Dr. Manoranjan D’Souza, an assistant professor of pharmacology pharmaceutical and biomedical sciences in the Raabe College of Pharmacy at Ohio Northern University, is among 14 recipients of New Investigator Awards announced by the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP) on Jan. 14.
His research project, “Brain kappa opioid receptors and aversive effects of nicotine,” investigates the role of kappa opioid receptors in specific brain regions, thus advancing the understanding of the neural circuitry mediating the aversive effects of nicotine and providing a novel target for future smoking-cessation medications.
This AACP award supports new faculty research in areas such as the biological sciences, chemistry, pharmaceutical sciences, pharmacy practice, and the social and administrative sciences. This year’s recipients are investigating topics as diverse as medication therapy management, treatment of ovarian cancer and the impact of medication errors during care transitions. These awards provide startup funding for research programs that lead to future medical publications.
“I am very excited about receiving this award,” D’Souza said. “The awards are very competitive. Approximately one in 10 applicants are successful, so being a recipient validates my work. The vision of my research is to change the smoking experience for those who are addicted to nicotine products and want to quit. Currently available Food and Drug Administration-approved medications for smoking cessation are not effective for all smokers who want to quit. I am hopeful this research will help those for whom currently available medications are not effective and aid them in their desire to lead healthier lives. I am extremely thankful for the support I have received from my colleagues in the department and the College of Pharmacy here at Ohio Northern University.”
Dr. D’Souza will use the award to study the role of opioid receptors in specific brain regions in the adverse effects of nicotine. Nicotine is a major component of tobacco smoke, and the research will identify new treatments for promoting smoking cessation. He will work alongside current pharmacy students who work in his lab to accomplish his research vision. Those ONU students are Melissa Ward from Columbus, Ohio; Haval Norman from Pendleton, Ore; Lisanne Sprague from Williamsville, N.Y.; Uhood Ashkan from Al Madinah, Saudi Arabia; Mary Evans from West Mansfield, Ohio; and Christina “Tina” Marengo from Elk Grove, Calif.
“We are very proud of Dr. D’Souza,” said Dr. Mark Olah, chair of the pharmaceutical and biomedical sciences department at ONU. “Mano’s work is very exciting from a basic science level, as it may define a role for specific opioid receptors in nicotine addiction. Perhaps more important is the substantial clinical potential of this work, as cigarette smoking is a major health risk in both local and world-wide populations. The development of new medications to assist in smoking cessation would be extremely valuable.”
Dr. D’Souza will present his research findings at the 2017 AACP Annual meeting as part of the award.