Western University of Health Sciences Research Western University of Health Sciences

Research in the College of Osteopathic Medicine


Robert Pechnick
Dr. Robert Pechnick, PhD is a Professor of Pharmacology and Pharmacology Discipline Leader in the College of Osteopathic Medicine. Dr. Pechnick joined WesternU in 2012.
The research in Dr. Pechnik’s laboratory is focused on three aspects of neuropsychopharmacology: using animals models to understand the causes of and to develop new potential treatments for various forms of mental illness, utilizing in-vivo and in-vitro approaches to study the neuropharmacology of drugs of abuse, and defining the role of hippocampal neurogenesis in health and disease states. Primary goals of his research include: characterizing the role of developmental insults (prenatal, neonatal and adolescent) in producing neuropsychiatric disorders; defining the involvement of cytokines and stress in neurogenesis and depression; understanding the role of neurogenesis in post-chemotherapy-induced cognitive function, and determining the neurochemical mechanisms underlying the effects of nicotine, cocaine and phencyclidine (PCP), and the pathophysiological and neurochemical consequences of the repeated administration of these drugs. Experimental approaches involve studying the effects of the systemic and central administration of selective agonists, antagonists and antisense oligonucleotides, using transgenic animal models, utilizing viral-mediated gene delivery, and characterizing functional responses as well as changes in receptor subunit gene expression, neurotransmitter levels and neurotransmitter receptors after acute and chronic drug administration. Learn more about Robert Pechnick on his bio page:  Robert Pechnick 


Edward Wagner
Dr. Edward Wagner is an Associate Professor of Physiology. He joined the faculty of the College of Osteopathic Medicine in September, 2001. His research interests focus on how cannabinoids regulate the hypothalamic feeding circuitry to affect changes in feeding behavior and energy homeostasis in male and female subjects, and how gonadal steroids modulate this interaction. He uses state-of-the-art instrumentation to assess cannabinoid-induced changes in daily and hourly food intake, as well as meal size, frequency and duration, core body temperature and weight gain/loss, and how these changes correlate with alterations in neurotransmitter release and cell excitability at anorexigenic proopiomelanocortin (POMC) synapses within the hypothalamic arcuate nucleus. He recently has discovered that males are much more sensitive to the appetite-modulating properties of CB1 receptor agonists and antagonists than females, which correlates with marked sex differences in the pre- and postsynaptic actions of cannabinoids at POMC synapses. These findings indicate that gender should be taken into account when considering the use of cannabinoids in the treatment of HIV/AIDS- or cancer-related cachexia, or obesity. Learn more about  Ed Wagner on his bio page.


Xiaoning Bi
Dr. Xiaoning Bi, joined COMP in 2005 as an associate professor of physiology. Dr. Xioaning Bi’s research focuses on molecularly engineered mice to determine the cellular biology that leads to a rare human neurodegenerative disease, Niemann Pick type C. She has also has been involved in ground breaking studies of the molecular mechanisms of learning and memory and the underlying mechanisms leading to cellular pathology in animal models of Alzheimer s disease. Details of her ongoing research program can be found on her bio  Xiaoning Bi





Take a Look at the College of Osteopathic Medicine’s Website for more information on faculty within this department