Kathryn A. Cunningham, Ph.D.

Kathryn CunninghamDirector, UTMB Center for Addiction Research, Vice Chair, UTMB Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology and Chauncey Leake Distinguished Professor of Pharmacology. I am delighted to be considered for service on the Council of the Association of Medical School Pharmacology Chairs (AMSPC). I joined AMSPC in 2007 when I became Chair Ad Interim (2007-2011) of the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology at the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) and have continued to represent our department at AMSPC as Vice Chair (2011-present). I have been engaged in AMSPC as a presenter at the annual meeting and member of the nominating committee. Our annual meeting showcases pharmacology as a discipline and draws a dynamic and energized cross-section of new and seasoned chairs focused on the future of our discipline. The success of AMSPC is directly related to the capacity of Council to envision and actualize the future and to react with determination and optimism to internal and external environments and trends. If elected, I will contribute to the creation of the future vision for the AMSPC and will take an active role in the execution of the necessary steps to ensure that pharmacology remains preeminent in academic medicine.

I have extensive and diverse experience in leadership, research and education, program building and strategic planning in pharmacology and translational research. I lead cross-disciplinary teams that address complex and impactful scientific health problems, particularly disorders marked by an addictive dimensionality (e.g., substance use disorders, eating disorders, obesity). Our efforts are embedded in a strong collaborative effort with chemists, cell biologists and clinical scientists to discover key neuromolecular targets that may be exploited toward the goal of improved diagnostics and therapeutics for addictive disorders. As Chair Ad Interim and Vice Chair of the pharmacology department, I have played a key role in the recruitment and mentoring of 10 new faculty as well as the development of new research and educational directions. As the founding director of the UTMB Center for Addiction Research, I have worked with our faculty and mentees to implement key strategies to expand research and mentoring activities, to recruit high caliber faculty, capture philanthropy, and optimize career and grant development programs. This experience, as well as my leadership roles in several professional societies (e.g., the American Society of Pharmacology and Therapeutics, the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology), has honed my ability to organize the relevant teams and their efforts, to set a strong example, to delegate authority as appropriate, and to provide feedback and course correction when necessary during the process. I am honored to be nominated for a Council seat and, if chosen to serve, I pledge to build on the history of the AMSPC to chart a sustainable future in which we collectively drive the path of our science and education, promote our advances to the public, and embrace diversity of thought.