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Wayne Bowen

Biology and Pharmacology Professor Wayne Darrell Bowen was born to (mother) and (father) in 1952. As a child, Bowen knew early on that he was interested in pursuing a career in science, and indeed, he went on to earn his B.S. degree in Chemistry from Morgan State College, in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1974. Bowen then pursued a graduate degree with a major in biochemistry and a minor in neuropharmacology, graduating from Cornell University with his Ph.D. degree after completing a thesis on the biochemical process of cholesterol synthesis.
Bowen went on to do his postdoctoral work from 1980 to 1983 at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), a research institute of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) located in Bethesda, Maryland, where his work centered on opiate receptor biochemistry. From 1983 to 1991 Bowen taught courses in endocrinology, introductory biology, and biochemistry at Brown University as an Assistant Professor of Biology. During his time at Brown, Bowen also founded the macromolecular biochemistry facility on campus, which provided campus and surrounding medical facilities with synthetic peptide compounds.
From 1991 until 2004, Bowen served as tenured chief of the Unit on Receptor Biochemistry and Pharmacology at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases in Bethesda, Maryland, working in the Drug Design and Synthesis Section of the Laboratory of Medicinal Chemistry. During his time as Chief, Bowen continued to lecture for undergraduate students at Brown University, serving as both Adjunct Professor of Molecular Biology, Cell Biology, and Biochemistry as well as Adjunct Professor of Neuroscience. During a corresponding period, from 1999 to 2004, Bowen also chaired the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology of the NIH Foundation for Advanced Education in the Sciences Graduate School.
In 2004, Bowen returned to the task of educating future scientists as a full-time Professor of Biology at Brown University, teaching in the Department of Molecular Pharmacology, Physiology, and Biotechnology. Bowen was then appointed Chair of his department in 2007. His research at Brown focuses on the potential for developing new treatments for disease through the understanding of sigma receptors, specifically treatment for neurological disorders and cancer.
Bowen has served as President of the Black Scientists Association at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in 2001and is a member of the Society for Neuroscience, the American Association for Cancer Research, and the International Brain Research Organization/World Federation of Neuroscientists. He has also received a Certificate of Appreciation from the Student and Teacher Internship Program at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and NIH as well as an Award of Appreciation from the Science and Engineering Fair at Morgan State University. In addition, he was also awarded a Certificate of Recognition from the NIH Speakers Bureau and a Special Recognition Award from the Undergraduate Scholarship Program at NIH, as well as numerous research grants.

Accession Number

A2012.216

Sex

Male

Interview Date

10/9/2012

Last Name

Bowen

Maker Category
Middle Name

D.

Occupation
Schools

Morgan State University

Cornell University

Dr. Carter Godwin Woodson Elementary

Baltimore City College

William H. Lemmel Middle

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Wayne

HM ID

BOW07

Favorite Season

Summer

Favorite Vacation Destination

Hawaii

Favorite Quote

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Rhode Island

Interview Description
Birth Date

11/11/1952

Speakers Bureau Region City

Providence

Favorite Food

Steak

Short Description

Biologist Wayne Bowen (1952 - ) is a professor of biology and pharmacology and a biologist studying alternative treatments for disease at Brown University.

Employment

National Institute of Mental Health (NIH)

Brown University

Cornell University

National Institute of Health (NIH)

Smith, Kline and French

Favorite Color

Purple

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Wayne Bowen's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Wayne Bowen lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Wayne Bowen talks about his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Wayne Bowen talks about his mother's education and career

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Wayne Bowen talks about his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Wayne Bowen talks about his father's growing up and his career

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Wayne Bowen talks about how his parents met, married, and later moved to Baltimore, Maryland

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Wayne Bowen talks about his parents' personalities and who he takes after

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Wayne Bowen describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Wayne Bowen describes his childhood neighborhood

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Wayne Bowen describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Wayne Bowen talks about his interest in music during his adolescence

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Wayne Bowen talks about his interest in science and his experiments with his Gilbert chemistry set

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Wayne Bowen talks about his interest in science and his aspirations for a career as a scientist

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Wayne Bowen talks about his family's involvement in both the Baptist and Methodist church

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Wayne Bowen talks about his elementary school, his early science education, his interest in chemistry, and his favorite high school science teachers

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Wayne Bowen talks about his friend's death, his social life in junior high school and his junior high school science projects

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Wayne Bowen talks about his high school extracurricular activities and his interest in photography

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Wayne Bowen talks about his band, St. George's Gate

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Wayne Bowen talks about his experience playing in a musical production

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Wayne Bowen talks about his decision to attend Morgan State University

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Wayne Bowen talks about his high school experience at Baltimore City College, including the demographics of the school and his job as a photographer

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Wayne Bowen talks about missing Jimi Hendricks perform at the Baltimore Civic Center

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Wayne Bowen talks about his mentors, his jobs, and his experience in the chemistry department at Morgan State University

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Wayne Bowen talks about his extracurricular activities and his experience being a commuter student at Morgan State University

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Wayne Bowen talks about his undergraduate research project on porphyrins

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Wayne Bowen talks about his emerging interest in biochemistry and his decision to attend Cornell University

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Wayne Bowen talks about his first research publication and his introduction to the field of pharmacology

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Wayne Bowen talks about his Ph.D. advisor, James Gaylor, and his experience at Cornell University

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Wayne Bowen talks about his dissertation research on the biochemical process of cholesterol synthesis - part one

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Wayne Bowen talks about his dissertation research on the biochemical process of cholesterol synthesis - part two

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Wayne Bowen talks about graduating from Cornell University and his interest in pharmacology at the National Institute of Mental Health

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Wayne Bowen describes his postdoctoral research on the biochemistry of opioid receptors at the National Institute of Mental Health

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Wayne Bowen talks about establishing the Macromolecular Biochemistry Facility at Brown University

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Wayne Bowen describes the pharmacology of sigma receptors

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Wayne Bowen talks about his research on opioid receptors

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Wayne Bowen talks about his research on sigma receptors - part one

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Wayne Bowen talks about the role of sigma receptors in cancer research

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Wayne Bowen talks about his research with sigma receptors - part two

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Wayne Bowen talks about his professional activities and his research on sigma receptors and their implications for cancer research

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Wayne Bowen talks about his research with sigma receptors - part three

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Wayne Bowen talks about the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Black Scientists Association and its initiatives

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Wayne Bowen talks about becoming Chair of the Department of Molecular Pharmacology, Physiology and Biotechnology at Brown University

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Wayne Bowen talks about his duties as Chair of the Department of Molecular Pharmacology, Physiology, and Biotechnology at Brown University

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Wayne Bowen talks about the potential uses of the sigma-1 receptor and emerging areas of research

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Wayne Bowen talks about therapies that have been developed from the sigma 2 receptor

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Wayne Bowen talks about the field of structural biology

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Wayne Bowen talks about how street drugs can inform pharmacological research

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Wayne Bowen talks about the physiology of drug addiction

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Wayne Bowen talks about the hallucinogen, ibogaine, its psychoactive effects, and its potential therapeutic uses

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Wayne Bowen reflects upon his life choices

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Wayne Bowen reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Wayne Bowen shares his advice for aspiring scientists and pharmacologists

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Wayne Bowen talks about his family

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Wayne Bowen talks about his interest in history and the Civil War

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Wayne Bowen talks about his hobbies

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Wayne Bowen talks about how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Wayne Bowen describes his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

5$6

DAStory

4$3

DATitle
Wayne Bowen talks about his professional activities and his research on sigma receptors and their implications for cancer research
Wayne Bowen talks about the potential uses of the sigma-1 receptor and emerging areas of research
Transcript
So, I went back to NIH [National Institutes of Health] in 1991.$$Okay, alright. The director of--$$And became director, a unit chief down there, and stayed down there until 2004.$$Okay.$$And during that whole time I was at NIH, we did, the work was completely focused on sigma receptors. And we published a number of papers showing that sigma receptors were present in an organ now called lipid rafts, and that that might influence their function. We discovered that the sigma receptors, when activated, produces a change of calcium levels in cells, which is a known second messenger that can change signaling and biochemistry in cells. We found that turning on the sigma receptor increases the levels of a lipid called ceramic, which is a toxic lipid that has a number of targets in cells, and can turn on the apoptotic process. And at the same time, we developed a whole series of compounds through our collaboration with a medicinal chemist. The main chemist that I collaborated with was Brian DeCosta, who was at the NIH then. There was another chemist called Craig, his name was Craig Bertha, who made some compounds that we, he made a compound that we're still using today, that's sort of a prototypic selective sigma 2 receptor agonist. We're always interested in--so, once we found that there were two sub-types of the receptor--so, we were first interested in designing compounds that were selected for the sigma receptor system. And we found a few of those. But now what we're trying to do is hone compounds to be selected for either the sigma 1 or the sigma 2 receptor. And we found a few of those, working with our medicinal chemist colleagues. So then in 2004 I moved back to Brown [University], and joined The Department of Molecular Pharmacology Physiology And Biotechnology, and continued to work on the sigma receptor system. And continuing now with more of a focus on what they're doing in tumor cells, how they are affecting cell growth and proliferation, with a main focus on the ability of the sigma 2 receptor to turn on the apoptosis. And the discovery there was that cells that are resistant--forms of cancer that are resistant to chemotherapy, like pancreatic cancer, is resistant to a number of chemotherapeutic approaches, are susceptible to the sigma receptor. So, we can kill--we looked at three different pancreatic cancer cell lines that are readily killed by activating the sigma 2 receptor when these cells are resistant to other types of chemotherapeutic agents. So, the signaling mechanisms that are turned on by the sigma 2 receptor apparently go in directions that bypass a number of the molecules that are mutated in cancer. Cancer is a problem of unrestricted cell growth, so proliferation. And the way cancer cells do that, is they, there are mutations and molecules that are normally designed to turn on the cell death process. So, cells have a, all the cells in your body, with the exception of your neurons, have a time clock in them, and they'll divide for a certain number of times. And then that cell will turn on an apoptotic program, and basically commit suicide.$$This is the process of replenishing--$$The process of replenishing cells. And in cancer cells, that process is sabotaged, it's hijacked, because the biochemistry that's used to turn on that cell death process is altered in tumor cells. So, these cells escape this apoptotic process. And what we're trying to do with these chemotherapeutic agents is turn that process back on. And apparently, what the sigma 2 receptor does is turn on the programs that sort of bypass these roadblocks in the apoptotic pathway, so that if you have a cell that is resistant to chemotherapy, turning on the sigma 2 receptor opens up another pathway, because there are multiple ways to kill a cell. And the tumor cells haven't figured out yet all of those ways. So we try, so the sigma 2 receptor finds a way to exploit a system that's not yet been altered, and that's a very, that will be a very valuable tool. Because if all tumor cell types, or most tumor cell types, express these receptors, then you have sort of a broad spectrum of tools to attack a number of different types of tumors. So, since coming back to Brown [University], we've focused on that. I've had a couple of post-docs that have worked on this project. Shee Wong worked on looking at the mechanism of how the cells are able to use the mitochondrial pathway to turn on cell deaths. This is a relatively novel discovery, that the mitochondria in cells can be involved in committing this type of cell suicide.$Now, where do you see the field of sigma receptors heading in the next decade?$$So, I think we're in a state, at a stage in the field now where we're just beginning to figure out what these receptors might be doing. There are people studying this system from a number of angles. So, most of the, if you were talking to me five years ago, I would say that most of the people in the field are coming into the field from neuroscience, because they were originally thought to be opioid receptors. And so, people of my age group, I guess, generation, started out studying opioid receptors, from a standpoint of the CNS [central nervous system]. But in recent years, the field has branched into other areas. So, one of the areas where the field is going is in the area of drug abuse. It turns out that the sigma 1 receptor is a target for, a potential target, for developing drugs to treat drug abuse. One of my colleagues I collaborated with is Ray Natsomoti, who's now at West Virginia University, and has pioneered this work in showing that the sigma receptor, that the sigma 1 receptor, when it's blocked, will ameliorate some of the toxic effects of cocaine, some of the local motor effects of cocaine. One of the things that, one of the toxicities of cocaine is that it causes convulsions at high dosages. And she found that if you block sigma 1 receptors with sigma 1 receptor antagonists, that you block the convulsive effects of cocaine. And so, and you can do this even after the animal has been given a dose of cocaine, a convulsive dose of cocaine. So, that's a potential therapeutic use of the sigma 1 receptor, targeting the sigma 1 receptor. Others have shown that blockade of the sigma 1 receptor has effects on drug self-administration. So, if you train animals to self-administer cocaine or-- there's a group at Boston [Massachusetts] that's doing alcohol, and give them sigma 1 antagonists, that you can block or inhibit drug self-administration in these animals. But more importantly, it's been shown that blockade of the sigma 1 receptor blocks the process that's called, the process where the animal begins to self-administer again after they've been off the drug for a while, so re-instatement, it's called. So, you if make an animal addicted to cocaine, and give him certain--and then take the animal off cocaine, and then give certain cues, the animal will go back to self-administering cocaine. And this is thought to be what happens in humans, where they go to rehab and they're off drugs for a while, and there are certain cues--stress, other cues, that get them self-administering drugs again. And it's been shown that blocking the sigma 1 receptor will block this re-instatement process. So, there are people who are interested in targeting the sigma 1 receptor for treatment of drug abuse, and I think that's a direction that the field is going to go. The other major direction, also involving a sigma 1 receptor, is learning and memory. The sigma 1 receptor is expressing a part of the brain called the hippocampus. And it's been shown by a group in France that blocking sigma 1 receptors in the hippocampus will induce memory loss in animal models of learning and memory. So, there are several animal models where you can train a rat to find a floating block in a pool. Or, you train a rat to do a certain task, you know, go through a maze to find food. If you give them blockers of sigma 1 receptors after they've been trained, they forget how to do it. If you put a rat in a pool that's been trained to find a block of wood, they can't. They swim around like it's, like they never had that experience. So, the corollary of that the activating sigma 1 receptors must play a role in acquisition of learning and reinstatement of memory. So, there are people who are interested in developing sigma 1 receptor agonists for treatment of memory deficits, like Alzheimer's disease, or just any sort of cognitive defect they have. So, cognitive enhancing agents is another sort of way that the sigma receptor field is going at the current.