Neurobiologist and associate professor from the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Illinois Chicago will lead the Center for Clinical Pharmacology, a joint venture between Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and University of Health Sciences and Pharmacy in St. Louis (UHSP)
Amynah Pradhan, PhD, an award-winning neuroscientist, has been appointed director of the Center for Clinical Pharmacology (CCP), effective September 1, 2022. Dr. Pradhan joins the CCP from the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where she has been faculty since 2013 and associate professor with tenure since 2019. At UIC, Dr. Pradhan has also served as Director of the Graduate Program in Neuroscience since 2019.
As Center Director, Dr. Pradhan will lead the strategic planning efforts for all research growth and development, provide mentorship for trainees and faculty, foster a diverse and inclusive environment to stimulate new and exciting research endeavors, and continue to grow inter-institutional partnerships and collaborations as well as national recognition for the Center.
“We are fortunate to have recruited a leader of Dr. Pradhan’s caliber to guide our cutting-edge Center for Clinical Pharmacology,” said Michael S. Avidan, MBBCh, the Dr. Seymour and Rose T. Brown Professor and head of the Department of Anesthesiology. “She is truly a world-class scientist who has a compelling vision for the Center, and is committed to maximizing the success and impact of all her dedicated Center colleagues, and to building trans-disciplinary collaborations between UHSP and Washington University School of Medicine.”
Dr. Pradhan attended McGill University in Montreal, Canada, for her undergraduate and graduate studies. She received her PhD in 2005 from the Department of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, where she studied the behaviorally relevant populations of mu and delta opioid receptors and interactions between them. Dr. Pradhan subsequently joined AstraZeneca Montreal for a 1-year postdoctoral fellowship, where she helped characterize a novel protein involved with pain processing. In 2006, she joined Dr. Brigitte Kiefer’s laboratory at the Institut de Génétique et de Biologie Moléculaire et Cellulaire (IGBMC) in Strasbourg, France. Here, she pursued her interest in the behavioral consequences of delta opioid receptor trafficking and signaling. Prior to joining the faculty at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Dr. Pradhan was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California Los Angeles, where she studied the ligand-specific recruitment of arrestins to the delta opioid receptor. She also developed an interest in the role of opioid receptors in migraine, and identified the delta opioid receptor as a novel therapeutic target for this disorder. She also developed one of the first preclinical models of chronic migraine, which is now regularly used as a screening tool in academic and industry labs.
Dr. Pradhan’s current research is centered on the regulation of headache-related symptoms by delta opioid receptors and the maintenance of chronic pain states by cytoarchitectural dynamics. Her lab continues to develop novel animal models of headache disorders, including post-traumatic and medication overuse headache; and to explore the role of pro-migraine neuropeptides in increased susceptibility to theses conditions. A further goal of the lab is to examine the mechanisms underlying opioid induced hyperalgesia and the dysregulation of pro-nociceptive neuropeptides in this disorder. Dr. Pradhan has published more than 50 peer-reviewed papers and is invited both nationally and internationally to speak about her work.
“Over the past seven years, the Center for Clinical Pharmacology has played a key role in helping UHSP advance its research agenda,” said David D. Allen, RPh, Ph.D., president of UHSP. “It’s incredible to see someone as accomplished as Dr. Pradhan coming on board to lead the Center, and I’m excited to see what amazing discoveries our Center researchers will be able to achieve under her direction.”
The Center, established in 2015, marked the first institutional-level partnership between Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and University of Health Sciences and Pharmacy in St. Louis. The Center’s mission is aimed at improving the therapeutic use of drugs and diagnostics to increase their clinical effectiveness and therapeutic outcomes, as well as to discover and develop new therapeutics. The CCP brings together researchers and resources to engage in translational inquiry to find better, safer and more effective ways to use prescription medications to improve health.
Dr. Pradhan will take over the role of director from Alex S. Evers, M.D., the Henry E. Mallinckrodt Professor of Anesthesiology, one of the founders and current Interim Director of the CCP. “We are grateful to Dr. Evers for filling in as the Interim Director while we conducted our search. We are indebted to him for his leadership and service,” says Dr. Avidan.
Dr. Pradhan is a standing member on the NIH Molecular Cellular Neuropharmacology study section. She also serves as the Chief Information Officer for the International Narcotics Research Conference, chair the American Headache Society (AHS) Annual Scientific Meeting Program committee, and co-chair of the AHS Research committee. She has received several honors and awards, including The National Headache Foundation Lectureship Award, the INRC Young Investigator Award, and the Cephalalgia Award from the International Headache Society.
“I am very excited to be working with all of the incredible faculty, trainees, and staff in the CCP, and building upon its existing successes to raise the Center’s profile further and expand its reach,” says Dr. Pradhan.
Established in August 2015, the Center for Clinical Pharmacology is a partnership between University of Health Sciences and Pharmacy in St. Louis and the Department of Anesthesiology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. The center continues to diversify with faculty investigators currently engaged in a variety of research areas. Click here to learn more.