College of Pharmacy’s Linda Dwoskin featured in ‘I am a UK Innovator’ series

Video by Jeremy Blackburn and Erin Wickey, Research Communications

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Oct. 3, 2022) — Innovation is a new way of thinking that can often lead to life-changing breakthroughs. Research Communications has partnered with University of Kentucky’s Office of Technology Commercialization (OTC) to recognize faculty innovators with revolutionary ideas in “I am a UK Innovator,” a four-video series. OTC works collaboratively with innovators to strategically assess, protect and license early-stage technologies and co-create new technology startups. 

In this Q&A, Linda Dwoskin discusses the challenges and achieving moments she’s experienced through her work on the development of a pharmacotherapy for methamphetamine use disorder. Dwoskin is a professor in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, holds the University Professorship in Graduate Medical Education in the College of Pharmacy and serves as senior associate vice president for research, special projects.

UKNow: What inspired you to pick this specific area of research?

Dwoskin: All the way back to grammar school, I was interested in the brain. As an undergraduate, I pursued brain research and considered myself a budding neuroscientist. As a postdoc, I delved into how abused drugs affect brain function. When I became a faculty member at the UK College of Pharmacy, my research morphed to focusing on the discovery of therapeutics to treat substance use disorders. Over time, I focused in on finding a pharmacotherapy for methamphetamine use disorder. 

UKNow: What is the most challenging aspect of your research?

Dwoskin: The most challenging aspect of my research is the successive hurdles that must be jumped one by one.  As soon as you overcome one challenge, another one presents itself, forcing you to go back to the drawing board to strategize and overcome each successive problem.

UKNow: What have been the most fulfilling moments for you regarding your discoveries?

Dwoskin: There have been so many. A fulfilling moment is when a graduate student confidently defends their thesis and tells the comprehensive story of their contribution to our research progress. A fulfilling moment is when you give a presentation of your innovative, out-of-the-box research ideas and findings and at the end of the talk, numerous members of the audience immediately raise their hands to excitedly ask insightful questions to which you confidently respond with previously considered answers. A fulfilling moment is when you learn of a fundable score on your research proposal and the continued impending funding of your research program.  A fulfilling moment is when you win a national award bestowed by your peers and colleagues that you are recognized as an innovator.

UKNow: How has your research impacted the way you train students?

Dwoskin: Pharmaceutical science and drug discovery includes a number of different disciplines (e.g., chemistry, pharmacology, behavior). My students need to be conversant in several scientific languages, as well as have depth of knowledge. Students also need to be able to communicate their science and findings both to other scientists and to the lay public to emphasize the potential impact of their research.

UKNow: What inspires you about the University of Kentucky?

Dwoskin: What inspires me about UK is the pervasive and nurtured collaborative research environment and the recognition that the struggle to reach our goals is valued.

Agripina Deaciuc (front) and Linda Dwoskin (back)
Agripina Deaciuc (front), research analyst principal in pharmaceutical sciences in the College of Pharmacy, and Linda Dwoskin (back) work together in Dwoskin’s lab on pharmacotherapies for methamphetamine use disorder.

As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It's all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $476.5 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.   

In 2022, UK was ranked by Forbes as one of the “Best Employers for New Grads” and named a “Diversity Champion” by INSIGHT into Diversity, a testament to our commitment to advance Kentucky and create a community of belonging for everyone. While our mission looks different in many ways than it did in 1865, the vision of service to our Commonwealth and the world remains the same. We are the University for Kentucky.