Skip to Content

All University of South Carolina system institutions will be closed through the end of the spring semester. Columbia campus virtual instruction will continue through the end of the Summer II semester (Aug 1). Details can be found on the coronavirus landing page.

School of Medicine

  • Neuron microscopy

Pharmacology, Physiology and Neuroscience

Our mission is to provide expert instruction and conduct innovative research in neuroscience, physiology and pharmacology. Our faculty members teach students of medicine, nurse anesthesia, physician assistants and biomedical science in the classroom and the laboratory.

 Medical Educator Faculty position available:

A search is currently underway for a non-tenure-track medical educator in our department.  See details here. Apply at USCJobs#68347: USCJobs

Our Department

We have an active research focus in the neuroscience research and take full advantage of the University of South Carolina's status as a Tier 1 research university. Using cutting edge technology to aid in the understanding of neuropsychiatric and neurologic disorders, we provide insight into new treatment strategies and targets for these devastating diseases.

The faculty work across disciplines in numerous collaborative projects, and we have a strong neuroscience research portfolio with over $10 million dollars in extramurally funded research through the National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Science Foundation (NSF), the Veterans Administration and numerous foundations and endowment funds, including the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation and the American Heart Association. 


Faculty Research 

Our dedicated faculty are leaders in research spanning a wide range of neuroscience-based areas including activities focus on the roles of specific molecules in cellular function and their importance to organismal physiology and behavior. Their work is published in high quality publications in high tier journals such as Nature Reviews Neuroscience, Biological Psychiatry, Molecular Psychiatry, Brain, Behavior & Immunity, PLoS One, Journal of Neuroscience, Diabetes, Neuroscience, Nanotechnology, Psychopharmacology and Experimental Neurology.

  • Neuropeptide regulation of anxiety and alcohol consumption: Marlene Wilson, James Fadel
  • Novel screening tools for G-protein linked receptors including opioid receptors: Kenneth Walsh
  • Individual differences in motivated behaviors and dopamine regulation: Marlene Wilson


Our Core Facilities

Viral Vector Core 

          Our full-service viral vector core produces virus-based platforms for gene delivery.  It is managed by Christopher Seliga.

Machine Shop

     Our machine shop fabricates and repairs custom lab equipment and renovates laboratory space.  It is supervised by Mike Gore.



PPN News

  • Susan Wood has been named the winner of the JH Woods Early Career Award in Behavioral Pharmacology by the ASPET Division for Behavioral Pharmacology.
  • Ana Pocivavsek was awarded a CONTE pilot project  for a project entitled 'Prenatally elevated Kynurenic Acid: Impact on Diurnal Dynamics of the Kynurenine Pathway and Sleep' 
  • Congratulations to Dr. Kevin LeBlanc and the rest of the Nurse Anesthesia team for receiving the maximum 10 year accreditation for the Masters in Nurse Anesthesia Program
  • Michy Kelly received a Faculty International Travel Grant from the Office of the Provost and Global Carolina
  • Welcome to Dr. Snezana Milosavljevic, a new postdoctoral fellow working in the Pocivavsek lab
  • Alex Mcdonald was honored with the Dean's Sustained School of Medicine Service award for over 40 years of service, research and teaching.
  • Catherine Rhea (MBS, CRNA) received the 2019 Distinguished Master's Alumni Award
  • Ana Pocivavsek was awarded a subcontract totaling over $1.6 million from the NIMH for a project entitled 'Kynurenic Acid and Cognitive Abnormalities in Schizophrenia' in collaboration with researchers at the University of Maryland.
  • Larry Reagan was awarded a new VA Merit Award (>$1.5 million) to study the immune basis for hippocampal deficits in response to pyridostigmine exposure.
  • Susan Wood has been promoted to Associate Professor with Tenure.
  • Ken Walsh received funding from Trait Biosciences for his project on  cannabinoids and receptor signaling
  • Jim Fadel and Larry Reagan were chosen by the M1 and M2 students to present "Pearls of Wisdom"
  • Michy Kelly received an NIH award totaling over $2.3 million for her research on "Role of cyclic nucleotide signaling in age-related decline of social memories"
  • Britt Wilson received the Arthur C. Guyton educator of the year award from the American Physiological Society.
  • David Mott received the Distinguished Research Service award from the USC Office of Research
  • State service awards were given to Norma Frizzell (10 years), Kris Kaigler (20 years), Marlene Wilson (30 years) and Alex McDonald (40 years)
  • Larry Reagan was elected into the Alpha Omega Alpha honor medical society.
  • Shayne Barlow, PPN faculty and Attending Veterinarian and Director of the Department of Laboratory Animal Resources received the 2018 Education Foundation Outstanding Service Award
  • Susan Wood receives NIH Award totaling over $2 million in total funding entitled: Estrogen mediated mechanisms of stress susceptibility
  • Chris Wood is the newly appointed Assistant Director of Development for Corporate and Foundation Relations at USC.  Congrats!
  • Susan Wood has been approved as a new associate editor for JPET (Journal of Pharmacology & Experimental Therapeutics).
  • Larry Reagan receives an award for over $400,000 from the Veterans Administration (VA) for purchasing a Quantum CX microCT Imaging System


  • Gerardo Piroli is the recipient of an ASPIRE I (Innovation)  award for studies of 'Intranasal insulin effects on behavioral, morphological and biochemical parameters in a model of Leigh syndrome'

  • Six undergraduate students working in PPN received SURF awards to support their research.  Congratulations to Donzelle Benton (Grillo lab), Lee Augenblick (Wood lab), Maria Bykalo (Reagan lab) and Courtney Wright, Audrey Ditty & Sarisha Menon (all from the Pocivavsek lab).
  • Sarah 'Kitty' Tryon (David Mott mentor) successfully defended her doctoral dissertation
  • Christopher Morgan (Susan Wood mentor) was awarded  research funding through the Galen Health Fellows program.
  • Ashley Galloway (Pavel Ortinski mentor) successfully defended her doctoral dissertation.
  • At the 2019 USC Neuroscience retreat, Josh Bratsch-Prince (David Mott mentor) was awarded best Oral presentation and Anna Marie Buchanan (Larry Reagan mentor) received the award for best graduate trainee poster.
  • Katy Pilarzyk (Michy Kelly mentor) was awarded a 2019 National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Rearch Fellowship.  This highly competitive 3-year fellowship provides an annual stipend of $34,000 plus an annual cost of education allowance of $12,000.
  • Cole Calva (Jim Fadel mentor) successfully defended his doctoral dissertation.
  • Nguyen Vu (David Mott mentor) successfully defended her master's thesis.
  • Melinda Hersey (Reagan and Hashemi labs) received honorable mention for her presentation at the W. Morgan Newton graduate research symposium.
  • Katy Pilarzyk (Michy Kelly mentor) was awarded a 2018-2019 SPARC Graduate Research grant from the Office of Research to support her research on the effects of social isolation.
  • Reagan Farmer (Michy Kelly mentor) receives Magellan Scholar award and Magellan mini-grant for her research.
  • David Smith (Michy Kelly mentor) receives Magellan  mini-grant to fund his research
  • Christopher “Grant” Morgan (Susan Wood mentor) receives Magellan Galen grant for summer research.
  • Stephanie Martin (Norma Frizzell Mentor) successfully defended her Master’s thesis.
  • Victoria Macht (Sandra Kelly and Larry Reagan mentors) successfully defended her PhD thesis entitled: Neurochemistry, Physiology and Behavior in a Model of Gulf War Illness
  • Courtney Pinard, PhD (class of 2009) received the Distinguished Doctorate Alumni Award.  Dr. Pinard completed her doctoral work on amygdalar anatomy with Alex McDonald. 
  • Welcome to Leandro Augusto de Oliveira, a visiting PhD student in Physiological Sciences at State University of São Paulo-UNESP (Araraquara, São Paulo, Brazil) working under supervision of Professor Carlos C. Crestani.  Leandro is a fellow of the FAPESP research agency. 

PPN  award winners at DISCOVER USC 2019:

  • Grant Morgan (Susan Wood mentor):  1st place in Psychology and Neuroscience, A division ('The role of microgila in the locus coeruleus in the cardiovascular sensitivity to stress').
  • Reagan Farmer (Michy Kelly mentor). 1st place in Biology and Biomedical Sciences, C division ('PDE2A mRNA expression is altered in select brain regions of patients with major depressive disorder, schizophrenia, or bipolar disorder).
  • Brittney Calatayud (Susan Wood mentor): 2nd place in Psychology and Neuroscience, B division ('Mechanisms of anxiety-like behavior in females).
  • Lee Augenblick (Susan Wood mentor) Honorable mention in Psychology and Neuroscience, C division ('Effect of clodronate on stess-induced neuroinflammation and anhedonia'). 


Core Courses

  • Medical Physiology (PHPH D621) - M1 medical students.  Course director Britt Wilson
  • Medical Neuroscience (PHPH D603) - M1 medical students.  Course director Jim Fadel
  • Medical Pharmacology (PHPH D631) - M2 medical students.  Course director Larry Reagan
  • Biomedical Pharmacology (PHPH 705) - 6 credit hour, fall semester.  Basic principles of drug action for students in health professions.  Course director Ken Walsh
  • Physiology for the Health Sciences (PHPH 701) - 6 credit hours, spring semester.  Basic principles of human physiology.  Course director Ken Walsh
  • Fundamental Neuroscience I (PHPH 750) - 4 credit hours, fall semester.  Foundations of neuroanatomy and neurophysiology.  Includes hands-on lab experience.  Course director Alex McDonald
  • Fundamental Neuroscience II (PHPH 751) - 4 credit hours, spring semester.  Provides expanded instruction into neurological and neuropsychiatric disorders with a focus on current research.  Course director David Mott
  • Neuroscience (PHPH 740) - 4 credit hours, fall semester.  Covers developmental and cellular neurobiology from a research perspective.  Course director David Mott
  • Neuroscience Seminar (PHPH 742) - 1 credit hour, both spring and fall semesters.  Topics in professional development for scientists.  Course directors vary.  For information, contact David Mott


Biomedical Sciences: Neuroscience Concentration

The Department of Pharmacology, Physiology and Neuroscience also supports a neuroscience concentration for Biomedical Science Ph.D. students.

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.