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Our students score significantly higher than the national average on NAPLEX, MPJE, and match rate for residencies. Interprofessional education. Top academic medical center. Beautiful and historic Charleston.

MUSC College of Pharmacy students in white coats

Drug Discovery & Biomedical Sciences

The Department of Drug Discovery and Biomedical Sciences (DDBS) provides training in the basic sciences to professional (Pharm.D.) and graduate students (Ph.D.). Training provides fundamentals in the health sciences including; biochemistry, cell and molecular biology, pharmacology, oncology, and neuroscience. Research training in DDBS encompasses the understanding of disease mechanisms, drug action, and toxicity, the design and development of new pharmaceutical agents, and the identification of new drug targets. Graduates of the program (Pharm.D./Ph.D. or Ph.D.) can pursue diverse and exciting career opportunities in academia, pharmaceutical, and biotechnology companies, or with government agencies. DDBS has 14 faculty members. 

Research efforts in DDBS include the following areas: chemical biology/medicinal chemistry, translational cancer therapeutics, mitochondrial biology, cell death, injury and regeneration, pharmacogenomics, targeted therapeutics, pharmacology, neuroscience, and personalized medicine.

Graduate Program

The Doctor of Philosophy degree is considered the mark of highest achievement in preparation for creative scholarship and research. It is the highest degree conferred by our universities and, by nature and tradition, is a research degree.

Doctor of Philosophy Program Objectives and Requirements

Research Centers & Initiatives

The Center for Cell Death, Injury, & Regeneration

The Center for Cell Death, Injury, & Regeneration was established in 2007 and is headed by John J. Lemasters. The center provides imaging facility through the use of six confocal and multiphoton microscopes which are also a part of the Hollings Cell and Molecular Imaging Facility. The center also is home to a multiwell plate reader and Seahorse Bioscience facility. Anna-Liisa Nieminen is co-director of the imaging facility.

In addition the center also houses imaging workstations, surgery benches, and tissue culture hoods for specimen preparation and data analysis.

Center for Cancer Drug Discovery

The Center for Cancer Drug Discovery provides mechanisms for target identification and generation of lead compounds in the drug discovery process, thus creating a productive interface between academics and the biotechnology/pharmaceutical industries.

Medication Safety

The Doris Lesvkoff Meddin Medication Safety Education Program is an education and outreach program designed to help reduce adverse drug effects by disseminating current and emerging knowledge about ADEs to Health care professionals and the general public.

Endowed Chairs

Dr. John J. Lemasters

GlaxoSmithKline Distinguished Endowed Chair at MUSC, CoEE in Cancer Drug Discovery

Lemasters is a pioneer of techniques that allow scientists to see what happens inside an individual cell during reoxygenation - the restoration of oxygen to an organ following oxygen deprivation, which sometimes occurs following a heart attack or stroke. The process of redistributing oxygen to an organ can be stressful on tissue, leading to possible trauma, and even cell death. Lemasters specializes in a kind of microscopy that allows scientists to view slices of an individual cell, much like CAT or MRI scans complement the more traditional X-ray by allowing doctors to view the body in layers. Other applications for Lemasters’ work include understanding the mechanisms through which the liver is injured by chronic alcohol use and donated organs are damaged while being held for transplant surgery. Lemasters is director of the Center for Cell Death, Injury, and Regeneration. The Center for Cell Death, Injury, and Regeneration was established in 2006 and provides imaging facility through the use of five confocal microscopes which are also a part of the Hollings Cell and Molecular Imaging Facility. The center also is home to a multiwell plate reader. Ongoing projects in the center’s laboratory using the microscopes include Intravital Imaging of Liver Function using Multiphoton Microscopy, Autophagy/Mitophagy, Mitochondrial Permeability Transition (MPT) and Luminescence Lifetime Imaging Microscopy.

Dr. Patrick Woster

Endowed Chair in Medicinal Chemistry

Woster is one of the nation's leading cancer drug researchers and is working to develop drugs that turn specific genes on or off in tumor cells, a process known as epigenetic modulation that can make anti-tumor medications more effective. In addition, he and his team are working to discover new treatments for diseases such as malaria and other parasitic illnesses. Woster holds eight patents based on compounds he has synthesized. His work could have a notable impact on quality of life in South Carolina by leading to improvements in both the physical well-being of cancer patients and in the economic health of the state through the creation of new companies and new job opportunities. As an example, he and his team recently made some discoveries in epigenetics – changes in gene expression that are not mediated through changing the actual sequence of DNA – including an enzyme that helps control the process of gene expression. They then discovered some compounds that inhibit the enzyme and cause tumor cells to re-express tumor-suppressant proteins, thus essentially converting a tumor cell back into a normal, more easily treated cell.

Dr. Mark Hamann

Charles & Carol Cooper Endowed Chair

Mark Hamann is the Charles and Carol Cooper Chair in Pharmacy Endowed SmartState Chair in the Cancer Drug Discovery Center of Economic Excellence. His team looks at the role of natural products in the discovery and development of therapeutics. It focuses on the discovery and development of new treatments for drug resistant cancer and infectious diseases from natural product prototypes. His group has identified potential new and innovative solutions to pancreatic cancer, leukemia, breast, and lung cancer as well as MRSA and depression.

DDBS Recent Publications

  • Azarashvili, T., Krestinina, O., Baburina, Y., Odinokova, I., Grachev, D., Papadopoulos, V., Akatov, V., Lemasters, J. J., and Reiser, G. (2015) Combined effect of G3139 and TSPO ligands on Ca(2+)-induced permeability transition in rat brain mitochondria. Arch. Biochem. Biophys. 587, 70-77
  • Baarine, M., Beeson, C., Singh, A., and Singh, I. (2015) ABCD1 deletion-induced mitochondrial dysfunction is corrected by SAHA: implication for adrenoleukodystrophy. J. Neurochem. 133, 380-396
  • Belosludtsev, K. N., Belosludtseva, N. V., Agafonov, A. V., Penkov, N. V., Samartsev, V. N., Lemasters, J. J., and Mironova, G.D. (2015) Effect of surface-potential modulators on the opening of lipid pores in liposomal and mitochondrial inner membranes induced by palmitate and calcium ions. Biochim. Biophys. Acta 1848, 2200-2205
  • Bestman, J. E., Stackley, K. D., Rahn, J. J., Williamson, T. J., and Chan, S. S. (2015) The cellular and molecular progression of mitochondrial dysfunction induced by 2,4-dinitrophenol in developing zebrafish embryos. Differentiation; Research in Biological Diversity 89, 51-69
  • Bohovych, I., Fernandez, M. R., Rahn, J. J., Stackley, K. D., Bestman, J. E., Anandhan, A., Franco, R., Claypool, S. M., Lewis, R.E., Chan, S. S., and Khalimonchuk, O. (2015) Metalloprotease OMA1 Fine-tunes Mitochondrial Bioenergetic Function and Respiratory Supercomplex Stability. Sci. Rep. 5, 13989
  • Chaturvedi, R., de Sablet, T., Asim, M., Piazuelo, M. B., Barry, D. P., Verriere, T. G., Sierra, J. C., Hardbower, D. M., Delgado, A.G., Schneider, B. G., Israel, D. A., Romero-Gallo, J., Nagy, T. A., Morgan, D. R., Murray-Stewart, T., Bravo, L. E., Peek, R. M., Jr., Fox, J. G., Woster, P. M., Casero, R. A., Jr., Correa, P., and Wilson, K. T. (2015) Increased Helicobacter pylori-associated gastric cancer risk in the Andean region of Colombia is mediated by spermine oxidase. Oncogene 34, 3429-3440
  • Chatwichien, J., Basu, S., Murphy, M. E., Hamann, M. T., and Winkler, J. D. (2015) Design, Synthesis and Biological Evaluationof beta-Carboline Dimers Based on the Structure of Neokauluamine. Tet. Lett. 56, 3515-3517
  • Conway, S. J., Woster, P. M., Shen, J.-K., Georg, G., and Wang, S. (2015) Epigenetics: Novel therapeutics targeting epigenetics. J. Med. Chem. 58, 523-524
  • Cunningham, K. F., Beeson, G. C., Beeson, C. C., Baicu, C. F., Zile, M. R., and McDermott, P. J. (2015) Estrogen-Related Receptor alpha (ERRalpha) is required for adaptive increases in PGC-1 isoform expression during electrically stimulated contraction of adult cardiomyocytes in sustained hypoxic conditions. Int'l. J. Cardiology 187, 393-400
  • Galluzzi, L., Bravo-San Pedro, J. M., Vitale, I., Aaronson, S. A., Abrams, J. M., Adam, D., Alnemri, E. S., Altucci, L., Andrews, D., Annicchiarico-Petruzzelli, M., Baehrecke, E. H., Bazan, N. G., Bertrand, M. J., Bianchi, K., Blagosklonny, M. V., Blomgren, K., Borner, C., Bredesen, D. E., Brenner, C., Campanella, M., Candi, E., Cecconi, F., Chan, F. K., Chandel, N. S., Cheng, E. H., Chipuk, J. E., Cidlowski, J. A., Ciechanover, A., Dawson, T. M., Dawson, V. L., De Laurenzi, V., De Maria, R., Debatin, K. M., Di Daniele, N., Dixit, V. M., Dynlacht, B. D., El-Deiry, W. S., Fimia, G. M., Flavell, R. A., Fulda, S., Garrido, C., Gougeon, M. L., Green, D. R., Gronemeyer, H., Hajnoczky, G., Hardwick, J. M., Hengartner, M. O., Ichijo, H., Joseph, B., Jost, P. J., Kaufmann, T., Kepp, O., Klionsky, D. J., Knight, R. A., Kumar, S., Lemasters, J. J., Levine, B., Linkermann, A., Lipton, S. A., Lockshin, R. A., Lopez-Otin, C., Lugli, E., Madeo, F., Malorni, W., Marine, J. C., Martin, S. J., Martinou, J. C., Medema, J. P., Meier, P., Melino, S., Mizushima, N., Moll, U., Munoz-Pinedo, C., Nunez, G., Oberst, A., Panaretakis, T., Penninger, J. M., Peter, M. E., Piacentini, M., Pinton, P., Prehn, J. H., Puthalakath, H., Rabinovich, G. A., Ravichandran, K. S., Rizzuto, R., Rodrigues, C. M., Rubinsztein, D. C., Rudel, T., Shi, Y., Simon, H. U., Stockwell, B. R., Szabadkai, G., Tait, S. W., Tang, H. L., Tavernarakis, N., Tsujimoto, Y., Vanden Berghe, T., Vandenabeele, P., Villunger, A., Wagner, E. F., Walczak, H., White, E., Wood, W. G., Yuan, J., Zakeri, Z., Zhivotovsky, B., Melino, G., and Kroemer, G. (2015) Essential versus accessory aspects of cell death: recommendations of the NCCD 2015. Cell Death Diff. 22, 58-73
  • Gogineni, V., Schinazi, R. F., and Hamann, M. T. (2015) Role of Marine Natural Products in the Genesis of Antiviral Agents. Chem. Rev. 115, 9655-9706
  • Gong, J., Fields, M. A., Moreira, E. F., Bowrey, H. E., Gooz, M., Ablonczy, Z., and Del Priore, L. V. (2015) Differentiation of Human Protein-Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells toward a Retinal Pigment Epithelial Cell Fate. PloS One 10, e0143272
  • Gu, X., Wei, Z. Z., Espinera, A., Lee, J. H., Ji, X., Wei, L., Dix, T. A., and Yu, S. P. (2015) Pharmacologically induced hypothermia attenuates traumatic brain injury in neonatal rats. Exp. Neurol. 267, 135-142
  • Hammond, C. E., Beeson, C., Suarez, G., Peek, R. M., Jr., Backert, S., and Smolka, A. J. (2015) Helicobacter pylori virulence factors affecting gastric proton pump expression and acid secretion. Am. J. Physiol. Gastrointestinal and Liver physiology 309, G193-201
  • Hoye, T. R., Alarif, W. M., Basaif, S. S., Abo-Elkarm, M., Hamann, M. T., Wahba, A. E., and Ayyad, S. N. (2015) New cytotoxic cyclic peroxide acids from sp. marine sponge. ARKIVOC : Free Online J. Org. Chem. 2015, 164-175
  • Jayasundara, N., Kozal, J. S., Arnold, M. C., Chan, S. S., and Di Giulio, R. T. (2015) High-Throughput Tissue Bioenergetics Analysis Reveals Identical Metabolic Allometric Scaling for Teleost Hearts and Whole Organisms. PloS One 10, e0137710
  • Leonard, A. P., Cameron, R. B., Speiser, J. L., Wolf, B. J., Peterson, Y. K., Schnellmann, R. G., Beeson, C. C., and Rohrer, B.(2015) Quantitative analysis of mitochondrial morphology and membrane potential in living cells using high-content imaging, machine learning, and morphological binning. Biochim. Biophys. Acta 1853, 348-360
  • Li, Y., and Woster, P. M. (2015) Discovery of a new class of histone deacetylase inhibitors with a novel zinc binding group. MedChemComm 6, 613-618
  • Liu, Q., Krishnasamy, Y., Rehman, H., Lemasters, J. J., Schnellmann, R. G., and Zhong, Z. (2015) Disrupted Renal Mitochondrial Homeostasis after Liver Transplantation in Rats. PloS One 10, e0140906
  • Liu, Q., Rehman, H., Krishnasamy, Y., Schnellmann, R. G., Lemasters, J. J., and Zhong, Z. (2015) Improvement of liver injury and survival by JNK2 and iNOS deficiency in liver transplants from cardiac death mice. J. Hepatology 63, 68-74
  • Maganti, A. V., Maier, B., Tersey, S. A., Sampley, M. L., Mosley, A. L., Ozcan, S., Pachaiyappan, B., Woster, P. M., Hunter, C.S., Stein, R., and Mirmira, R. G. (2015) Transcriptional activity of the islet beta cell factor Pdx1 is augmented by lysine methylation catalyzed by the methyltransferase Set7/9. J. Biol. Chem. 290, 9812-9822
  • Mani, S. K., Kern, C. B., Kimbrough, D., Addy, B., Kasiganesan, H., Rivers, W. T., Patel, R. K., Chou, J. C., Spinale, F. G., Mukherjee, R., and Menick, D. R. (2015) Inhibition of class I histone deacetylase activity represses matrix metalloproteinase-2 and -9 expression and preserves LV function postmyocardial infarction. Am. J. Physiol. 308, H1391-1401
  • Nowotarski, S. L., Pachaiyappan, B., Holshouser, S. L., Kutz, C. J., Li, Y., Huang, Y., Sharma, S. K., Casero, R. A., Jr., and Woster, P. M. (2015) Structure-activity study for (bis)ureidopropyl- and (bis)thioureidopropyldiamine LSD1 inhibitors with 3-5-3 and 3-6-3 carbon backbone architectures. Bioorg. Med. Chem. 23, 1601-1612
  • Rahn, J. J., Bestman, J. E., Stackley, K. D., and Chan, S. S. (2015) Zebrafish lacking functional DNA polymerase gamma survive to juvenile stage, despite rapid and sustained mitochondrial DNA depletion, altered energetics and growth. Nucleic Acids Res. 43, 10338-10352
  • Renaud, L., Harris, L. G., Mani, S. K., Kasiganesan, H., Chou, J. C., Baicu, C. F., Van Laer, A., Akerman, A. W., Stroud, R. E., Jones, J. A., Zile, M. R., and Menick, D. R. (2015) HDACs Regulate miR-133a Expression in Pressure Overload-Induced Cardiac Fibrosis. Circulation. Heart Failure 8, 1094-1104
  • Verlinden, B. K., de Beer, M., Pachaiyappan, B., Besaans, E., Andayi, W. A., Reader, J., Niemand, J., van Biljon, R., Guy, K., Egan, T., Woster, P. M., and Birkholtz, L. M. (2015) Interrogating alkyl and arylalkylpolyamino (bis)urea and (bis)thiourea isosteres as potent antimalarial chemotypes against multiple lifecycle forms of Plasmodium falciparum parasites. Bioorg. Med. Chem. 23, 5131-5143
  • Wang, B., Waters, A. L., Valeriote, F. A., and Hamann, M. T. (2015) An efficient and cost-effective approach to kahalalide FN-terminal modifications using a nuisance algal bloom of Bryopsis pennata. Biochim. Biophys. Acta 1850, 1849-1854
  • Waters, A. L., Oh, J., Place, A. R., and Hamann, M. T. (2015) Stereochemical Studies of the Karlotoxin Class Using NMR Spectroscopy and DP4 Chemical-Shift Analysis: Insights into their Mechanism of Action. Angewandte Chemie 54, 15705-15710
  • Whitaker, R. M., Corum, D., Beeson, C. C., and Schnellmann, R. G. (2016) Mitochondrial Biogenesis as a Pharmacological Target: A New Approach to Acute and Chronic Diseases. Ann. Rev. Pharmacol. Toxicol. 56, 229-249
  • Whitaker, R. M., Korrapati, M. C., Stallons, L. J., Jesinkey, S. R., Arthur, J. M., Beeson, C. C., Zhong, Z., and Schnellmann, R. G.(2015) Urinary ATP Synthase Subunit beta Is a Novel Biomarker of Renal Mitochondrial Dysfunction in Acute Kidney Injury.Toxicol. Sci. 145, 108-117
  • Whitaker, R. M., Stallons, L. J., Kneff, J. E., Alge, J. L., Harmon, J. L., Rahn, J. J., Arthur, J. M., Beeson, C. C., Chan, S. L., and Schnellmann, R. G. (2015) Urinary mitochondrial DNA is a biomarker of mitochondrial disruption and renal dysfunction in acute kidney injury. Kidney international 88, 1336-1344
  • Wills, L. P., Beeson, G. C., Hoover, D. B., Schnellmann, R. G., and Beeson, C. C. (2015) Assessment of ToxCast Phase II for Mitochondrial Liabilities Using a High-Throughput Respirometric Assay. Toxicol. Sci. 146, 226-234
  • Woster, P. M. (2015) A history of Annual Reports in Medicinal Chemistry Ann. Rep. Med. Chem. 50, 1-14
  • Yuan, H., Wang, X., Hill, K., Chen, J., Lemasters, J. J., Yang, S. M., and Sha, S. H. (2015) Autophagy attenuates noise-induced hearing loss by reducing oxidative stress. Antiox. Redox Signaling 22, 1308-1324