3D electron microscopic reconstruction of neurons in hippocampus used for neuropharmacology studies. Discovering new treatments

Researchers in the Department of Molecular Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics at Mayo Clinic are committed to identifying and developing new treatment options for a wide range of diseases. Using cutting-edge technologies, they are advancing the treatment of cardiovascular diseases, neurological and psychiatric conditions, and cancer.


The Department of Molecular Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics (MPET) is the academic home for basic and translational scientists studying diseases and their treatment at the cellular and subcellular level. Department members share a passion for identifying pathways and processes that can serve as targets for small (and not so small) therapeutic molecules.

The department was founded in 1968, four years before the opening of Mayo Clinic Alix School of Medicine, when John R. Blinks, M.D., was recruited from Harvard to serve as its first chair. By the early '70s, the department had established innovative research programs in nerve, muscle and cardiac cell biology; in drug metabolism; and in the interactions of drugs with excitable tissues. Subsequent generations of faculty members have established preeminent programs in pharmacogenomics and individualized medicine, cancer pharmacology, and systems pharmacology.

Members of the MPET faculty are pursuing research opportunities across the Mayo Clinic enterprise. At Mayo Clinic's campus in Rochester, Minnesota, MPET labs are located in the Stabile, Guggenheim, Medical Sciences, Joseph and Gonda Buildings. In addition, faculty members conduct their research in the Griffin Building on the Florida campus and in the Collaborative Research Building on the Arizona campus.

Molecular research to improve patient care

Research in the department is designed to improve the therapy for a wide range of diseases. Departmental research programs are heavily supported by research and training grants from the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation and the Department of Defense, and by the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry.

Areas of research emphasis include:

  • Cancer pharmacology. Which signal transduction pathways are altered in cancer, and what is the therapeutic impact of interrupting them?
  • Cardiovascular pharmacology. What are the causes and effective treatments of congenital cardiac conditions, including arrhythmias and structural defects?
  • Regenerative pharmacology. Can principles of regenerative medicine be applied to minimize or reverse the effects of cardiac and neurological damage?
  • Pharmacology of addiction. What is the biology underlying alcohol use disorder, alone and in combination with other addictions? Can gene therapy be used to treat cocaine addiction?
  • Individualized medicine. Can a combination of pharmacogenomics, metabolomics and artificial intelligence help us prescribe the right drug at the right dose to each patient?
  • Systems pharmacology. Can systems-biology approaches provide new insight into disease states that will allow identification of novel therapeutic targets for intervention?

For more details, see focus areas and research interests of our faculty.

Integrating research and education

Training the next generation of researchers is woven into the fabric of the Department of Molecular Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics. At present, more than 35 Ph.D. and M.D.-Ph.D. candidates as well as 60 postdoctoral trainees, including Ph.D. research fellows and clinical trainees, are working with over 40 primary and joint faculty members in the department.

By joining a laboratory within the department, you will have an opportunity to become a member of a multidisciplinary team tackling a therapeutic problem, for example, drug resistance in ovarian, breast, pancreatic and lung cancers; cardiac regeneration after myocardial infarction; individual variation in response to antidepressants; or development of a new class of agents to treat Alzheimer’s disease. If a team does not already exist, our collaborative atmosphere and treatment-centered focus will likely provide an opportunity to build a team to support your research.

Department leadership

  • Liewei Wang, M.D., Ph.D., is the chair of Mayo Clinic's Department of Molecular Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, the Bernard and Edith Waterman Director of the Pharmacogenomics Program in the Center for Individualized Medicine and a professor of pharmacology at Mayo Clinic College of Medicine.
  • Richard Weinshilboum, M.D., is chair of the Division of Clinical Pharmacology and a professor of medicine and pharmacology at Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science.