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Paavo Honkakoski Delivers Nuclear Receptor Short Course at UNC

January 22, 2018
Eshelman School of Pharmacy

Paavo Honkakoski, professor of the School of Pharmacy and Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Eastern Finland, presented a short course on nuclear receptor regulation at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Eshelman School of Pharmacy in January.

In two-hour sessions held over three days, Honkakoski covered the basics of nuclear receptors, including receptor structure and function, measurement of receptor activation, their importance in human physiology, disease and drug therapy, the development of selective NR modulators and examples for diseases of the central nervous system. He then discussed nuclear receptors and absorption, distribution, metabolism and excretion, and the regulators PXR and CAR along with other nuclear receptors important in drug metabolism and transport.

Honkakoski’s visit was supported, in part, by a mobility agreement funded by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union and coordinated by the School’s Office of Research and Graduate Education. In addition to the short course, he participated in extensive Q&A sessions with UNC students and provided one-on-one mentoring to doctoral students and postdoctoral fellows on their research projects.

“We appreciate Dr. Honkakoski taking the time to share his knowledge,” said Kim L.R. Brouwer, associate dean for research and graduate education. “It was a wonderful opportunity to learn from one of the global experts on nuclear receptors.”

Honkakoski received his doctorate in 1992 on the characterization and regulation of phenobarbital-inducible cytochrome P450 enzymes from the University of Kuopio, Finland. He was a postdoctoral fellow from 1992 to 1997 in the Laboratory of Reproductive and Developmental Toxicology at NIEHS/NIH in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, where his seminal work on the discovery of the nuclear receptor CAR provided the molecular foundation for induction of drug metabolism and disposition. Recently, he was a visiting professor in 2014-2015 at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy.

His current research revolves around regulation of drug metabolizing enzymes and drug transporters, properties of nuclear receptors and their applications to assess drug ADMET properties. He has published more than 100 peer-reviewed papers garnering over 4,800 citations. He is active in both graduate and doctoral education, having supervised more than 50 master’s and 11 doctorate theses. He served as a director of graduate schools/doctoral programs in drug research at UEF from 2008 to 2017. He also served as a vice dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences with responsibilities in research infrastructure and doctoral programs from 2012 to 2017.

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