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Vanderbilt-Meharry Annual Pharmacology Retreat








Each Fall, the department hosts a retreat giving students & postdoctoral fellows the opportunity to present their future research plans in a 10-minute presentation.  The retreat is an important component of the Pharmacology Department and the Ph.D. program.  It has been a joint Vanderbilt-Meharry venture for almost 20 years and is a successful continuation of our efforts to foster the alliance that has developed over the years between the two institutions.

Since 2006 our graduate students have organized practically every aspect of the retreat such as identifying and inviting the keynote speaker (usually an alum of our pharmacology program), organizing competitions for “Best Talk” awards, and developing thematic programs.

First-year student presentations are developed to explain a research problem, its importance, and what has been learned to date.  The students are reminded that the majority of the presentation is to explain what they want to accomplish or learn in the coming year and what strategies they will employ.  This emphasis on the future tense encourages substantial input, discussion, and critical consideration of the student’s project.  Furthermore, by learning the methodologies being established in different laboratories, students can readily learn from one another.  Often collaborations emerge at the retreat and this scientific exchange has fostered enhanced productivity of students and mentors alike.

2020 Pharmacology  (Virtual) Retreat

Friday, October 16, 2019

Retreat Booklet

Welcome Remarks

  • 8:30 am – 8:35 am  Ege Kavalali (Professor & Acting Chair, Department of Pharmacology. William Stokes Chair In Experimental Therapeutics)

Oral Session I – First Year Presentations

  • 8:35 am – 8:50 am Amy Stark/Penn Lab – “Targeted Prostanoid Inhibition as an Anti-Inflammatory Therapy for Diabetic Retinopathy”
  • 8:50 am – 8:55 am Break

Oral Session II Trainee selected talks

  • 8:55 am – 9:20 am Jordan Brown/Winder Lab –  “Alpha2a-adrenergic receptors regulate a neuronal ensemble in the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BNST)” 
  • 9:20 am – 9:25 am Break
  • 9:25 am – 9:50 am Jennifer Zachry/Calipari Lab – ”Acumbal D1 and D2 medium spiny neurons control distinct learning parameters in complex behavior”
  • 9:50 am – 9:55 am Break
  • 9:55 am – 10:20 am Benem-Orom Davids/Dash Lab – “Host Three Prime Repair Exonuclease 1 Enhances HIV-1 Integration by Preferentially Degrading Unprocessed Viral DNA Ends”
  • 10:20 am – 10:25 am Break

Student Committees

  • 10:25 am – 10:55 am Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee
  • 11:00 am – 11:30 am Wellness Committee

Poster Session – 11:30 am – 1:00 pm (Limit of 24 people/room)

Catacomb Presentation time Title
Breanne Gibson 11:30-12:15 PM The time-dependent role of plasmin in muscle repair and new considerations for antifibrinolytic drug administration following trauma and surgery
Matt Wleklinski 11:30-12:15 PM Autosomal-dominant Casq2-K180R causes CPVT by a different mechanism than autosomal-recessive Casq2 mutations
Mabel Seto 11:30-12:15 PM Leveraging predicted gene expression data for recapitulation of gene co-expression network analysis associations with AD pathology and cognitive decline
Laura Geben 11:30-12:15 PM Mapping the Time Course of mTORC1-Driven Tumorigenesis in the Developing Brain
Joe Balsamo 12:15-1:00 PM Phenotypic screening of microbial extracts informs natural product isolation for translational applications.
Mark Crowder 12:15-1:00 PM Investigating the role of Protein Kinase D1 (Prkd1) in beta-adrenergic receptor stimulated brown fat function and adipose tissue browning
Christian Egly 12:15-1:00 PM Discovering FDA-approved drugs that rescue trafficking-deficient KV11.1 channel variants in Long QT Syndrome type 2
Jamal Bryant 12:15-1:00 PM DYRK2 enhances Wnt signaling activation through phosphorylation of LRP6


Snowy Mountain Presentation time Title
Kensey Bergdorf 11:30-12:15 PM Pyrvinium as a Potential Therapeutic for Aggressive Thyroid Cancer
Rebecca Weiner 11:30-12:15 PM CSF sTREM2 as a predictor of tau- and cerebrovascular-related neurodegeneration
Ben Coleman 11:30-12:15 PM Kappa opioid receptor diminishes feedforward drive onto nucleus accumbens core fast-spiking interneurons
Brynna Eisele 11:30-12:15 PM Investigation of a mutation in bisphosphate nucleotidase 2 (BPNT2) which underlies an autosomal recessive chondrodysplasia
Jason Russell 12:15-1:00 PM Circadian Rhythm-Dependent Effects of the M1 Muscarinic Acetylcholine Receptor Positive Allosteric Modulator VU0486846 on Cognition, Sleep Wake Architecture and quantitative EEG
Nathan Winters 12:15-1:00 PM Endocannabinoid Modulation of Synaptic Transmission in the Lateral Habenula
Chris Hofmann 12:15-1:00 PM Modulation of mGlu4 Function by RNA Editing
Laura Teal 12:15-1:00 PM M5 negative allosteric modulators attenuate response to oxycodone in rats


Halloween House Presentation time Title
Kayla Shumate 11:30-12:15 PM CAPS1 RNA Editing Selectivity Mediates Dopamine Neurotransmission in the Dorsal Striatum
Bretton P. Nabit 11:30-12:15 PM mGlu8 receptor signaling within the extended amygdala regulates stress-sensitive circuits and behaviors
Sandra Berndt 11:30-12:15 PM Arrestin-2 and -3 signaling antonyms for SH3 domains of Src family kinases?
Matthew Murphy 11:30-12:15 PM Lnk-/- Mice Represent a Novel Model of Inflammation-mediated Atrial Fibrillation
Sheryl Anne Vermudez 12:15-1:00 PM Investigating the effects of genetically increasing MECP2 dosage in typical and atypical Rett syndrome
Matt Jenkins 12:15-1:00 PM Investigating the role of inflammatory signals in TET2 deficient bone marrow function
Kennady Bullock 12:15-1:00 PM Modulation of NFkB signaling in macrophages for the prevention and treatment of breast cancer metastases