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Zhan-Guo Gao, M.D., Ph.D.

Professional Experience

  • M.D., Medical College of Weifang, 1988
  • M.Sci., Beijing Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology, 1993
  • Ph.D., Leiden University, 2000

Research Goal

The knowledge we gained by studying the structure, function, and regulation of G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) should be very useful for the development of drugs with highly improved therapeutic effects and fewer side effects.

Current Research

My principal research interests are centered on the structure, function, and regulatory mechanisms of GPCRs, especially adenosine receptors and P2Y nucleotide receptors. Allosteric modulation of GPCRs has been my main research project for the past 20 years. In addition to the traditional GPCR signaling studies, I am also interested in novel signaling pathways, including arrestin GPCR signaling, and in novel concepts such as functional selectivity. I am also interested in using mathematical models to quantify and analyze drug effects and mechanisms.

Applying Our Research

Our basic research can help the public understand the mechanisms of drug actions. It can also provide a basis for other scientists and the industry to develop novel drugs. Our application research may lead directly to the discovery and development of drugs.

Need for Further Study

Areas in this field that need further study include the structures and the dynamic nature of receptors, the signaling pathways related to receptors and various conditions, the novel roles of receptors, and the novel mechanisms of drug action.

Select Publications

Adenosine A2A receptor antagonists: from caffeine to selective non-xanthines.
Jacobson KA, Gao ZG, Matricon P, Eddy MT, Carlsson J.
Br J Pharmacol (2020 May 18) Abstract/Full Text
Allosteric Antagonism of the A2A Adenosine Receptor by a Series of Bitopic Ligands.
Gao ZG, Toti KS, Campbell R, Suresh RR, Yang H, Jacobson KA.
Cells (2020 May 12) 9. Abstract/Full Text
View More Publications

Research in Plain Language

My research is in the field of pharmacology. My goal is to gain a better understanding of the ways that cells communicate with each other, and with certain medications, to help fight disease. I work on G protein-coupled cell surface receptors (GPCRs), with a focus on adenosine receptors and P2Y receptors. GPCRs are proteins on special areas of the cell membrane that are involved with cell communication. They are targets for a good portion of all medicines that we use today, acting as a sort of communications bridge between the drugs and the body’s cells. Adenosine receptors and P2Y receptors are two families of GPCRs that help deliver important drug messages for fighting many health conditions.