Division Head

Dr. Karen VasquezKaren Vasquez, Ph.D. serves as head of the Division of Pharmacology and Toxicology, one of five divisions within the College of Pharmacy.

Her lab’s research efforts are focused in three general areas within an overall theme of genome instability, DNA damage and mechanisms of repair. A unique feature of our approach is an emphasis on the role of DNA structure, including non-canonical structures such as triplex DNA, as recognition sites for repair machinery, sources of genomic instability, and as a basis for technology to target DNA damage to specific genomic sites.

Visit Dr. Vasquez’ site to learn more about her research interests.


The mission of the Division of Pharmacology and Toxicology is to contribute to the fields of pharmacology and toxicology through excellence in research as well as through the training of students in order to provide the next generation of leaders in these fields. This mission is accomplished through faculty driven research projects, formal training of graduate students in pharmacology and toxicology and opportunities for undergraduate students in research.

Programmatic Priorities

The priorities of the Division of Pharmacology and Toxicology are explicitly targeted on scholarly excellence in research and graduate education. The following bullets rank order these priorities from highest to lowest:

  • Promote faculty to become engaged in new multi-investigator collaborative research projects as well as to take upon leadership roles in the emerging interdisciplinary initiatives on campus.
  • Expand and enhance the Division’s graduate training program by increasing the level of support for graduate students and desirability of the program to promote the matriculation and retention of the most competitive applicants.
  • Double the level of extramural funding within the Division through new individual faculty grant awards as well as through multi-investigator interdisciplinary initiatives.

Career Opportunities

Career opportunities in pharmacology and toxicology are excellent. Medical centers, pharmacy schools, and private facilities employ pharmacologists and toxicologists to conduct research and to teach medical, dental, pharmacy and nursing courses to graduate students. The pharmaceutical and chemical industries hire pharmacologists and toxicologists to test new drugs and chemicals for their utility and safety. Government agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration, National Institutes of Health, and the Public Health Service also utilize pharmacologists and toxicologists in basic research and in formulating drug laws and chemical regulations.

Further information such as average salaries and job markets can be found by visiting the student sections for the corresponding professional society web pages – American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics or Society of Toxicology.

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