For over 25 years, William K. Chan, PharmD, PhD, professor and chair of the Department of Pharmaceutics and Medicinal Chemistry, has been on a quest to better understand aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR) protein levels, with the goal of contributing to the development of targeted pharmaceutical therapies. Dr. Chan received a $382,000 NIH R15 grant for the proposal “Investigating the molecular mechanisms in controlling the aryl hydrocarbon receptor protein levels.”
In 2014, Dr. Chan received a $367,058 NIH grant; his current NIH grant allows him to continue his research on AHR. “The function of the aryl hydrocarbon receptor is essential in response to environmental pollutants and normal cellular processes,” said Dr. Chan. His research team is interested in the regulatory mechanisms which control the aryl hydrocarbon receptor protein levels in human cells. “This receptor is fascinating because it appears to involve so many areas of our body,” Dr. Chan said. “For example, this receptor is involved in cancer, autoimmune diseases, lung diseases and diabetes. If we understand how cells regulate the receptor protein levels, we might be able to modulate its levels for therapeutic outcomes.”
“This receptor is involved in cancer, autoimmune diseases, lung diseases and diabetes.”
Dr. Chan also leverages his NIH grant to expose Pacific pre-pharmacy and doctor of pharmacy student to biomedical research. “This is a wonderful opportunity to shape young minds to think scientifically and also help students determine whether biomedical research is the direction for their future career,” he said. Several students currently assist with research in Dr. Chan’s lab: Colby Giang ’21, Michelle Su ’21, Amanda Yee ’21, Brandon Truong ’21, Michelle Su ’21, Wynonna Fuentez ’21, Derek Cheung ’22 and Reina Sanz ’22.
Dr. Chan was nominated and selected by his peers to receive the 2019-2020 Pacific Faculty Research Lecturer Award, which recognizes outstanding research or artistic contributions to the University. He expressed his gratitude for the value Pacific places on research and the support of his fellow faculty. “I am blessed with my colleagues in the Department of Pharmaceutics and Medicinal Chemistry,” he said. “We all get along very well and encourage one another to do good research and share ideas to better our teaching to pharmacy students.”
By Anne Marie H. Bergthold