Jane Elizabeth Cavanaugh, PhD
Associate Professor of Pharmacology
  • Duquesne University Mylan School of Pharmacy
    Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA
    Phone: (412) 396-6358
    E-mail: cavanaughj@duq.edu


1997 PhD Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine, Hershey, PA, USA
1991-1992 BA Franklin and Marshall College, Lancaster, PA, USA


Dr. Jane Elizabeth Cavanaugh has a diverse background in the pharmacology, with training in in vivo and in vitro models of aging and intracellular signaling. Her graduate training focused on the neurobiology of the serotonergic system in the CNS using in vivo extracellular electrophysiological and in situ hybridization techniques. As a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Washington, she broadened her training to include in vitro models of cell death with an emphasis on primary cultures and cell signaling pathways. During this time, she was the first to characterize the role of a novel mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signaling pathway, extracellular signal-regulated kinase 5 (ERK5) in neuronal survival and described the regulation of the pathway during brain development. At the University of Pittsburgh, she combined her expertise with in vivo and in vitro models to further explore alterations in the MAPK pathways. As PI or co-Investigator on several previous university- and NIH-funded grants, including a K01 award, she was able to define a role for ERK5 in dopaminergic neuronal survival and began to characterize the cellular events that underlie age-related neurodegeneration with normal and diseased aging. Since moving to Duquesne University in December 2006, she has broadened her research interests to include cancer cell biology. To this end, she received an R15 from the NCI to investigate the role of the ERK5 pathway in breast cancer cell models, both in vitro and in vivo. In summary, she has extensive training and successful research projects involving in vitro and in vivo models and cell signaling, specifically ERK5 pathway regulation, and long time interest and experiences in the signaling research area.

Research Interests

  • Cancer cell biology
  • Neurobiology and Cancer biology of aging

Scientific Activities

Teaching Experience

2015-Present Associate Professor of Pharmacology, Mylan School of Pharmacy, Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, PA, USA
2006-2015 Assistant Professor of Pharmacology, Mylan School of Pharmacy, Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, PA, USA
2002-2006 Research Assistant Professor, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, USA
2000 - 2002 Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA
1997 - 2000 Postdoctoral Fellow, NIA Training Grant, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA
1994 - 1997 NIA Interdisciplinary Training Grant on Aging, Fellowship, Pennsylvania State University Gerontology Center, PA, USA
Professional Activities

2016-Present Member, AACP Research and Graduate Affairs Committee
2015-Present Faculty Senate Representative, Duquesne University
2015-Present Member, AACP SIG on graduate education
2014 Speaker, Bethel Park High School, Pittsburgh, PA, USA
2013-Present Girl Scouts of Western PA, co-leader
2012-Present American Association of Cancer Research
2007-Present American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy
2004-Present Faculty for Undergraduate Neuroscience
1996-1998 Middle-Atlantic Pharmacological Society, Member
1994-1997 American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, Member
1994-Present Society for Neuroscience, Member

1. U.S. Patent Application Serial No. 14/081,426
Entitled: Carboxylic Acid Ester Prodrug Inhibitors of MEK
File No. 049450-00285-1 (00288)
2. U.S. Patent Application No. 15/021,592
PCT International Patent Application No. PCT/US2014/055143
Title: Novel Anthranilic Amides and the Use Thereof

Honors & Awards


Duquesne University Office of Research Hall of Fame Inductee
2014, 2015 First Place poster award, University of Pittsburgh Aging Institute Research Symposium

Molecular Biology of Aging Course Participant, Marine Biological Laboratories, Woods Hole, MA


Travel Award Fellowship, 37th Winter Conference on Brain Research


National Institute on Aging, 2003 Summer Institute on Aging Research, Participant
- 1 of 43 participants chosen to attend workshop

Graduate Student Commencement Speaker, Pennsylvania State College of Medicine


Middle-Atlantic Pharmacological Society Spring Meeting, Poster Competition, First Place


Graduate Research Exhibition, Pennsylvania State University, Poster Competition, Third Place, Life Science Division


ASPET Student Travel Award for Experimental Biology
1995-1997 Dissertation Study Animals Award, National Institute on Aging
1995-1996 Alumni Endowed Scholarship, Pennsylvania State University


  1. J.N. Spencer, J.E. Mihalick, T.J. Nicholson, P.A. Cortina, J.L. Rinehimer, J.E. Smith, Xiaoming Ke, Qing He, S.E. Daniels, S. Puppala, J.L. Ealy, L.J. Fenton, W.J. Nicholson, I.M. Paul, C.H. Yoder. Comparison of Macrocyclic Effect for Ether Hosts in Aqueous and Organic Solvents. J. Phys. Chem. 97:10509-10512, 1993.
  2. J.E. Smith, J.M. Lakoski. Electrophysiological effects of fluoxetine and duloxetine in the dorsal raphe nucleus and hippocampus. Eur. J. Pharm. 323: 69-73, 1997.
  3. J.E. Smith, J.M. Lakoski. An electrophysiological study of the effects of the reuptake inhibitor duloxetine on serotonergic responses in the aging hippocampus, Pharmacology. 55: 66-77, 1997.
  4. J.E. Smith, J.M. Lakoski. Cellular electrophysiological effects of chronic fluoxetine and duloxetine administration on serotonergic responses in aging hippocampus. Synapse, 30: 318-328, 1998.
  5. L.W. Maines, B.J. Keck, J.E. Smith, J.M. Lakoski. Corticosterone regulation of serotonin transporter and 5-HT1A receptor expression in the aging brain. Synapse, 32: 58–66, 1999.
  6. M. Hetman, K. Kanning, J.E. Cavanaugh, Z. Xia. Neuroprotection by brain-derived neurotrophic factor is mediated by extracellular signal-related kinase and phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase. J. Biol. Chem., 274: 22569-22580, 1999. 11
  7. M. Hetman, J.E. Cavanaugh, D. Kimelman, Z. Xia. Role of glycogen synthase kinase-3β in neuronal apoptosis induced by trophic withdrawal. J. Neurosci., 20(7): 2567-2574, 2000.
  8. J.E. Cavanaugh, J. Ham, M. Hetman, S. Poser, C. Yan, Z. Xia. Differential regulation of mitogen activated protein kinases ERK1/2 and ERK5 by neurotrophins, neuronal activity and cAMP in neurons. J. Neurosci., 21(2): 434-443, 2001.
  9. L. Liu*, J.E. Cavanaugh*, Y. Wang, H. Sakagami, Z. Moa, Z. Xia. ERK activation of MEF2-mediated gene expression plays a critical role in BDNF-mediated survival of developing but not mature cortical neurons. Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci., 100(14): 8532-8537, 2003. *these authors contributed equally
  10. J.E. Cavanaugh, J.D. Jaumotte, J.M. Lakoski, M.J. Zigmond. Neuroprotective role of ERK1/2 and ERK5 in dopaminergic cells under basal conditions and in response to oxidative stress. J. Neurosci. Res., 84(6): 1367-1375, 2006.
  11. E. Lin, J.E. Cavanaugh, R.K. Leak, R.G. Perez, M.J. Zigmond. Rapid activation of ERK by 6-hydroxydopamine promotes survival of a dopaminergic cell. J. Neurosci. Res., 86: 108-117, 2008.
  12. P.T Flaherty, I. Chopra, P. Jain, S. Yi, E. Allen, J. Cavanaugh. Identification of benzimidazole-based inhibitors of the mitogen activated kinase-5 signaling pathway. Bioorg. Med. Chem. Lett., 20: 2892-2896, 2010. PMID: 20382528
  13. P.T Flaherty, I. Chopra, P. Jain, D. Monlish, J. Cavanaugh. Structure-activity relationships of benzimidazole-based selective inhibitors of the mitogen activated kinase-5 signaling pathway. Bioorg. Med. Chem. 15: 8054-8060, 2010. PMID: 20965737.
  14. E.N. Allen, K.M. Carlson, M.J. Zigmond, J.E. Cavanaugh. L-DOPA reverses motor deficits associated with normal aging in mice. Neurosci. Lett., 489: 1-4, 2011. PMID: 21111775
  15. M.S. Parmar, J.D. Jaumotte, S.L. Wyrostek, M.J. Zigmond, J.E. Cavanaugh. The role of ERK1, 2, and 5 in dopamine neurons survival during aging. Neurobiol. Aging, 35; 669-679, 2014.
  16. E.N. Allen, J. E. Cavanaugh. Loss of motor coordination in an aging mouse model. Behav. Brain Res., 267C: 119–125, 2014.
  17. K.M. Rose, M.S. Parmar, J. E. Cavanaugh. Dietary supplementation with resveratrol protects against striatal dopaminergic deficits produced by in utero LPS exposure. Brain Res., 1573: 37-43, 2014. doi: 10.1016/j.brainres.2014.05.028. PMID:24863468
  18. M.S. Parmar, J.D. Jaumotte, M.J. Zigmond, J.E. Cavanaugh. ERK1, 2, and 5 expression and activation in dopaminergic brain regions during postnatal development. Int. J. Dev. Neurosci., 46: 44-50, 2015. doi: 10.1016/j.ijdevneu.2015.06.009. PMID: 26363522
  19. D.M. Vasa, I.S. Buckner, J.E. Cavanaugh, P.L. Wildfong. Improved flux of Levodopa via direct deposition of solid microparticles on nasal tissue. AAPS Pharm Sci Tech. 2016 Jul 5. [Epub ahead of print] PMID:27380436
  20. M. Herneisey, J. Williams, J. Mirtic, L. Liu, S. Potdar, C. Bagia, J.E. Cavanaugh, J.M. Janjic. Development and characterization of resveratrol nanoemulsions carrying dual imaging agents. Ther Deliv. 7:795-808, 2016. PMID:27834615
Journal of Breast Cancer Research and Advancements