Colleen Niswender earned her BA in pharmacy with honors in pharmacology at the University in Toledo and her PhD in pharmacology from Vanderbilt University in 1996. She then pursued postdoctoral studies with Dr. G. Stanley McKnight at the University of Washington.During her graduate and postdoctoral career, Dr. Niswender employed molecular and genetic approaches to study mechanisms of the regulation of G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) and intracellular signaling pathways.
She joined the Program in Drug Discovery at Vanderbilt in 2004 and has assumed responsibility for directing the molecular pharmacology efforts required for high throughput screening and lead optimization. She has served as principal investigator on multiple NIH-supported efforts that have led to successful identification of novel pharmacological tools for GPCRs. Her current work is focused on discovery and characterization of novel allosteric modulators of GPCRs and optimization of these compounds for clinical development. She is especially interested in the discovery on novel ligands for mGluR4 and other Gi/o-coupled group III mGluRs for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease and other CNS disorders.