College of Veterinary Medicine > Research > Symposium > Keynote

Dr. Hildegard Schuller

Hildegard Schuller, DVM, PhD
Department of Pathobiology
University of Tennessee
College of Veterinary Medicine

Dr. Hildegard Schuller is an established, NIH-funded investigator whose research focuses on the role of neurotransmitter receptors in tobacco-associated cancer. She a major contributing investigator in Tennessee and is a faculty member in the Comparative and Experimental Medicine (CEM) graduate program. Before joining the University of Tennessee’s (UT) Pathobiology Department as a professor in 1985, she held several different positions at the National Cancer Institute in Frederick and Bethesda, MD. Dr. Schuller has a total of 223 peer-reviewed publications (and counting) and was promoted to distinguished professor at UT in 1994. Since 2001, Dr. Schuller has brought in over $5 million in extramural research support for UT.

These funding dollars, and those before them, have formed a solid foundation for the study of nitrosamines, cancer-causing substances formed from nicotine. The tobacco-specific nitrosamine NNK reacts with nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) in cells, resulting in hyperstimulation of these receptors, a reaction that stimulates intracellular signaling pathways that regulate cancer cells. In her laboratory, Dr. Schuller has determined that many of nicotine's biological effects may be caused by the interaction of nitrosamines (like NNK) with nAChRs. Still, a host of factors in the human environment affects the sensitivity of these receptors, making it important to develop tools to identify hyperstimulation in individual patients. Dr. Schuller's research provides a foundation for the development of novel, "custom-tailored" cancer prevention and treatment strategies based on that hyperstimulation.

As the third keynote speaker for the CEM symposium, Schuller follows Dr. Michael Zemel (Dept. of Nutrition at UT, 2007 speaker) and Dr. Robert Webster (St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, 2008 speaker), both leaders in their field in Tennessee and world-wide.