Tom Cunningham

Tom Cunningham

Tom Cunningham, Ph.D.

Regents Professor and Associate Dean


  • PhD, University of Iowa, 1988



Personal Bio

I did my graduate training in the Department of Psychology and Cardiovascular Research Center at the University of Iowa with Alan Kim Johnson. My postdoctoral training was with Leo Renaud, M.D., Ph.D. at McGill University and the University of Ottawa followed by work with Francois Abboud, M.D. at the University of Iowa. I am currently a Professor in Physiology and Anatomy and Associate Dean for Research in the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. At the University of Missouri, I was Block Director for the Neuroscience block for first year medical students for 7 years. After that I was recruited to the Department of Pharmacology at UT Health San Antonio. I have been at the HSC since 2009. I am from East St. Louis, Illinois and still have a lot of family in the Midwest. I like to cook for my family and I practice yoga regularly.

Research Area

Our laboratory studies the role of the central nervous system in body fluid homeostasis and blood pressure regulation. We have conducted this type of research with continuous funding from NIH since 1995. Our long-term goal is to determine how changes in CNS network function contribute to chronic pathophysiological states. We perform experiments using animal models of cardiovascular disease to investigate the role of the central nervous system in states of chronic sympathetic activation using radio telemetry and chronic instrumentation to deliver pharmacological tools such as viral vectors with dominant negative constructs or shRNA to regions of the nervous system. Our laboratory studies the central control of vasopressin release to define osmotic and nonosmotic regulatory mechanisms that contribute to the physiological control of body fluid balance during physiological challenges and pathophysiological states. We also study the role of the central nervous system in animal models of hypertension. Recently, this research program has focused on a model of hypertension related to the intermittent hypoxemia associated with sleep apnea.

Research Keywords

Neuroscience, Physiology, Hypertension, Fluid Balance, Angiotensin, Vasopressin

Current Projects

  • Neural Control of Vasopressin (R01 HL142341) Role of the PVN in Sodium Sensitive Hypertension (R01 HL141406) CIH Hypertension: Role of the Lamina Terminalis (R01 HL155977)

Current Funding

  • P01 HL088052 (G. Toney) R01 HL142341(R. Cunningham, J. Yuan) R01 HL141406 (Wainford) R01 HL155977 (G. Toney)

Teaching Interests

  • Neurophysiology Neuroendocrinology Entrepreneurship Scientific Communications

UNTHSC Committees and Service

  • Research Advisory Council
  • President’s Campus Re-Opening Committee

National/International Committees and Service

  • 2017-2019 Chair, Neuroendocrinology, Neuroimmunology Rhythms and Sleep study section, NIH CSR