News and Events

The Annual Pharmacology Research Retreat was held on Thursday, October 5, 2017 at Morven Farms. It was a wonderful day of fellowship and sharing of the various research efforts of our students and faculty. One of the most exciting parts of the day were the presentation of various awards. This year’s winners include:

  • Peter C. Isakson Mentoring Award – Michelle Bland
  • Ted W. Rall Award (outstanding paper) – Janelle Weaver (Bayliss lab)
  • Best Predoctoral Presentation – Caroline Franks (Hsu Lab) and A Rosen (Gaultier Lab)
  • Best Postdoctoral Presentation – Yu-Hsin “Eva” Chiu (Bayliss lab) and Joshua Drake (Yan Lab)
  • Best Poster Presentation – Michael Schappe (Desai lab) and Vlad Serbulea (Leitinger lab)

The Pharmacology Department is very proud of all of its’ hardworking, dedicated and scientifically passionate students and faculty! It was evident that a lot of work went into each presentation and they were all well-received by all. Everyone did such an amazing job which made it very difficult to decide the winners of these various awards. Please be sure to congratulate all of our winners when you see them around!


Tufts University in Boston, Massachusetts is offering an exciting postdoctoral training program.  This program, called TEACRS (Training in Education and Critical Research Skills), is funded by the Institution Research and Career Development Award (IRACDA) mechanism of NIH-GMS.


TEACRS is designed to prepare talented young scientists for the multiple demands of an academic career in biomedical research. Trainees spend on average 75% of their time conducting bench research and 25% of their time in career development activities. Teaching skills are developed through programs involving mentored classroom assignments at minority-serving institutions in the Boston area.  The training is supplemented by workshops on teaching methods, career opportunities in academia, and essential skills such as grant writing, mentoring, and scientific presentations.  The training components are sequenced to allow trainees to balance the activities and to build on previous experiences. TEACRS fellows receive up to four years of salary support and a yearly travel and supply allowance.


The application deadline for positions beginning in the fall of 2018 is March 1. Later applications will be considered if positions are available.  Applicants must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents with no more than two years of postdoctoral training at the time of their appointment to the program. Commitment to the goals of the program, strong academic and research credentials and a demonstrated interest in teaching and mentoring will be important criteria used in the selection process.


For additional information on the TEACRS program and application procedures, please visit the website, or contact Claire Moore, the Program Director, or Jordan Wilkinson, the Program’s Research Administrator with questions.


As a reminder to Pharm Faculty, University/Classified Staff, and Professional Research Staff:

Please note that Open Enrollment starts today,  October 9 and ends on Oct. 27, 2017.

During this time, you need to review and select your benefits for next year (effective January 1, 2018). Please note that there are significant changes this year – notably:

  • All three plans have the same Maximum Out of Pocket costs (in-network: $5,500 for individual; $11,000 for family).
  • The Choice plan will no longer offer fixed copays for doctors, specialists, and other services such as physical therapy; it is changing to deductible + 10% coinsurance.
  • The Value Plan will still offer fixed copays and the deductible is increasing from $500 to $1000 (per individual) and from $1,000 to $2,000 (for +1 or family).
  • Premiums will increase across the board for Choice and Value plans (no increase in Basic Plan premiums).

You can see more info on the Open Enrollment Website:

Please plan to attend one of the Open Enrollment Presentations ( There will be OE presentations in McKim (Sandridge Auditorium) on Tuesday, October 10 @ 8:30 AM, Friday, October 20 @ 2;00 PM, and Tuesday, October 24 @ 8:30 AM.

There will also be a UVA Health and Benefits Expo on Oct. 11 (8:30 am – 2 pm) on the 3rd floor of Newcomb Hall and on October 12 (7 am – 3 pm) in the Medical Center Dining Conference Rooms.

Also, if you have specific questions about your personal health and finance situation, you may wish to speak to the UHR Help Desk (; 924-0123) or University’s Ombudsman, Mandy Eppard (ALB8TB, 924-1031).


The University of Virginia will be commemorating its first 200 years this weekend! Please click here to visit the Bicentennial website and learn more about UVA’s achievements over the years, get a glimpse of what the next 200 years is envisioned to be like and to get a full listing of celebratory events happening this weekend!

Dr. Zhen Yan is a professor of Medicine at UVA’s SOM and has a joint appointment in the Pharmacology Department. An article that was published in Nature Communications was mentioned in Medical News Today. The article describes a new study that showed how exercise helps the body to keep the cells in the muscles healthy and strong by renewing its cellular mitochondria. Dr. Yan was the head researcher in the study and describes the process by which exercise removes damage mitochondria through an analogy of inspecting and removing damaged cars from city streets;

“Aerobic exercise removes damaged mitochondria in skeletal muscle. If you do it repeatedly, you keep removing the damaged ones. You have a better muscle with better mitochondrial quality. We clean up the clunkers, now the city, the cell, is full of healthy, functional cars.” – Prof. Zhen Yan

Using mice, the study demonstrates that exercise affects the mitochondria in the muscles through “mitophagy” which is the process by which damaged or defective mitochondria are selected and removed.

For more detailed information about the study and to read the full article in Medical News Today click here.

The Pharmacology Department would like to thank Dr. Yan for the impact he and his team researchers have made on Medicine and the understanding of the human body as it relates to muscles, exercise and overall health.

One of UVA Pharmacology’s own researcher, J. Julius Zhu, PhD and his collaborators have created a breakthrough in medicine by developing a method to accurately and efficiently calculate tiny changes in gene mutations as they relate to and interact with molecular changes. Thanks to a new technique developed by Dr. Zhu and his team,  researchers now have a easy way to measure the incredibly subtle changes that go on between gene mutations and the interaction of molecules as they communicate with each other.  With Dr. Zhu’s development and use of a high-tech scientific instrument called “optical tweezers, ” scientists will be able to measure the force required to break up intermolecular bonds between the signaling molecules inside the body enabling researchers to dramatically improve the ability to diagnose disease. For more information on this story and this amazing advancement in medicine please visit:

The Pharmacology Department would like to congratulate Dr. Zhu and his team for this life-changing impact on medicine and research!

Dr. Vivian Pinn, a 1967 graduate was the only woman and African-American in her class, even before women where able to enroll in the undergraduate College. She eventually became the first director of the Office of Research on Women’s Health at the National Institutes.  She was also the first African-American woman to give the University’s Commencement Address in 2005.

The UVA community honored Dr. Pinn in Mcleod Hall yesterday, as the newly renamed Pinn Hall is being renovated right next door. Pinn Hall was originally named Jordan Hall in 1972, after Harvey E.  Jordan, a former dean of the School of Medicine and a proponent in the early 1900s of the now discredited scientific eugenics(which served as a basis for discriminating against minority groups, the mentally ill and impoverished communities).

The UVA Board of Visitors voted to change the name of the building last year.  Yesterday was the official dedication of Pinn Hall. UVA President Teresa A. Sullivan said, “For the University of Virginia, it is a privilege to dedicate this space in honor of someone who has spent much of her life shattering glass ceilings and breaking down barriers – someone who has made a powerful impact on the University’s history; the history of medicine and women in medicine; and the future for African-American women.”

To learn more about Dr. Pinn visit links below:

Vivian W. Pinn


The Curry School of Education sponsors a program for young scholars, offering fun, but academically advanced courses in a range of topics. The program serves elementary school children who are identified by their teachers as gifted, or highly-able. Courses are offered on 5 consecutive Saturday mornings in January and February – between the first day of spring semester and spring break.


We are seeking UVa graduate students who are pursuing PhD’s or Master’s Degrees in any specialty. No previous experience teaching children is required – just a desire to share your knowledge with a group of young, intensely curious people. If you enjoy interacting with young people, this is a very fun activity. We provide training and as much support as you want or need in preparing the 10 hour curriculum you will teach. We provide all supplies that you may need. We also pair you with at least one Teaching Assistant to help you manage the classroom. These Teaching Assistants are Curry undergraduates who are training to be school teachers. They are enormously helpful and they benefit from learning about your specialty as they move into their teaching careers. Classes are taught in the Curry buildings – Ruffner Hall and the Dells. Class size is 16.


The main motivation that has brought other grad students to this experience is outreach – a chance to introduce a young person to the wonders of your field of expertise. However, we also pay teachers and teaching assistants for their time and effort. Teachers will earn $900 for the 5 Saturdays.


Please consider clicking here to fill out the online application and joining the Saturday Enrichment Program in our effort to inspire the young people in our community. Applications are due Wednesday, September 20.  Paper applications are available and have details about the activity that will help you decide if this might be a good choice for you. This is a well-respected and very popular program, now in its 40th year! We would be thrilled to have you join us this year. If you have any questions or need a paper application, please contact Julie Baird at .


UVA Green Labs wants you to SHUT THE SASH on your fume hood! It is a safe and energy efficient practice when a hood is not in use.


We are recruiting labs in Pinn Hall, MR5, PLSB, and Chemistry to sign up for UVA’s first fume hood best practices competition. CLICK HERE to see competition details and to fill out a registration form. After registering, you will receive a competition form on Sunday October 1st and will have until Tuesday October 31st to complete as many items on the form as you’d like to earn points to WIN! Questions? Email


The Pharmacology Department would like to recognize and congratulate Michelle Bland for being this year’s recipient of the Dean’s Award for Excellence in Teaching Award. UVA SOM recognizes faculty who excel in teaching students. Characteristics that may exemplify teaching excellence include being outstanding as class room instructor, laboratory research mentor, small group discussion leader, dissection group tutor, clinical instructor, student advisor, curriculum innovator, course director, student advocate or director of research. Dr. Bland  has made a major impact in UVA’s learning environment. Her prowess for being an outstanding mentor, teacher and student advocate did not go unrecognized by the many students who’s lives and careers she has impacted.

Keep up the great work Dr. Bland! You are well-deserving of this award! Everyone, please take the time to say thanks to Dr. Bland for being a major asset to the Pharm Department and to the development of our students!