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Research Strategic Pillar

Dr. Randall Urban, VP and Chief Research Officer, has determined that UTMB research should be prioritized into six health communities. This researcher has received the following badge(s):

Research Interests

Areas of Research:  Neuropharmacology; drug discovery and translational research for neurological and psychiatric disorders; cell biology, biochemistry and pharmacology of G protein-coupled receptors. 

The main focus of our research is to understand the signal transduction of G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) and to identify and advance GPCR-targeted molecules for neurotherapeutic drug discovery.  GPCRs are the largest group of signaling proteins in the human genome and an estimated 35% of all marketed drugs act directly to modulate this receptor family.  Our primary focus is the neuropharmacology of dopamine, serotonin and novel orphan receptors that control the brain’s striatum and basal ganglia neuronal system.  GPCRs within the striatum mediate reward signals underlying the addictive effects of abused drugs as well as dysfunctions observed in movement disorders such as Parkinson's and Huntington's disease.  We apply a synergistic approach using cell/molecular, biochemical and systems pharmacology to reveal the mechanisms of GPCR signaling in cells, neurons and in the brain.  We also apply large scale screening technologies and medicinal chemistry to discover novel GPCR ligands and test compounds for their therapeutic potential in pre-clinical models of addiction and related neurological diseases.

We use a range of multidisciplinary approaches in our research including identification of GPCR signaling pathways using CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing and transcriptomics, measurement of GPCR signaling in neurons, drug discovery using high throughput screening platforms, microscopy and live cell imaging of GPCR trafficking and behavioral characterization of rodent models with altered components of GPCR signaling machinery.

Research Strategic Pillar Keywords

  • Brain Health

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