1. Research: As a neuroscientist I am best known for advancing our understanding of how nicotine, the addictive substance in tobacco, changes brain function at the cellular level by altering communication between neurons. I was among the first neuroscientists to study the effects of nicotine within living brain slices at the single cell level. I discovered and purified from the venom of poisonous snakes (banded kraits) a class of proteins called the kappa-neurotoxins that are used to characterize subtypes of neuronal nicotinic receptors. I have identified presynaptic and postsynaptic actions due to the activation of nicotinic and muscarinic receptors in the CNS, and characterized the specific receptor subtypes involved in these processes. I was funded by NIH R01 awards for over 25 years and published over 70 peer-reviewed articles. I have mentored 5 PhD students, two of whom now have named Professorships and one of whom is Chair of a department. I also trained postdoctoral students during this period and Assistant and Associate Research Professors. I was Co-Principle Investigator of the NIH-funded Clinical and Translational Science Institute at Children’s National (CTSI-CN) for several years. I have served on NIH Study Sections and am a recipient of the SMHS Distinguished Researcher Award.
2. Administrative: (from 1997 - 2018) Chair of the Department of Pharmacology and Physiology. In 1997 I joined GW as Chair of the Department of Pharmacology and Director of the Neuroscience Graduate Program and oversaw an expansion of biomedical research activities, especially in the area of the neurosciences. The Physiology Department was merged into the Department in 2003, and we created a strong cardiovascular and integrative physiology group by recruiting additional NIH funded junior faculty to complement our senior scientists working in this area.
3. Administrative: (from 2010 - 2016). Associate Vice President for Health Affairs and Associate Dean of the School of Medicine and Health Sciences. I was appointed to these roles as an interim in 2010 and in 2013 they were converted to regular appointments. The primary role I served in these positions was to provide support, advice and expertise for Jeffrey S. Akman, MD, the Vice President for Health Affairs and Dean of SMHS. Areas of oversight and participation included research, the revised medical student curriculum, governance, LCME preparation and major searches. I also oversaw new school initiatives in the areas of operations, major construction projects and leased spaces. I worked closely with the Director of Finance and the Resource Management group in this capacity. Newly created positions of Senior Associate Dean for Medical Education, Senior Associate Dean for Research and Senior Associate Dean for Administration and Operations were filled, and these Deans took on overall responsibility for oversight in their areas.