Professor David R. Hampson Receives AFPC Pfizer Career Research Award

At the recent Canadian Society for Pharmaceutical Sciences Conference in Toronto, Professor David R. Hampson was presented with the AFPC Pfizer Research Career Award.

Professor Hampson has spent nearly three decades researching the biochemical and molecular basis of neurological and psychiatric disorders, and applying this knowledge to identify potential drug targets. Over this time, he has also trained dozens of Post-Doctoral Fellows and graduate students in the fundamentals of research and medicinal therapy.

The AFPC Pfizer Research Career Award is designed to stimulate and foster the development of research programs in all areas of Pharmacy by recognizing the excellence of academic staff in pharmacy programs across Canada. To be selected for this honor, faculty members must exert a broad influence on pharmaceutical research at the national and international levels and be pursuing an active research career including the supervision of graduate students.

Professor Hampson’s research has focused on investigating the mechanisms and roles of G-protein coupled receptors and their interactions with neurotransmitters or drugs. Because of their importance in neural activation, these receptors are targets for the development of novel therapeutic agents for the treatment of stroke, epilepsy, anxiety, Parkinson’s disease, and Fragile X syndrome. He has published numerous peer reviewed papers on diverse topics in high quality journals including: identifying cellular activation sites affecting brain function; being the first to discover extra-cellular molecular targets that could determine ligand binding and agonist affinity on glutamate receptors; being the first to describe the role of the antioxidant glutathione on the calcium-sensing receptor – thereby revealing similarities to metabotropic glutamate receptor binding sites in the brain, and elucidating the evolutionary biology of the G-protein coupled metabotropic glutamate and related receptors.

More recently, Professor Hampson has been working on recombinant gene delivery into the brain by developing a gene therapy approach for the genetic disorder Fragile X Syndrome, a component of the autism spectrum disorders. Using viral vectors, his team is studying the feasibility of reintroducing a missing protein into the brains of knockout animal models.

From 2009 to 2015, Professor Hampson was the Director of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research Training Program in Biological Therapeutics. Bringing together leaders in the field of biological drug development, this program aims to train young scientists in the design, development, and delivery of biologically based medicines such as antibodies, aptamers, viruses, and the use of viral vectors for gene delivery, proteins and peptides, and anti-sense techniques such as short interfering RNAs and small hairpin RNAs. This program, which encompasses 12 Principal Investigators, has provided a fertile, multi-disciplinary training ground for future biotherapeutic researchers, and has provided incredible research opportunities to 24 graduate students, 17 Post-Doctoral Fellows, 40 undergraduate students, and 7 industry interns.

For these reasons and many others, Professor Hampson was selected as a very deserving recipient of the AFPC Pfizer Research Career Award.