received funding from the American Heart Association, National Institutes of Health, Gerber Foundation, and the National Science Foundation.  ASPET welcomed Dr. Prokop as a member in 2021.

The award will be presented by the Division for Translational and Clinical Pharmacology at the ASPET Annual Meeting at EB 2022 in Philadelphia on Monday, April 4, 2022 and Dr. Prokop will deliver a lecture titled Precision Transcriptomics and Genomics to Inform Patient Treatment Options.

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Last Updated: February 23, 2022

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