Ronald L. Alkana, PharmD, PhD
Pharmacology and Pharmaceutical Sciences
Phone: (323) 442-1429
Fax: (323) 442-1704
Dr. Alkana uses a multidisciplinary approach to investigate the mechanisms of action of psychoactive drugs at the cellular and molecular levels. His overall goal is to increase understanding of the neurochemical basis of brain function and behavior in order to develop new prevention and treatment strategies for alcoholism, drug abuse and psychological disorders.
Current areas of emphasis in the laboratory include: Behavioral -- loss of righting reflex, locomotor activity, convulsant-anticonvulsant effects, learning and memory, aggression and anxiety. Biochemical -- chloride ion uptake, high affinity binding, gas chromatographic drug analyses. Electrophysiological -- 2-electrode voltage clamp. Molecular -- Xenopus oocyte expression system. Hyperbaric (increased atmospheric pressure) -- novel ethanol antagonist and selective uncoupler of allosteric modulation of ligand-gated ion channels (LGICs). These studies are carried out in collaboration with Dr. Daryl Davies in the Alcohol and Brain Research Laboratory at USC.
Ronald L. Alkana received his Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) degree from USC and his Ph.D. in Biological Sciences (Psychobiology) from UC-Irvine. He is currently Professor of Molecular Pharmacology and Toxicology and Associate Dean of Graduate Studies and Curricular Development at the University of Southern California School of Pharmacy. His primary teaching and research emphasis is on the pharmacology and toxicology of drugs that affect the brain and behavior. He has over 100 publications and abstracts in these areas and has received numerous grants and awards for his research and teaching. He was elected to organize the 1993 Gordon Conference on Alcohol, served as vice-president of the Southern California Chapter of the Society of Toxicology, serves on the Neuron and Glia NSF Grant Review Panel and was named the 1999 Outstanding Alumnus of the Year for the USC School of Pharmacy.
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Low Level Hyperbaric Ethanol Antagonism (Principal Investigator), National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, National Institutes of Health.
Investigating the Structural Basis of Allosteric Coupling in GABAA Receptors Using Increased Atmospheric Pressure (Principal Investigator), National Science Foundation.
Pressure-Based Pharmacological Alcoholism Treatments, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, National Institutes of Health.
Selected Projects/PublicationsDavies DL,Crawford DK,Trudell JR, Mihic SJ,Alkana RL. Multiple sites of ethanol action in alpha1 and alpha2 glycine receptors suggested by sensitivity to pressure antagonism. J Neurochem  Jun;89(5):1175-85.
Davies DL,Kochegarov AA,Kuo ST,Kulkarni AA,Woodward JJ,King BF, Alkana RL. Ethanol differentially affects ATP-gated P2X(3)and P2X(4) receptor subtypes expressed in Xenopus oocytes. Neuropharmacology Aug; 49(2):243-53.
Davies DL,Asatryan L,Kuo ST,Woodward JJ,King BF, Alkana RL,Xiao C,Ye JH,Sun H,Shang L,Hu XQ,Hayrapetyan V,Lovinger DM,Machu TK. Effects of ethanol on adenosine 5'-triphosphate-gated purinergic and 5-hydroxytryptamine receptors. Alcohol Clin Exp Res [2006}Feb; 30 (2):349-58.