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RESEARCH Vice Dean's Message

Kenny J. Simansky, PhD Kenny J. Simansky, PhD
Vice Dean for Research; Professor of Pharmacology & Physiology

Welcome to the Drexel University College of Medicine Research website. This site serves as a focal point for research at the College and provides investigators with the information and resources necessary for conducting research.

The nature of research activity in a medical school defines the intellectual climate of the institution. Experimental investigation of the mechanisms and consequences of human disease and trauma provides insight for developing novel strategies to maintain wellness and treat sickness. Systematic evaluation of those strategies — behavioral interventions; new pharmacological, molecular and other manipulations of cellular targets; new implanted sensors and devices — establishes which to adopt for clinical practice and which to discard. This entire research enterprise should and must create the culture in which students are taught medicine as a rational, evidence-based approach to improving human health.

Drexel University College of Medicine is proud of the internationally recognized research programs conducted by our basic scientists and of the many complementary efforts in clinical science and clinical care conducted by our faculty. The College boasts programmatic excellence in fields that include:

  • Infectious and inflammatory diseases: The major programs in infectious and inflammatory diseases at the College are focused on basic discovery science and translational medicine pertaining to the diagnosis, therapeutic management and vaccine development related to HIV/AIDS, hepatitis B/C-induced diseases and malaria. The research involves identification of biomarkers for disease; characterization of mechanisms of infectivity and pathogenesis; creation of vaccines and other preventives; therapeutic agents to treat both acute and chronic disease; and resistance to antiviral and antimalarial drugs. Among the major translational efforts in this area are NIH-sponsored clinical trials of a monoclonal antibody to prevent HIV infection. Important complementary approaches include strategies to enhance host immune defenses to interfere with infections by viral and other pathogens.
  • Neuroscience: Developing treatments for acute and chronic spinal cord injury is one of the most notable research programs in neuroscience at the College of Medicine. Other significant efforts in neuroscience include studies of neuroinflammation; the cognitive effects of chronic HIV/AIDS infection of the nervous system (neuroAIDS); mechanisms and treatment of pain; mechanisms and treatment of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and other neurodegenerative diseases; and investigations of the mechanisms in the brain involved in behavioral disorders. The newly formed Drexel Neuroscience Institute will dramatically increase translational opportunities for the faculty and students.
  • Cancer biology: The cancer biology program investigates basic biochemical/molecular research on a broad range of cellular processes and has been extremely powerful in understanding cancer biology — from transformation, to metastasis, to response to treatment. Investigators' research activities are focused on control of cell proliferation DNA replication transcription, splicing, signal transduction, metabolism, aging, apoptosis viral carcinogenesis, and DNA damage/repair. The creation of novel antimetastatic molecules has led to the formation of a biotechnology startup company.

Of course, our strengths and successes in research extend beyond these areas, and I invite you to explore the web pages of our departments, institutes and centers to learn more.

Drexel University, as a whole, prides itself on generating new knowledge that is translated rapidly into solutions for the problems of society. One prominent avenue for affecting that commitment at the College of Medicine involves the convergence of fundamental research in biomedical sciences and engineering leading to novel technological applications for therapeutics, vaccines and other preventives, and devices for medical and surgical applications. One particularly novel development has been the creation of a smart fabric for fetal monitoring. This resulted from a collaboration of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, the College of Engineering, and the Westphal College of Media Arts and Design.

We are particularly excited by our plans to expand our scientific efforts in biomedical informatics, health informatics and epidemiology to identify new areas for scientific investigation and for optimizing clinical care. Our colleagues in the Departments of Pediatrics, Medicine and Emergency Medicine are partnering with faculty members in the School of Public Health, the College of Nursing and Health Professions and other Drexel schools and colleges in community-centered efforts to improve the environment and urban health overall in our neighborhoods. We look forward enthusiastically to continuing to grow and diversify our programs of scientific discovery towards better serving our patients in the future.

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