By Research Area

Animal Models of Substance Use Disorder/Addiction

Neurobiological Mechanisms, Potential Treatments, and Sex Differences

Cardiovascular / Respiratory Biology

We aim to understand the molecular and physiological basis of the heart, lung and blood diseases. The related study of neuronal mechanisms that regulate respiration and blood pressure provides an integrated view of these vital processes. This understanding is leveraged to improve the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of cardiovascular and respiratory diseases.

Cell Death

Cellular Physiology

Because novel approaches to drug development require a new and comprehensive understanding of cellular organization and communication, the mechanisms by which cells transmit signals within and among cells is an area of emphasis within the Department. The Department of Pharmacology at the University of Virginia has a distinguished scientific history in the study of cellular signaling processes (signal transduction); two recent Nobel Laureates honored for their work deciphering pathways of cellular signaling conducted this work in the Pharmacology Department at the University of Virginia. Today, faculty of the Department of Pharmacology bring to bear a wide range of scientific approaches and technical methods to address fundamental questions of cellular signaling related to neural transmission, hormone and growth factor signaling, cell cycle regulation, neoplasia and regulation of gene expression.

Chemical Biology

Combining the concepts and methods of biology, chemistry and other physical sciences often enables us to gain insight and manipulate biological systems with precision. We are using analytical and synthetic chemistry to tackle a variety of problems to probe and manipulate molecular mechanisms of various diseases.


Inflammation contributes to the pathology of various metabolic, cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases. We aim to understand the molecular, physiological and pathological mechanisms that connect the mediators of inflammation with the onset and progression of various diseases.


The ongoing epidemic of obesity and metabolic syndrome threatens to burden our healthcare system with unsustainable healthcare costs in the coming decades. We aim to understand and manipulate the molecular mechanisms that contribute to obesity and its associated diseases. This knowledge will contribute to novel pharmacological approaches to check the onset and progression of metabolic diseases.

Molecular and Systems Neurophysiology

Research in Molecular & Systems Neurophysiology at UVA focuses on the structure and function of neural circuits and systems in a multitude of behaviors and disease states including perception, feeding, drinking, social interactions, as well as diseases and disorders, such as breathing, drug addiction, post-traumatic stress disorder, eating disorders, epilepsy, and Alzheimer’s.

Researchers in this group study the neural mechanisms by which information, decisions, and actions are stored, passed along, and performed in the brain and greater CNS. We employ a highly multidisciplinary toolkit, including optogenetics, electrophysiology, multiphoton imaging, computational modeling, and developing the next generation of research tools, from gene therapies to sensor molecules.



Neuroscience has emerged as a highly multi-disciplinary science with enduring mysteries. We are exploring many aspects of this discipline at the level of molecules, cells and circuits. Using a variety of experimental approaches, we hope to improve our understanding of neurophysiology as well as neuropathology.