Biochemistry, Cancer Biology, Neuroscience & Pharmacology

The Department of Biochemistry, Cancer Biology, Neuroscience & Pharmacology provides comprehensive training disciplines with education, research, and career development in the field of biochemistry and cancer biology to Ph.D. students, including African Americans and other under-represented ethnic minorities. Faculty, staff, students, and administration work together to decipher the complexity of cancers and eliminate the cancer burden and disparities; our department is one of the few biochemistry and cancer biology departments in the nation.


Students are challenged with fundamental questions on cancers that focus on specific organs such as breast, prostate, ovarian, leukemia, lung and colon through coursework, technology, and research experience. The research-training model applies state-of-art technology to cultured human cancer cells, animal models and imaging in vivo. Our students are supported with funding from the National Institutes of Health T32 and R25 training grants, National Cancer Institute’s F31 fellowships, U.S. Department of Defense training grants, cancer partnership grants, and scholarships from other private agencies.


Another notable strength in our department, with regard to Meharry’s mission, is its vital cultural diversity. Our faculty and staff hail from all over the world, which enhances our efforts to decipher the complexity of cancers and eliminate the cancer burden and health disparities.

Twenty percent of the nation’s Ph.Ds in Neuroscience were trained right here at Meharry. Graduate, medical, and dental scholars are trained to conduct basic, translational, clinical, social, and behavioral research, generating new knowledge that contributes to the nation’s effort to reduce health disparities in the areas of neurological disease, mental health, and drug abuse/addiction—including alcoholism.


Along those same lines, we provide students with an intensive knowledge of pharmacology as a science, exposing them to pharmacological research methodologies that provide skill in the practice of the science, and the opportunity to apply these skills in pharmacological research. Students gain a problem-solving approach to the understanding of pharmacology that makes a reasoned, objective correlation between pharmacological and other types of knowledge; this approach serves as both a foundation and methodology toward solutions.


To this end, our strong research program rounds out the student experience.


Students perform research with faculty whose interests range from the molecular neurobiology of cellular signaling and synaptic plasticity, to the neurobiology of complex animal behavior, to toxin/environmentally based neurological disorders.

Department News

Dr. Clivel Charlton, Professor of Neuroscience and Pharmacology at Meharry Medical College, recently had his article entitled “Methylation reactions at dopaminergic nerve endings, serving as biological off-switches in managing dopaminergic functions” published in Neural Regeneration Research. Click here to access the article.

Department Events

Journal Club
Mondays from noon–1:00 p.m., except holidays, Summer, and Winter breaks.

Given by second-year students, post-docs, and faculty members. Each presenter discusses one latest publication on cancer research, and shares his/her understanding and thoughts.

Work in Progress
Fridays from noon–1:00 p.m., except holidays, Summer, and Winter breaks.

Given by second-year students, post-docs, and faculty members. Each presenter shows his/her research progress and obtains constructive feedback from the audience.

Held two or three times each academic year, scientists from other institutions are invited to preside.


Lab Meetings for Prospective Members

Prospective lab members are invited to attend any of our weekly lab meetings:

  • Dr. Zhenbang Chen’s Lab: Wednesdays from 9:00 a.m.-10:30 a.m.
  • Dr. Chandravanu Dash’s Lab: Fridays at 9:00 a.m.
  • Dr. Jamaine Davis’ Lab: Wednesdays from 2:30 p.m.-3:30 p.m.
  • Dr. Shawn Goodwin’s Lab: Thursdays from 11:00 a.m.-12 p.m.
  • Dr. Anil Shanker’s Lab: Mondays from 3:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m.
  • Dr. LaMonica Stewart’s Lab: Wednesdays at 2:00 p.m.
  • Dr. Sanika Chirwa’s Lab: Mondays from 8:00 a.m.-10:00 a.m. and Fridays from 2:00 p.m.-4:00 p.m.


The Ralph J. Cazort Heritage Lecture Series
Held on the first Wednesday of April each year, the annual Ralph J. Cazort Heritage Lecture series is sponsored by an endowment from The Sterling Drug Visiting Professor Program in honor of department founder Ralph Jerry Cazort, M.D. Established in 1984 to finance a Visiting Professorship in Pharmacology and promote the interchange of knowledge between colleges and universities in the field of pharmacology, each visiting professor should be a scholar of superior distinction in a discipline of interest and significance to the students and faculty of the college.

Contact Biochemistry, Cancer Biology, Neuroscience & Pharmacology

Department of Biochemistry & Cancer Biology
Second Floor, Suite 2104,
Harold West Basic Science Building,
Meharry Medical College
School of Medicine
1005 Dr. D. B. Todd, Jr. Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37208

Main Department Telephone: 615.327.6345
Fax: 615.327.6442


Learn a little more about applying to the program.

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