RESEARCH ON REVERSING OR BLOCKING LUNG DISEASE FROM AGRICULTURAL DUSTS FOCUS OF SIGMA XI SCIENCE CAFE MONDAY (APRIL 4) AT THUNDERHEAD

Dr. Kim Carlson
Associate professor of Biology, 308.865.1554

A University of Nebraska Medical Center researcher who is looking for ways to prevent or reverse lung disease caused by agricultural dusts will speak at the Sigma Xi Science Cafe Monday, April 4, at Thunderhead.

Dr. Myron Toews, a professor of pharmacology in the UNMC College of Medicine, will speak at 5 p.m. The presentation, sponsored by the University of Nebraska at Kearney chapter of Sigma Xi, is free and open to the public.

In his presentation, Dr. Toews will talk about where new drugs have come from in the past, some personal stories of drug discovery and development, and the future promise of “personalized medicines” based on both pharmaco-genomics and cell-based therapies.

Currently, Dr. Toews is part of a $3.5 million National Institutes of Occupational Health Sciences research grant project that is looking for ways to prevent and treat lung disease in agricultural workers. Pork is one of the world’s most widely consumed meat. In Nebraska, with an estimated 153 swine concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), it is Nebraska’s fifth leading commodity and part of the state’s $5.9 billion in agricultural exports. ┬áDespite modernization of CAFOs, it’s estimated that more than one-third of those who work in animal, swine and dairy facilities develop lung disease related to dust exposure.

Dr. Toews is looking to identify a receptor on the cells that line the lung and then identify a molecule that can block the receptors. He is also looking for a molecule that could reverse lung disease in people, according to a spokesman for UNMC.

A professor of pharmacology, Dr. Toews received a Ph.D. in biochemistry from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and did post-doctoral research in pharmacology at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. He was a faculty member in pharmacology at the University of Missouri-Columbia for five years before joining the faculty at UNMC in 1989.

His research interests are in the families of “receptors” to which drug molecules bind to mediate their effects, in particular the mechanisms by which different receptors interact with each other to fine-tune their responses and the ways in which receptor systems adapt during long-term drug treatment. Much of his recent research has dealt with interactions between “G protein-coupled receptors” for hormones and neurotransmitters and “growth factor” receptors that are best known for their roles in cancer.

He is also heavily involved in teaching and promoting pharmacology, having recently served as an officer of the Molecular Pharmacology Division of the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics and serving as the course director for one of four NIH-funded short courses in Integrative and Organ Systems Pharmacology.

He is connected with research at UNK through his role as director of Cell Signaling Research for the Nebraska INBRE program.