william chanDr. William Chan, Professor and Chair of the Department of Pharmaceutics and Medicinal Chemistry, has received a grant from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, a division of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), for his research titled “Investigating the molecular mechanisms in controlling the aryl hydrocarbon receptor protein levels.” This $367,000 grant is funded over three years.

The aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) is an important signaling molecule that responds to human exposure to numerous environmental contaminants that are unavoidable in our daily diet and living. Understanding how our body controls the AhR cellular levels and how it affects our bodily response to toxins in the environment is a fundamental part of the research. Dr. Chan has discovered that a protein known as p23 has the ability to decrease the amount of the receptor in the absence of ligand, a molecule that binds to another. This grant will address mechanisms that control the AhR protein levels in human cells.

If successful, researchers will gain a better understanding of how the AhR protein levels are maintained and regulated, which will uncover mechanisms to modulate its functions for better drug design to address complications in cancer, aberrant immune response, stem cell development and more.

Dr. Chan will be working closely with graduate students, doctor of pharmacy students, and possibly pre-pharmacy students to conduct the research. “I am excited about this research but what is undeniably important is that I have the opportunity to expose students to research and get them excited about this field and hope that it will play a role in their career choice,” said Dr. Chan.

Dr. Chan was recently named department chair, effective July 1. He says he looks forward to “creating an environment for faculty to excel in teaching and scholarly activities.”

Dr. Chan has been studying the AhR since 1993 and has received a total of four grants from the institute since 1999.



By Dua Her '09
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