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Kenneth A. Gruber, Ph.D.

Adjunct Professor, Department of Medical Pharmacology and Physiology
Office Location: 122 Life Sciences Business Incubator
Office Phone: 573-884-2824

Research Interests

Expertise in development, negotiation, and management of Federal basic and clinical research programs involving grants, contracts, cooperative agreements, and interagency agreements. Funding Agency and University experience ranging from proposal development (both scientific and budgetary), through review and pre and post award administration.  Demonstrated skill to effectively work with Federal Agencies, private organizations, and university administration, faculty, staff, and students.  Managerial experience with doctoral, baccalaureate, and support level staff.  Principal Investigator on Federal (NIH and NSF), pharmaceutical industry, and private foundation grants.

Research Description

I’m both an MU faculty member and a biotech pharmaceutical company CEO.  My research bridges the gap between pure basic science and therapeutic drug development.  As such, we do not specialize in a specific technique or anatomical structure, but are rather problem oriented in our research objectives.  We are funded by NIH SBIR grants, the State of Missouri, and private investment.  Our labs are located in the MU Life Sciences Business Incubator and the Dalton.

Our general areas of research include central nervous system control of metabolism, the molecular basis for drug cardiovascular side-effects, and the design of peptides with drug-like pharmacological properties.  We are currently applying our research interests to the development of a drug to control cachexia, a hyper-metabolic state associated with many chronic diseases, including malignancies.  Our future plans are to expand our research efforts to studies of peptide therapeutic agent development for obesity, cardiac arrhythmias, and cancer.

Professional Background

Military, Lieutenant Colonel, United States Army (retired in June 2009 after 24 years of Active and Reserve service).  Last assignment was Biochemist (Acting Director of Laboratory Directorate during mobilization) at the United States Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventative Medicine (CHPPM), Aberdeen Proving Grounds, MD.  Previously held positions as the Chief of the Clinical Chemistry Laboratory Section, 349th General Hospital (Field), USAR, Stanton, CA; Chief, Clinical Chemistry Section, 2290th General Hospital, USAR, Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Washington, D.C.; Sanitary Engineering Officer and Chief of the Preventive Medicine Section, 309th Medical Group, USAR, Rockville, MD; Research Physiologist, U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine (USARIEM), Natick, MA; as well as positions in the Field Artillery, the Chemical Corps, and Civil Affairs.  Military education includes the Army Medical Department Officer's Basic and Advanced Courses, the Command and General Staff College’s Combined Arms and Services Staff School, the Command and General Staff Officer’s Course, and the Army Physical Fitness School ’s Master Fitness Trainer Course.  Member of the 1999-2000 United States Armed Forces Military Pentathlon Team (CIOR).

Founder and CEO/President, Tensive Controls, Inc., a biotech pharmaceutical company supported by grants from the NIH/NCI SBIR program, North Carolina State SBIR matching funds, and the IRS/HHS Qualifying Therapeutic Discovery Project program.  Professor Emeritus of Biological Sciences, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, CA; Adjunct Professor, Dalton Cardiovascular Research Center University of Missouri, Columbia, MO

Tensive Controls, Inc is a biotech pharmaceutical company with an emphasis on freeing drug classes from cardiovascular side-effects.  Awarded National Cancer Institute Phase 1 SBIR grant, North Carolina Board of Science and Technology SBIR Matching Grant, and an IRS/HHS Qualifying Therapeutic Discovery Project grant in support of research on developing anti-cachectic melanocortin agents.

California Polytechnic State University, Pomona, CA   Professor of Biological Sciences (2006-2008) and Professor Emeritus of Biological Sciences w/half-time teaching appointment (2008-present).Director of Human Anatomy and Human Physiology courses.  Research on relationship of common cardiovascular mechanisms of melanocortin and NPY systems.

California Polytechnic State University, Pomona, CA  Director of Research and Sponsored Programs (September 2001-July 2003)And Professor of Biology (with tenure)Senior University Official responsible for research development and sponsored programs administration.  Providds leadership in coordinating grant and contract activities related to external funding.  Developed policies pertaining to university research grant/contract administration, including intellectual property ownership and revenue sharing.  Led faculty/staff efforts in identifying funding opportunities.  Assisted in the development, editing, and reviewing of research project proposals.  Acted as preaward administrator for all grant and contract applications.  Negotiated on behalf of the University with funding agencies.  Had personnel and fiscal responsibility for the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs.  Served as a campus resource in strategic planning, securing external funding for initiatives, promoting excellence in research, enhancing the involvement of students in research, promoting diversity, and building long-term relationships among faculty, staff, administrators, students, alumni, industry, the Cal Poly Pomona Foundation, and the community.  Served as the Human Subjects Protection Administrator and Ex Officio member of the Institutional Review Board, and Chair of the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee, with administrative responsibilities for both committees.

National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, Bethesda, MD   Chief, Chronic Diseases Branch (January 1999-September 2002).  Managed a Branch containing research grants, cooperative agreements, and contracts with a total budget of >50 million dollars. These programs are focused on craniofacial bone diseases, temporomandibular disorders, neuropathic pain, autoimmune diseases, and salivary gland function.  Exercises scientific programmatic and grants management, and budgetary responsibilities. Supervises a staff consisting of doctoral and baccalaureate level individuals.  Responsible for negotiations with extramural institutions, Principal Investigators, as well as other Federal Agencies.   Had direct or supervisory responsibility for the development of research initiatives, organizing conferences and workshops to enhance the mission areas of the Institute, reporting on research progress within the Branch to offices and committees in the NIH, as well as other Federal Agencies and Congress, and preparing budgetary reports and projections.  Represented the Institute on trans-NIH and trans-governmental committees, and at meetings of national organizations involved in the promotion of biomedical research and education.

Selected Publications

Gruber, K.A.; O'Brien, L.V.; Gerstner, R.  Vitamin A:  not required for adrenal steroidogenesis in rats.  Science 1976; 191:  472-475.

Gruber, K.A.; Stein, S.; Radhakrishnan, A.N.; Brink, L.; Udenfriend, S.  Fluorometric assay of vasopressin and oxytocin:  a general approach to the assay of peptides in tissues.  Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 1976; 73  1314-1318.

O'Brien, L.B.; Gruber, K.A.  A simplified enzymatic procedure for preparation of cell dispersions of mammalian soft tissue.  Tissue Culture Society Techniques Manual 1976; 2:  227-280.

Radhakrishnan, A.N., Stein, S.; Licht, A.; Gruber, K.A.; Udenfriend, S.  High-efficiency cation-exchange chromatography of polypeptides and polyamines in the nanomole range.  J. Chromatogr. 1977; 132:  551-555.

Gruber, K.A.; Buckalew, V.M. Jr.  Further characterization and evidence for a precursor in the formation of plasma antinatriferic factor.  Proc. Soc. Exp. Biol. Med 1978; 159:  463-467.

Gruber, K.A.; Whitaker, J.M.; Morris, M.  Molecular weight separation of proteins and peptides with a new high-pressure liquid chromatography column.  Anal. Biochem. 1979; 97:  176-183.

Gruber, K.A.; Morris, M.  Direct detection of the vasopressin precursor.  Endocr. Res. Commun. 1980; 7(1):  45-59.

Gruber, K..A; Whitaker, J.M.; Buckalew, V.M. Jr.  Endogeneous digitalis-like substance in plasma of volume-expanded dogs.  Nature 1980; 287:  743-745.

Gruber, K.A.; Sundberg, D.K.; Morris, M.  Studies on the biosynthesis of vasopressin.  Adv. Physiol. Sci. 1981; 13:  111-115.

Bryant, D.L.; Whitaker, J.M.; Gruber, K.A.; Dodge, W.H.  Characterization of an inhibitor of granulocyte/monocyte colony formation in leukemic chicken plasma.  Exp. Hematol. 1981; 9:  479-488.

Gruber, K.A.; Rudel, L.L.; Bullock, B.C.  Increased circulating levels of an endogenous digoxin-like factor in hypertensive monkeys.  Hypertension 1982; 4:  348-354.

Plunkett, W.C.; Hutchins, P.M.; Gruber, K.A.; Buckalew, V.M. Jr.  Evidence for a vascular sensitizing factor in plasma of saline-loaded dogs.  Hypertension 1982; 4:  581-589.

Gruber, K.A.  Endogenous drug like substances:  implications and approaches to their study.  Perspect. Biol. Med. 1982; 26:  51-61.

Bealer, S.L.; Haywood, J.R.; Gruber, K.A.; Buckalew, V.M. Jr.; Fink, G.D.; Brody, M.J.; Johnson, A.K.  Preoptic-hypothalamic periventricular lesions reduce natriuresis to volume expansion.  Am. J. Physiol. 1983; 244:  R51-R57.

Gruber, K.A.; Whitaker, J.M.; Buckalew, V.M. Jr.  Immunochemical approaches to the isolation of an endogenous digoxin-like factor.  Curr. Top. Membr. Transp. 1983; 19:  917-921.

Sundberg, D.K.; Morris, M.; Gruber, K.A.  Methods for investigating peptide precursors in the hypothalamus.  Methods Enzymol. 1983; 103:  524-539.

Gruber, K.A.; Buckalew, V.M. Jr.  Digoxin-like immunoreactivity of a circulating (Na+ + K+) ATPase inhibitor.  Nature 1983; 305:  646.

Hennessy, J.F.; Buckalew, V.M. Jr.; Gruber, K.A.; Ober, K.P.; Bullock, B.; Hannaert, P.; Garay, R.  Ion transport characteristics in rhesus monkey erythrocytes:  relationship to age and blood pressure.  Clin. Exp. Hypertns. 1984; A6:  961-978.

Gruber, K.A.; Klein, M.C.; Hutchins, P.M.; Buckalew, V.M. Jr.; Lymangrover, J.R.  Natriuretic and hypertensive activities reside in a fragment of ACTH.  Hypertension 1984; 6:  468-474.

Buckalew; V.M. Jr.; Gruber, K.A; Hennessy, J.F.  Studies of a digitalis-like autocoid in dog plasma.  Trans. Am. Clin. Climatol. Assoc. 1983; 95:  86-92.

Callahan, M.F.; Kirby, R.F.; Lymangrover, J.R.; Johnson, A.K.; Gruber, K.A.  Cardiovascular mechanisms of gamma 2-MSH.  Clin. Exp. Hypertens, [A] 1984, A6:  1727-1730.

Lymangrover, J.R.; Buckalew, V.M.; Harris, J.; Klein, M.C.; Gruber, K.A.  Gamma-2 MSH is natriuretic in the rat.  Endocrinology 1984; 116:  1227-1229.

Klein, M.C.; Hutchins, P.M.; Lymangrover, J.R.; Gruber, K.A.  Pressor and cardioaccelerat- or effects of gamma MSH and related peptides.  Life Sci. 1985; 36:  769-775.

Callahan, M.F.; Kirby, R.F.; Wolf, D.W.; Strandhoy, J.W.; Lymangrover, J.R.; Johnson, A.K.; Gruber, K.A.  Sympathetic nervous system mediation of acute cardiovascular actions of  gamma-2-melanocyte-stimulating hormone.  Hypertension 1985; 7, Suppl.  I:  I-145-I-150.

Gruber, K.A.; Callahan, M.F.; Kirby, R.F.; Johnson, A.K.; Lymangrover, J.R.  Natriuretic and hypertensinogenic pro-opiomelanocortin derived peptides.  Regal. Peptides 1985; Suppl. 4:  118-123.

Gruber, K.A.; Metzler, C.H.; Robinson, T.E.J.; Buggy, J.; Bullock, B.C.; Lymangrover, J.R.  Investigations of an endogenous digoxin-like factor.  Fed. Proc. 1985; 44:  2795-2799.

Gruber, K.A.  La Canrenone et l’expansion volemique chez le chien et chez le rat.  JAMA (Edition Francaise) Supplement Special Hors Seri. 1986 Jan; 29-30.

Gruber, K.A.; Wilkin, L.D.; Johnson, A.K.  Neurohypophyseal hormone release and biosynthesis in rats with lesions of the anteroventral third ventricle (AV3V) region.  Brain Res. 1986; 378:  115-119.

Gruber, K.A.; Eskridge, S.L.  Activation of the central vasopressin system:  a common pathway for several centrally acting pressor agents.  Am. J. Physiol. 1986; 251:  R476-R480.

Gruber, K.A.; Eskridge, S.L.  Central vasopressin system mediation of the acute pressor effect of  gamma-MSH.  Am. J. Physiol. 1986; 251:  E134-E137.

Wilkin, L.D.; Gruber, K.A.; Johnson, A.K.  Changes in magnocellular-neurohypophyseal vasopressin following anteroventral third-ventricle (AV3V) lesions.  J. Cardiovasc. Farm. 1986; 98 (Suppl. 7):  S70-S75.

Gruber, K.A.; Valego, N.K.; Strandhoy, J.W.  Canrenone does not reverse the vasocontrictive actions of ouabain.  J. Hypertens. 1986; 4 Suppl. 6:  S602-S603.

Gruber, K.A.; Eskridge, S.L.; Callahan, M.F.  Activation of the central vasopressin system:  a potential factor in the etiology of hypertension.  Kiln. Wochenschr 1987; 65 Suppl. VIII:  82-86.

Gruber, K.A.; McRae-Degueurce, A.; Wilkin, L.D.; Mitchell, L.D.; Johnson, A.K.  Fore- brain and brainstorm afferents to the arcuate nucleus in the rat:  potential pathways for the modulation of hypophyseal secretions.  Neurosci. Let 1987; 75:  1-5.

Gruber, K.A.  The natriuretic response to hydromineral imbalance.  Hypertension 1987; 10 Suppl. I:  I48-I51.

Callahan, M.F.; Cunningham, J.T.; Kirby, R.F.; Johnson, A.K; Gruber, K.A.  Role of the anteroventral third ventricle (AV3V) region of the rat brain in the pressor response to gamma-2-melanocyte-stimulating hormone (MSH).  Brain Res. 1988; 444:  177-180.

Gruber, K.A.; Eskridge-Sloop, S.L.; Callahan, M.F.  Dehydration natriuresis in Dahl S rats:  no evidence for renal  excretory deficit.  J. Hypertens. 1988; 6:  333-336.

Callahan, M.F.; Kirby, R.F.; Johnson, A.K.; Gruber, K.A.  Sympathetic terminal mediation of the acute cardiovascular response of gamma-2-MSH.  J. Auto. Nerv. Syst. 1988; 24:  179-182.

Callahan, M.C.; Kirby, R.F.; Cunningham, J.T.; Eskridge-Sloop, S.L.; Johnson, A.K.; Gruber, K.A.  Central oxytocin systems may mediate a cardiovascular response to stress.  Am. J. Physiol. 1989; 256:  H1369-1377.

Mitchell; L.D.; Callahan, M.F.; Wilkin, L.D.; Gruber, K.A.; Johnson, A.K.  Activation of supraoptic magnocellular neurons by gamma II melanocyte stimulating hormone (gamma 2 MSH). Brain Research 1989; 480:  388-392.

Gruber, K.A.; Eskridge-Sloop, SK; Eldridge, J.C.; Callahan, M.F.  ACTH-induced hypertension in rats:  fact or artifact?  Am. J. Physiol. 1989; R1308-R1312.

Gruber, K.A.; Callahan, M.F.  ACTH (4-10) through gamma MSH:  evidence for a new class of central autonomic nervous system regulating peptides.  (Invited Review) Am. J. Physiol. 1989; R681-R694.

Gruber, K.A.; Callahan, M.F.; Eskridge-Sloop, S.L.  Central administration of angiotensin II receptor antagonists and arterial pressure regulation: a note of caution.  Life Sciences 50:1497-1502, 1992.

Callahan, M.F., Throe, C.R., Sundberg, D.K., Gruber, K.A., O’Steen, K., Morris, M.  Excitotoxin paraventricular nucleus lesions: stress and endocrine reactivity and oxytocin RNA levels.  Brain Research 597:8-15, 1992.

Rodriguez , C., Gruber, K.A., Morris, M., Opava-Stitzer, S  Normalized pressor responses to angiotensin II following long-term vasopressin supplementation in Brattleboro rats: a possible central site of action.  Ann N Y Acad Sci 689:537-539, 1993

Gruber, K.A.  The endogenous digitalis-like substance concept (a Citation Classic Commentary)  Current Contents 36(2), Jan 11, p9, 1993.

Gruber KA, Fan W, Akerberg H, et al. Neuropeptide Y and gamma-melanocyte stimulating hormone (gamma-MSH) share a common pressor mechanism of action. Endocrine 2009; 35:312-24.

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