Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology
Molecular and Cellular Biology; Neurobiology; Neuropharmacology
The core of my current research is ‘systems pharmacology‘, in which I am elucidating the biological function of the novel neuropeptide urotensin II (UII). The characterization of novel neuropeptide systems has been the topic of both my graduate studies (urotensin II; Clark et al., 2001, 2005; Huitron-Resendiz et al., 2005) and my second post-doctoral fellowship (neuropeptide S; Xu et al., 2004; Jüngling et al., 2008; Duangdao et al., 2009; Okamura et al., 2011; Clark et al., 2011). My ultimate research goal is to elucidate the endogenous function of the novel neuropeptide urotensin II. With my existing R00 grant from NIDA, I will establish whether activation of the UII receptor (UIIR) modulates reward behaviors.
In addition, I am currently investigating the nuances of urotensin II receptor signaling and the effects of naturally occurring variants within the coding regions. In these investigations I am furthering my expertise from training I received during my post-doctoral fellowships (Van Craenenbroeck et al., 2005; Clark et al., 2010; Gill et al., 2010). I believe that the parallel investigation of the receptor pharmacology and behavioral pharmacology will expedite the unraveling of the role of the UII system in human biology.