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Dr. Todd Vanderah receives highest faculty distinction as 2023 Regents Professor

April 21, 2023

On behalf of the University of Arizona Health Sciences, I would like to congratulate Todd Vanderah, PhD, professor and department head of the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson’s Department of Pharmacology and director of the UArizona Health Sciences Comprehensive Pain and Addiction Center, on his appointment today as a Regents Professor, a title awarded full professors who have the most distinguished achievements in scholarship, teaching, research or creative work.

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Todd Vanderah, PhD

Dr. Vanderah, a UArizona alumnus, is also co-director of the College of Medicine – Tucson’s MD/PhD dual-degree program.

He is a leader building programs and solutions for the people of Arizona. Dr. Vanderah recognized the feedback loop chronic pain and substance abuse can create and is seeking out creative solutions to ease patients’ suffering. Through his work, a partnership with Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences' National Center for Wellness and Recovery, was formed last year. The partnership will strengthen UArizona’s ability to lead the nation in chronic pain research and treatment on a national level.

Dr. Vanderah’s research focuses on identifying novel molecular targets in the human body and novel compounds that can act on those targets to inhibit chronic pain while not leading to addiction. Specifically, his research looks at cannabinoids for chronic pain management.

A strategic initiative of UArizona Health Sciences, CPAC addresses the opioid epidemic from several fronts, ranging from preclinical and clinical research to clinical care, education, legislation, and technology development. More than 50 million people in the U.S. live with chronic pain, which negatively affects multiple aspects of health, including sleep, cognitive processes and brain function, mood or mental health, and overall quality of life. Dr. Vanderah’s research into the mechanisms of pain make him a leader in the study and treatment of chronic pain.

Dr. Vanderah didn’t just build one program, however, he was instrumental in the development of the Bachelor of Medicine degree, working across the UArizona campus in creating a comprehensive new degree program, all part of his desire to create a program to boost UArizona Health Sciences students.

Earlier this year, Dr. Vanderah was honored as one of 15 UArizona alumni to receive the Alumni of the Year Award.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in molecular and cellular biology in 1991 and a doctorate in pharmacology and toxicology in 1995, both from UArizona. He joined the faculty at the College of Medicine – Tucson in 1997. He is also a member of the BIO5 Institute.

Please join me in celebrating this well-deserved recognition for his outstanding contributions to not only research but building partnerships and programs that advance the University of Arizona Health Sciences at home and around the country.

Michael D. Dake, MD
Senior Vice President for University of Arizona Health Sciences