Denise M. Inman, PhD
Vice Chair and Associate Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences
I earned my BS in Biology with a minor in Psychology from Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA. I went to the University of Virginia where I earned my PhD in Neuroscience, working in the laboratory of Dr. Oswald Steward and investigating the mechanisms of secondary degeneration after spinal cord injury. In order to obtain more insight into regenerative programs that might be harnessed after neurotrauma, I spent one year at the University of California, San Francisco in a post-doctoral fellowship with Dr. Nathalie Compagnone studying neural development. Thereafter, I joined the laboratory of Dr. Philip Horner at the University of Washington to investigate whether we could harness endogenous progenitor cells to replace cells lost during glaucoma. However, we determined we should start by understanding the mechanisms of glaucoma development, and that is what I have been investigating ever since. My first faculty position was at Northeast Ohio Medical University (NEOMED) in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences where I continued my research, focusing on the metabolic vulnerability of retinal ganglion cells and their axons in glaucoma. After 7 years in Ohio, I moved to Fort Worth to join the faculty in Pharmaceutical Sciences at UNTHSC. I also am affiliated with the North Texas Eye Research Institute.
Teaching Areas & Interests:
I have taught pharmacy, medical, and graduate students a variety of courses that include anatomy and physiology, pharmacotherapy, ocular pharmacology, ocular physiology, human values in medicine, research writing, research methodology, medical neuroscience, and cellular & molecular neuroscience. I enjoy teaching one-on-one in the laboratory setting and have mentored dozens of students at every level who are learning how to engage in research.
Professional Activities & Awards:
I belong to the Society for Neuroscience, the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO), the International Society of Eye Research (ISER), and the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics (ASPET). I review manuscripts for several ophthalmological and general-interest neuroscience journals. Beginning in graduate school, I have been engaged in neuroscience outreach to schools, especially during Brain Awareness Week in March. Ohio Magazine named me to its “Excellence in Education” issue for my teaching at NEOMED in 2013. In 2016, I was Junior Faculty of the Year at the Northeast Ohio Medical University. I was also an Academic Leadership Scholar in 2016.
My laboratory investigates how energy generation and utilization is impacted by chronic diseases such as glaucoma. Our work has shown that the visual system undergoes metabolic decline during glaucoma development. That decline occurs in mitochondria, but also in the various transporters that supply substrate to the mitochondria or glycolysis for energy production. We have been able to limit the metabolic decline and halt glaucomatous progression by increasing a transporter that moves pyruvate and lactate into the retinal ganglion cells and their axons. We are also interested in the interaction of neurons and glia in the retina and optic nerve, two structures impacted by glaucoma, because of the metabolic coupling that exists between these cell types, and the implications those interactions have for disease. My research has been supported by the National Eye Institute (R01-EY026662), and the International Retinal Research Foundation.