Steelman Symposium in Honor of Gary L. Johnson, Kenan Distinguished Professor, who was Chair of Pharmacology from 2003-2016 was held May 15, 2018.

Johnson Symposium Speakers Group Pic
Above photo (from L to R): Henrik Dohlman, Lynn Heasley, Amy Abell, James Duncan, Ellen Weiss, Nancy Johnson, Gary Johnson, Michael Czech, Shelley Earp, Ken Harden, Roger Davis and Paul Pilch.

Pharmacology held the Steelman Symposium Honoring Gary Johnson, Distinguished Kenan Professor, May 15, 2018. Dr. Johnson was Chair of Pharmacology from 2003-2016. Many former lab members attended the event which had seven invited speakers.

Invited speakers:

  • Roger J. Davis, PhD, FRS – Investigator, HHMI, Arthur Smith Chair & Professor, Program in Molecular Medicine, U. of Massachusetts Medical School
    Talk title: “Stress Signaling in the Mammary Epithelium”
  • James S. Duncan, PhD – Cancer Biology, Fox Chase Cancer Center
    Talk title: “Defining K-Ras mutation specific kinome signature and vulnerabilities in colorectal cancer”
  • Amy Abell, PhD – Biological Sciences, U. Memphis
    Talk title: “Epigenetic regulation of epithelial-mesenchymal transition in stem cells and Claudin-low breast cancer”
  • Michael P. Czech, PhD – Professor & Chair, Program in Molecular Medicine, U. of Massachusetts Medical School
    Talk title: “Adipocyte to neuron crosstalk to control systemic metabolism”
  • Ellen Weiss, PhD – Professor, Dept. of Cell Biology & Physiology, UNC
    Talk title: “A tale of two kinases and other stories”
  • Lynn Heasley, PhD – Professor & Chair, Dept. of Craniofacial Biology, U. of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus
    Talk title: “Finishing off the leftovers: Searching for druggable vulnerabilities in oncogene inhibitor-reprogrammed residual disease”
  • Shelton Earp, MD – Director, UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, Pharmacology, UNC
    Talk title: “Mer receptor tyrosine kinase: From discover to targeting in cancer cells and the innate immune system”

Opening remarks were made by T. Kendall Harden, PhD, Kenan Distinguished Professor Emeritus.

Closing remarks were made by Henrik G. Dohlman, Sanford Steelman Distinguished Professor and Chair of Pharmacology.

Gary became Chair of the Department of Pharmacology in 2003. He was named a Kenan Distinguished Professor at UNC in 2011, and he remains in this position after stepping down from the Chair position in 2016.

He has been a leader in research related to signal transduction for four decades. His studies on the biochemical action of cholera toxin provided some of the key insight leading to the discovery of heterotrimeric G proteins. His lab discovered that Ras and Src oncogenes as well as GPCRs activate the MAP kinase, ERK1/2, cloned a series of MAP3Ks, illustrated that MAP3Ks, MAP2Ks, and MAPKs exist in large signaling networks rather than in linear pathways, generated animal models, and applied these and in vitro models to define the roles of these proteins in cell proliferation, migration, and invasion.

Gary’s research has been at the forefront of understanding the function of MAPK networks in various aspects of human disease over the past two decades. His research group developed chemical proteomics methods for measurement of the functional state of essentially the entire kinome, and they have applied this technology together with next generation sequencing and chromatin epigenetics in groundbreaking work that ranges from addressing basic mechanistic questions to analyzing tumors from cancer patients undergoing drug treatment.

Gary’s research is characterized by its originality, depth, and rigor and has been published in over 320 papers that have been cited greater than 40,000 times. He is a dedicated and skillful mentor who has trained 22 graduate students and more than 50 postdoctoral fellows, many of whom have gone on to successful careers in academia and the pharmaceutical industry.

symposium agenda pdf

See more photos on our Facebook page.

Johnson Symposium JohnsonLab Group Pic
Above photo: Current and former Johnson Lab members with Gary and Nancy Johnson. Front row (L to R): Ellen Weiss, Steve Angus, Lisa Crose, Amy Abell, Lynn Heasley, Sara Hanna, Nancy Johnson, Sam Bevill, Evan Dubose, Adriana Beltran, Nicole Vincent-Jordan, and Cindy Knall. Back row (L to R) Marty Whittle, Mark Cronan, Jon Zawistowski, Bruce Cuevas, Tom Hilder, Spencer Gibson, James Duncan, Gary Johnson, Bryan Richardson, Tim Stuhlmiller, Danny Dhanasekaran, Brian Wadzinski, Felix Olivares-Quintero, Richard Vaillancourt, and Shoji Osawa.