The scope of research activities ranges from Cardiovascular Pharmacology and Physiology, and Signal Transduction to Medicinal Chemistry/Cancer Chemotherapy. Our award-winning faculty's research includes cardiovascular regulation, cell signaling, structural and cancer biology, and environmental toxicology.

For specifics about the current research in our labs, please visit lab web pages.

Cardiovascular Pharmacology and Physiology

Several internationally recognized members of the department are interested in the basis of tone in small blood vessels and its pharmacological modification. State of the art techniques are used to determine the role of circulating and endogenous chemical substances, innervation, intravascular pressure and flow on the level of active contraction of resistance arteries and venules. This tone is altered in many vascular disease states including hypertension, stroke and spasm. There is also an emphasis on the correlation of drug action and structure of the developing and mature vascular system and its innervation. Researchers use state-of-the-art techniques to explore the cellular aspects of smooth muscle function including regulation of ion channels in both the plasma membrane and in intracellular organelles. 

The department also houses the Totman Center for Cerebrovascular Research. Investigators study the physiology of human arteries where the vascular consequences of established risk factors are assessed. This effort is undertaken in collaboration with clinical faculty.

UVM is now home to a new Center of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) - The Vermont Center for Cardiovascular and Brain Health thanks to funding from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences.  Co-led by University Distinguished Professor and Chair of Pharmacology, Mark T. Nelson, Ph.D., and Professor of Medicine, Mary Cushman, M.D., M.Sc., the center will bring together junior and senior researchers across disciplines to determine the causes and suggest optimal treatments for cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death in the U.S., and neurovascular disease.

Our researchers are collaborating with European researchers taking a mechanistic approach to look at small vessel diseases (SVDs) to find targets for intervention.  By studying affected pathways they hope to exploit these mechanisms to prevent and treat stroke and dementia.  This international research SVDs@Target, is funded by the European Union.  Please visit to learn more about this partnership.

Signal Transduction

Understanding cell function at the level of intracellular signaling is also a focus of the department. Researchers use biochemistry, molecular biology and cell imaging to understand the mechanisms underlying essential functions within cells. Specific interests include regulation of gene transcription through protein translocation, mechanisms of kinase function and substrate specificity, and membrane receptor interactions between different cell types

Medicinal Chemistry/Cancer Chemotherapy

Researchers in the department also study the biochemical pharmacology, toxicology, and medicinal chemistry of experimental and established anticancer and antiviral drugs. Classes of drugs investigated include complex quinones, platinum complexes, anthracyclines, and heterocyclic analogues of normal metabolites. A strong interaction exists with scientists in the Department of Chemistry who synthesize new anticancer drugs.

*For more information on specific research interests see our Lab sites.