Integrative Cell Signaling

How does a cell know what to do and when to do it? This question forms the basis for the field of research called signal transduction. Here in the Department of Pharmacology at Yale, signal transduction is studied in a variety of different ways to understand how a cell transduces signals from the plasma membrane to the nucleus. Understanding this complex series of inter-connected cascades inside the cell will eventually provide a detailed roadmap for how cells work. The value that this information offers to the well-being of humans is immense. Signal transduction in Pharmacology provides the unique opportunity to uncover the basis of human disease and ultimately the development of novel therapeutic strategies to treat cancer, cardiovascular, neurological and metabolic disorders.

The strength of signal transduction research in the Department of Pharmacology is built upon an integrated platform from which faculty from different disciplines collaborate and bring to bear their expertise to solve a variety of distinct problems in the area of cell signaling. These research interests include the regulation of signal transduction by protein phosphorylation through the actions of protein kinases and protein phosphatases. Other areas of interest focus on the actions of G-protein-coupled receptors, phospholipids, calcium and gases as intracellular transducers. In many instances the inter-connectivity of these intracellular signaling pathways provides a portal to the outside world. How cells sense their environment through adhesion molecules and membrane channels are also areas of signal transduction research conducted in this department.

The study of signal transduction in Pharmacology at Yale is particularly exciting because of the potential impact that uncovering how these complex networks work might have on human disease. To accomplish these goals a variety of state-of-the-art techniques are applied and novel approaches to the study of signaling molecules are developed here in this department. In addition, researchers utilize mouse genetics approaches alongside the traditional tools of biochemistry and molecular biology to connect these signaling pathways to the broader goal of defining whether disruption of these pathways participates in the pathogenesis of human disease.