Message from the Chair

The human genome sequence is readily accessible, but our knowledge of the principles that govern the regulation and function of genes and gene products (proteins) is still limited. Innovative experimental and computational approaches are urgently needed to gain molecular understanding of fundamental mechanisms of biology and diseases, and design and develop small molecules that perturb biological processes in informative and potentially therapeutic ways.

To address the grand challenge of translating our knowledge about human biology and pathology into new medicines for disease prevention and treatment, the Department of Pharmacological Sciences focuses its core research at the interface of Drug Design & Discovery, and Molecular and Systems Pharmacology. The Department builds academic programs on the foundation of its rich history and legacy that embodies three original basic science departments of Physiology, Biochemistry, and Pharmacology founded at the dawn of Mount Sinai Medical School in 1960s (see details in Scientific Highlights). Our innovative drug discovery is closely guided by mechanistic elucidation of macromolecular structure-function using X-ray crystallography, NMR spectroscopy, cryo-electron microscopy, and mass spectrometry techniques. This interdisciplinary research encompasses biochemistry and drug metabolism and action, as well as chemical biology, medicinal chemistry and systems pharmacology. Advances in genetics, genomics, proteomics, computational chemistry and bioinformatics enhance these research endeavors. Studying the interactions of small molecules with the whole genome and proteome defines molecular and systems pharmacology. This is well represented in the Department in the research areas of signal transduction, protein regulation, cell proliferation and differentiation, epigenetic control of chromatin structure and gene expression, mouse models of human diseases, and genomic analysis of drug action. Both drug discovery, and molecular and systems pharmacology integrate experimental and computational methods in that experimentation is guided by theory and vice versa; computational biology and bioinformatics spanning a range of disciplines from molecules to systems are therefore strongly represented in this Department.

Our faculty research receives more than $20 million annually in grant awards from the National Institutes of Health, placing us fourth in NIH award rankings among pharmacology basic science departments in the United States for the past five years.

The Department provides a rich educational environment for students and postdoctoral fellows to pursue training in pharmacological sciences with an eye towards novel scientific discovery and therapeutic intervention. The scale and complexity of today’s biomedical research increasingly demands that scientists go beyond the confines of their own disciplines and explore new interdisciplinary, collaborative, and team-based science. Such team-based science enables us to tackle some of the most challenging problems in biomedical sciences that no single research laboratory could do alone, making the translation of innovative scientific discovery into new medicines a reality.

The Department is fully committed to providing a nurturing environment for discovery and innovation in basic and translational biomedical research of human health and disease, and for advanced academic training for the next generation of physicians and scientists.


Ming-Ming Zhou, PhD
Dr. Harold and Golden Lamport Professor and Chairman, Pharmacological Sciences
Co-Director, Drug Discovery Institute