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Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology

Richard D. Howells, Ph.D.


Medical Science Building (MSB)
185 South Orange Avenue Room E-643
Newark , NJ 07101
Phone: (973) 972-5652
Fax: (973) 972-5594



Richard D. Howells, PhD, received his BA in Biochemistry from Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ, and his PhD under the mentorship of Dr. Eric J. Simon at New York University. Dr. Howells received postdoctoral training at the Roche Institute of Molecular Biology working with the Founding Director of the Institute, Dr. Sidney Udenfriend, a member of the prestigious National Academy of Sciences. Dr. Howells was recruited to UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School as an Assistant Professor in 1987, and is currently a Professor in the Department of Microbiology, Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics. His research has focused on opioids, opioid peptides, and opioid receptors, and has received funding from the NIH-National Institute on Drug Abuse, the NJ Commission on Cancer Research, the Foundation of UMDNJ, and the New Jersey Health Foundation. He has served on several Study Sections, with a long tenure on the NIDA Training and Career Development Subcommittee. From 2003 to 2011, Dr. Howells served as Assistant Dean for the MD/PhD Program at NJMS. To date, Dr. Howells has mentored ten PhD students, as well as many Masters students and Postdoctoral Fellows. Dr. Howells was recognized for twenty five years of disntinguished service to NJMS in 2012. In 2013, Dr.Howells received the Foundation of UMDNJ Excellence in Research Award.



Ph.D., 1983, New York University






Relevant Publications:

Mundra, J.J., Terskiy, A. and Howells, R.D., Naltrindole inhibits human multiple myeloma cell proliferation in vitro and in a murine xenograft model in vivo. J. Pharmacol. Exp. Ther., 342: 273-287, 2012.
Peng, Y., Zhang, Q., Arora, S., Keenan, S.M., Kortagere, S., Wannemacher, K.M., Howells, R.D. and Welsh, W.J., Novel delta opioid receptor agonists exhibit differential stimulation of signaling pathways. Bioorg Med Chem. 17(17): 6442-50, 2009.
Unterwald, E.M. and Howells, R.D. Upregulation of opioid receptors. In Opioid receptors and antagonists: From bench to clinic. Contemporary Neursoscience series. Eds. Reginald L. Dean III, Edward J. Bilsky, and S. Steven Negus III, Humana Press, a part of Springer Science + Business Media, LLC Totowa, NJ, 2009.
Wannemacher, K., Terskiy, A., Bian, S., Yadav, P.N., Li, H. and Howells, R.D. Purification and mass spectrometric analysis of the ¿ opioid receptor. Brain Res., 1230: 13-26, 2008.
Terskiy, A., Wannemacher, K.M., Yadav, P.N., Tian, B. and Howells, R.D. Search of the human proteome for endomorphin-1 and endomorphin-2 precursor proteins. Life Sciences, 81: 1593-1601, 2007.
Wannemacher, K.M., Yadav, P.N. and Howells, R.D. A select set of opioid ligands induce up regulation by promoting the maturation and stability of the rat kappa opioid receptor in human embryonic kidney 293 cells. J. Pharmacol. Exp. Ther., 323: 614-625, 2007.
Yadav, P., Chaturvedi, K. and Howells, R.D. Inhibition of agonist-induced down regulation of the delta opioid receptor with a proteasome inhibitor attenuates opioid tolerance in human embryonic kidney 293 cells. J. Pharmacol. Exp. Ther., 320: 1186-1194, 2007.
Zhang, Q., Keenan, S.M., Peng, Y., Nair, A.C., Yu, S.-J., Howells, R.D., and Welsh, W.J. Discovery of novel triazole-based opioid receptor antagonists. J. Med. Chem., 49: 4044-4047, 2006.
Christoffers KH, Li H, Howells, RD Purification and mass spectrometric analysis of the delta opioid receptor. Brain Res Mol Brain Res. 136: 54-64, 2005.


Courses Taught


Current Research

Richard Howells, Ph.D. is a professor in the Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology. Dr. Howells’s lab is interested in studying the pharmacological chaperone activity of select opioid ligands that promote proper receptor folding during their biosynthesis in the secretory pathway, leading to enhanced expression of mature active opioid receptors at the cell surface. Recent results from the lab have shown that select delta antagonists inhibit the proliferation of malignant human multiple myeloma cells. These opioids also attenuate the development of tolerance and dependence following chronic morphine treatment but do not block morphine’s acute analgesic activity. The therapeutic potential of these drugs as anti-cancer agents is being actively pursued.



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