Department of Pharmacology and Physiology

The Saint Louis University Department of Pharmacology and Physiology has achieved national recognition in graduate education and research.

Since 1985, we have awarded more than 73 Ph.Ds. In addition, members of the department have mentored Ph.D students in the areas of cell and molecular biology, biology and pathology. Many of our alumni have prominent positions in academia, government and industry.

We have an excellent success record in obtaining funding from recognized agencies such as the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The NIH has awarded the department with its prestigious and highly competitive training grants, which are awarded to only a few programs nationwide each year and indicate the high quality of our program.

Graduate Program in Pharmacology and Physiology

Students may enter our graduate program in pharmacology and physiology in one of three ways:

  1. After successfully completing the SLU School of Medicine’s one-year core graduate program in biomedical sciences
  2. Directly (For advanced students — those with M.S. degrees or experience at other institutions)
  3. As dual-degree M.D./Ph.D. students

Recent Pharmacology and Physiology Grants

Daniela Salvemini, Ph.D. was awarded a grant from the National Institutes of Health and the National Institute on Drug Abuse grant for research into the role of peroxynitrite in morphine hyperalgesia and tolerance.

Opioid drugs such as morphine are the most effective analgesics for treating acute and severe chronic pain. Their pain-relieving action, however, is often diminished during chronic administration, necessitating dose escalation that reduces quality of life for the patient.

Salvemini’s work will help elucidate the mechanisms and pathways in which the toxic by-product of superoxide and nitric oxide, peroxynitrite, negatively impacts opioid-induced analgesia. The outcome of this research will provide a novel mechanistic rationale for development of potent peroxynitrite-targeted therapies to maintain adequate pain relief during repetitive dosing for chronic pain, without engendering tolerance or unacceptable side-effects, thus addressing a large unmet medical need with major socioeconomic consequences.

Recent Honors and Awards

Willis K. Samson Ph.D., D.Sc., has been elected by the membership of the American Physiological Society to serve on its governing council and to serve as editor-in-chief of the American Journal of Physiology.