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Basic Science Research

Basic science research faculty within the VCU School of Medicine are organized into the following departments:

While PhD degrees are primarily awarded by these departments, medical research at VCU is interdisciplinary and include faculty from multiple departments. Major areas of basic science research include:

  • Addiction and Abuse of Drugs, Alcohol, and Tobacco

Strengths are in behavioral and molecular studies of central nervous system agonists and antagonists of receptors for cannabinoids, opiates, nicotine and alcohol as well as the identification of genes involved in addiction.

PhD degrees are awarded in Pharmacology and Toxicology and Human and Molecular Genetics. Faculty doing research in this area can also be found in the Department of Psychiatry.

  • Allergy and Immunology

Strengths are in immediate hypersensitivity, mast cell biology, tumor immunology, T-cell biology, and cytokine signaling.

PhD degrees are awarded in Microbiology and Immunology and Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. Faculty doing research in this area can also be found in the Department of Internal Medicine and the Department of Surgery.

  • Cancer Biology

Strengths are in therapy of hematologic malignancies, cell signaling, cell response to radiation, epigenetic control of hematologic processes, cancer immunology, and cancer genomics.

PhD degrees are awarded in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Microbiology and Immunology, Pharmacology and Toxicology, Human and Molecular Genetics, and Medical Physics. Faculty doing research in this area can also be found in the Departments of Internal Medicine, Radiation Oncology, Surgery, and Pathology.

  • Cell and Molecular Signaling

Strengths are in cell signaling in cancer and bacterial cells and, in particular, in the role of lipids in cell signaling.

PhD degrees are awarded in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Microbiology and Immunology, Pharmacology and Toxicology, and Physiology and Biophysics. Faculty doing research in this area can also be found in the Department of Internal Medicine and the Department of Radiation Oncology.

  • Gastrointestinal Physiology and Hepatology

Strengths include the enteric nervous system, enteric ion channels, hepatic and gut cholesterol metabolism, and hepatic steatosis.

PhD degrees are awarded in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Microbiology and Immunology, Pharmacology and Toxicology, and Physiology and Biophysics. Faculty doing research in this area can also be found in the Department of Internal Medicine.

  • Molecular Biology and Genetics

The Molecular Biology and Genetics curriculum is an integrated interdisciplinary program of study which merges coursework from various graduate programs in order to provide students with a strong foundation in biochemistry, cell biology, and molecular genetics.

Participating faculty can be found in the Departments of Anatomy and Neurobiology, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Human and Molecular Genetics, Microbiology and Immunology, Pharmacology and Toxicology, and Physiology and Biophysics.

  • Molecular Cardiology and Vascular Disease

Strengths include study of cardiac ion channels, vascular and tissue oxygen exchange, vascular signaling mechanisms in normal and diseased endothelium and mechanism and treatment of myocardial ischemia/reperfusion injury.

PhD degrees are awarded in Physiology and Biophysics, Pharmacology and Toxicology, and Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. Faculty doing research in this area can also be found in the Departments of Internal Medicine, Emergency Medicine, and Surgery.

  • Neuroscience

Strengths in this area include glial cell biology, neural plasticity and circuits, traumatic brain injury, substances of abuse, cellular and genetic basis of behavior and neurological disease, and neurodegeneration.

PhD degrees are awarded through the interdepartmental Neuroscience PhD Program. Participating faculty can be found in the Departments of Anatomy and Neurobiology, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Human and Molecular Genetics, Pharmacology and Toxicology, Physiology and Biophysics, Psychiatry, Neurology, and Neurosurgery.

  • Pathogenic Microbiology and Vaccinology

Strengths are in the pathogenesis of infectious diseases, staphylococcal infections, vaccine development and evaluation, microbial genomics and the resistance of pathogens to antiinfective agents.

PhD degrees are awarded in Microbiology and Immunology. Faculty doing research in this area can also be found in the Department of Internal Medicine and the Department of Pediatrics.

  • Reproductive Biology

Strengths include the molecular basis of preeclampsia, regulation of steroidogenesis, the genetic basis of polycystic ovary syndrome, mechanisms of fetal membrane rupture, the molecular basis of sperm motility and folliculogenesis.

PhD degrees are awarded in Physiology and Biophysics, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, and Human and Molecular Genetics. Faculty doing research in this area can also be found in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and the Department of Internal Medicine.