Pharmacology & Nutritional Science Research

The Department of Pharmacology and Nutritional Sciences faculty are trained in the individual disciplines of pharmacology and/or nutritional sciences, with research emphases in the areas of brain cognition and aging, cancer, cardiovascular and metabolic diseases (e.g., obesity, diabetes). This multidisciplinary and collaborative research environment focuses on the development of nutritionally-based concepts and pharmacologic entities for the treatment of chronic diseases. Since nearly every chronic disease is prevented and/or treated by a combination of lifestyle (e.g., nutrition) and pharmacologically-based therapies, the department's unique combination of research capabilities and expertise in these disciplines promises to have an immense impact on addressing chronic disease processes.

Usman Hamid

I am a senior at the University of Kentucky. I am pursuing a Biology and Psychology dual degree on a pre-medical track. I am currently applying to medical school and hope to matriculate in the Fall 2020 class. As an MD, I plan to be involved with both the clinical and research aspects of healthcare. Most of my laboratory research has occurred in Dr. Michael Bardo's laboratory at the UK Department of Psychology, where I have previously studied the effects of social impoverishment on opioid abuse and transcription factor expression in rats. I am currently studying how adolescent binge alcohol exposure is associated with adult alcohol and nicotine co-use in rats. Through the 2019 Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) Program, I am researching in Dr. Sanda Despa's laboratory at the UK College of Medicine. I am studying type 2 diabetes in rats and its association with ion transport and oxidative stress in the mitochondria of cardiac muscle cells. I am investigating a potential drug, Kaempferol, that can reduce this oxidative stress by increasing mitochondrial calcium levels.

Rae Goins

I am currently an undergraduate at the University of Kentucky pursuing a degree in Human Nutrition while minoring in Gender and Women's Studies. After graduating in May of 2020, I plan to pursue a Master's of Public Health, either concentrating in the field of epidemiology or public health nutrition. In my future career, I hope to contribute to lessening the obesity epidemic and related chronic disease states while improving health overall at the population level. Currently through the SURF program, I am working under the guidance of Dr. Hollie Swanson exploring the possible impacts of different e-cigarette vapor liquids on certain pathways that may contribute to inflammation and oxidative stress. There is currently not much known about e-cigarette vapor liquids and their constituents in terms of effects, so this is an exciting opportunity for me.

Joshua Preston


I began undergraduate research in the first semester of my freshman year at UK in Dr. Kevin Pearson’s lab. I entered college set on going to medical school, but my undergraduate research experience quickly changed my career direction. After being involved with undergraduate research for three years in college, I aspire to become a physician-scientist. My major undergraduate research projects have focused on how pregnancy exposure to various toxins, diets, or behaviors (such as smoking, exercise, polychlorinated biphenyls, nicotine) can impact offspring risk for long term disease risk. My undergraduate research career has afforded me opportunities to conduct research at UK in the summers via the Bucks for Brains grant and the Summer Undergraduate Research and Creativity Grants sponsored by the office of undergraduate research, and also at the NIH National Institute on Aging in Baltimore, MD. I have also presented my research at national conferences in San Antonio, TX; Philadelphia, PA; Memphis, TN; and internationally in Bregenz, Austria. I graduated in December 2018, and I am currently working as a research technician in the Pearson laboratory in the UK College of Medicine. Moreover, I have published my research in scientific journals and have been awarded nationally competitive awards for my research experience. Undergraduate research at the University of Kentucky has granted me many wonderful opportunities and has trained me in the skills that I will need to succeed as a graduate student and future physician-scientist. Most importantly, undergraduate research has actualized concepts which I learn in the classroom, such that these concepts are reinforced and illustrated to me in the lab and do not simply remain an “idea.” As a college student, participating in undergraduate research is a critical experience if you desire to see classroom concepts demonstrated in real life, and I recommend participating in research in the UK COM to any student who aspires to pursue a future career in medicine and biomedical science. 

Publications: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29324453,

https://physoc.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1113/EP087307

Interested in a Minor?

The Department of Pharmacology and Nutritional Sciences is pleased to host this unique educational opportunity. A minor in Pharmacology provides a rare and distinctive educational program that complements a wide range of majors across campus including Biology, Chemistry, Psychology, Neuroscience, Agricultural and Biomedical technology, Nursing, Health Sciences, Kinesiology, Marketing, and others. 

Pharmacology is a branch of medicine and biology that seeks to understand the development and the effects of drugs from both natural and synthesized sources. 

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