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Leadership Change, Additions in PPS

College Welcomes Jiukuan Hao as Associate Professor, Ashok Kumar as PPS Department Chair and Hargrove Endowed Professor of Drug Discovery

September 27 — UH College of Pharmacy recently welcomed two new faculty members – Jiukuan Hao, Ph.D., M.D., and Ashok Kumar, Ph.D. – to the college's Department of Pharmacological and Pharmaceutical Sciences (PPS). Hao serves as an associate professor of Pharmaceutics, while Kumar serves as Else and Philip Hargrove Endowed Professor of Drug Discovery, Professor of Pharmacology and PPS Department Chair.

hao photoHao earned his M.D. from China Medical University in China and his Ph.D. in Pharmaceutical Sciences from Texas Tech University. He joins the college from the University of Cincinnati, where started as an assistant professor in 2010, was twice awarded the Research Excellence Award from the UC's James L. Winkle College of Pharmacy, and earned the university's Faculty Excellence Award.

Hao currently is working on a $1.76 million project, "Targeting the Hippo signaling at the Blood-Brain Barrier for Therapy of Ischemic Stroke," supported by the National Institute for Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) through 2023. In this current phase of his research, Hao is investigating the component activators of a signaling pathway as novel drug target for repairing the blood-brain barrier and limiting ischemic stroke-induced damage to the neurological system.

His previous work has been funded by such organizations as the American Heart Association, the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research, Maine Cancer Foundation, and the NINDS. Hao's research has been published in such journals as Neuroscience, Molecular Therapy - Nucleic AcidsFrontiers in Neuroscience, Brain Research and Neuroscience Letters.

kumar photoKumar joins the college from the University of Louisville (UofL) in Louisville, Ky., where he served as a Distinguished University Scholar and Professor in the UofL School of Medicine. Kumar previously held postdoctoral positions at Baylor College of Medicine (BCM) and The University of Texas-MD Anderson Cancer Center, as well as faculty/research positions at BCM, Jerry L. Pettis Memorial Veterans Affairs Medical Center and Loma Linda University School of Medicine. He earned his Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the University of Delhi in India and a M.S. in Computer Science from the University of Houston-Clear Lake.

Kumar's research efforts on focused on the understanding the signaling mechanisms that regulate skeletal muscle development, growth, regeneration and wasting; skeletal muscle stem cell homeostasis and function; and pathophysiological mechanisms in muscular dystrophy and cardiomyopathy. He currently is working on two multi-year National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases grant projects: the $3.11 million "TAK1 Signaling in Skeletal Muscle," through 2023, and the $1.68 million "MYD88 Signaling in Mammalian Myoblast Fusion," through 2020. Kumar not only has been successful in earning National Institutes of Health grant support for his research projects, but also as a sponsor of several predoctoral/postdoctoral NIH grant recipients.

Kumar has authored or coauthored nearly 100 journal articles in such publications as Nature CommunicationsScience Signaling, Journal of Clinical Investigation, Journal of Cell BiologyeLife, FASEB JournalMolecular and Cellular Biology, Human Molecular Genetics, Journal of Biological Chemistry, and Autophagy. He currently serves as an associate editor for Frontiers in Cell and Development Biology as well as an academic editor for PLoS One.