Department Overview and Welcome

Gary L. Johnson

The mission of the Department of Pharmacology is threefold: 1) to educate and train scientists and physicians in the discipline of pharmacology for the challenges of today and tomorrow, 2) to make discoveries in research that are relevant to medicine and the basic mechanisms underlying the causes of human disease, 3) to work with other scientists and physicians in an interdisciplinary approach to translate basic discovery into new treatments and cures of human disease.

Currently, the department has 23 primary faculty and 15 joint faculty involved in research, teaching and service. In addition, 26 research assistant professors, 29 postdoctoral fellows and 51 graduate students are the foundation of a highly energetic and interactive research environment within the department. Most of our faculty are also members of research centers at UNC including The Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, and the Centers for Alcohol, Neurosciences, Cardiovascular Biology, and Gene Therapy, and the Program in Molecular Therapeutics. Research highlights of each laboratory are detailed on the faculty pages of the website.

The Department of Pharmacology has ranked first or in the top tier in NIH funding since 2005 among all pharmacology departments in the country. Pharmacology has four endowed professorships in the department, which is unusual for a basic science department. Dr. Channing Der and Dr. Gary Johnson are distinguished Kenan Professors. Dr. Klaus Hahn is the Ronald Glenn Thurman Professor of Pharmacology, and Dr. Bryan Roth is an endowed professorship as the Director of the Program in Protein Therapeutics and Proteomics.

Research in the department is extremely strong in the areas of cell signaling, structural proteomics, oncogenes and tumorigenesis, neural biology and alcohol addiction. The department has international leaders in the study of G protein-coupled receptors, GTPases, integrins and cell adhesion, phospholipases, and tyrosine and serine/threonine protein kinases. In addition, the department is a leader in new methods of drug delivery, live cell fluorescence imaging, computational modeling of biological systems, animal models of human disease, designer transcription factors, and the emerging discipline of nanomedicine. The department is currently recruiting for a structural biologist in the areas of molecular therapeutics and/or membrane proteins to further strengthen our research program.

The Department of Pharmacology is housed in the Medical Genetics Building, a modern, state-of-the-art research facility.  In addition to Pharmacology, the Medical Genetics Building houses the Departments of Biochemistry & Biophysics, Genetics, and the Medicinal Chemistry and Pharmacogenomics Divisions of the School of Pharmacy. This creates an incredibly exciting research community all within one building for basic discovery in the chemical and biomedical sciences.

The Department of Pharmacology is committed to providing an outstanding training environment for graduate students and fellows. As chair, it is my promise to work with all in the department to continue to evolve our dynamic, cutting edge research and training programs. The Department of Pharmacology at UNC is a fun and exciting place for biomedical research and our goal is to lead in the discovery process to further our understanding of cellular systems relevant to the development of new therapeutics.