Daniel Foster, Ph.D.
Research Instructor in Pharmacology
Overview of Interests
Dr. Foster is currently establishing a research program that is focused on elucidating the potential utility of targeting muscarinic acetylcholine receptors for treating psychological, neurological, and neurodegenerative disorders. There is currently growing enthusiasm in both academia and the pharmaceutical industry about the M4 muscarinic receptor as a novel target for treating schizophrenia.His research is focused on determining the molecular mechanisms whereby the M4 receptor mediates anti-psychotic like effects, information that will be of critical importance as compounds targeting this receptor start moving towards clinical trials. In addition,Dr. Foster is also very excited about preliminary data recently gathered suggesting that compounds developed at Vanderbilt that target the M4 receptor display robust efficacy in reducing excessive grooming in mice, a phenotype observed in numerous preclinical animal models of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) as well as autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). Future studies will focus on the changes in developmental neurobiology and brain plasticity that occur in preclinical models of schizophrenia, OCD, and ASD and will examine the potential utility of our novel M4-selective compounds as a novel therapeutic approach to modulate disease associated changes in neurotransmission and behavior. These studies will inform and assist ongoing drug discovery efforts and have the potential to lead to much needed novel therapeutic strategies to help patients suffering from these conditions.