A Career in Pharmacology: In Search of Beauty and Joy


Sue Piper Duckles received her BA from UC Berkeley and her PhD from UC San Francisco, followed by postdoctoral work at UCLA. She rose through tenure appointments at UCLA Medical School and University of Arizona School of Medicine before arriving at the School of Medicine, University of California, Irvine, where she remains today with a dual appointment as Professor of Pharmacology and Associate Dean for Faculty Development. Her outstanding research career and her unparalleled devotion to the teaching and discipline of pharmacology are recognized with this year’s bestowal of the 2007 Sollmann Award for Career Achievement from ASPET1.

In her research role, Duckles has investigated how various elements of the blood vessel wall—endothelial cells, smooth muscle cells, and nerves—interact to control vessel caliber. Her work has elucidated unique characteristics of cerebral blood vessels, encompassing the impact of gonadal steroids and aging on vascular function. In her role as Associate Dean for Faculty Development, she has developed innovative, high-impact programs to support the career development of young faculty. A gifted leader, she has advocated for pharmacology at both the national and international levels, serving in various leadership roles, including: President of ASPET; Vice President for Science Policy for FASEB; and Secretary General of IUPHAR. She is currently President of the International Union of Basic and Clinical Pharmacology. In addition to the Sollmann Award, the 2007 Award in Excellence in Pharmacology and Toxicology was conferred upon Duckles by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America Foundation. She has indelibly marked and advanced each of the institutions she has touched, and her keen insight and generosity continue to do honor to the discipline of pharmacology. Here, Sue Duckles describes her approach to science as a reflection of a life spent in exploration and discovery.

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