We study sigma receptors, proteins found throughout the body. They bind several classes of psychoactive drugs. Activation of sigma-2 receptors causes programmed cell death (apoptosis). We are trying to understand the underlying mechanisms for this. Because they are highly expressed in cancer cells, we are targeting sigma-2 receptors for development of new antineoplastic agents. Also, antipsychotic drugs such as haloperidol damage neurons via sigma-2 receptors. Blocking sigma-2 receptors might prevent the irreversible motor side effects caused by typical neuroleptic agents.
Dr. Wayne Bowen earned his B.S. in chemistry from Morgan State College in 1974, and completed his Ph.D. in biochemistry and neurobiology at Cornell University in 1981. After postdoctoral studies at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), he initially came to Brown University in 1983, as Assistant Professor of Biology in the Section of Biochemistry where he taught endocrinology, introductory biology, and biochemistry and did research on opioid and sigma receptors in the brain. Shortly after promotion to Associate Professor, he moved back to the NIH in 1991 to establish the Unit on Receptor Biochemistry and Pharmacology within the Laboratory of Medicinal Chemistry of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). He returned to Brown University in 2004 to take his current position as Professor of Biology in the Department of Molecular Pharmacology, Physiology & Biotechnology in the Division of Biology and Medicine. In 2007, he assumed the position as department chair and was named Upjohn Professor of Pharmacology in 2008.
WAYNE BOWEN, Ph.D., Cornell University, 1981
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