Michael Ihnat, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences

Phone (405) 271-6593 x47965

Office CPB 319

Email michael-ihnat@ouhsc.edu


The focus of Ihnat laboratory research is on micrometastatic tumor ‘dormancy,’ the period from when micrometastatic cancer cells sit down in the secondary organ/site to the time in which they reactivate. Projects in this area include determining the role of aspects of the immune system in dormancy/reactivation, identifying drugs to target dormant cells and modeling aspects of dormancy/reactivation in culture and in animals. We collaborate with many folks including Drs. Randle Gallucci and Lucila Garcia-Contreras in the OU College of Pharmacy; Dr. Jeff Eckert in the Department of Pediatrics/Neonatology; Dr. Aleem Gangjee at Duquesne University; Dr. Pui-Kai Li at The Ohio State; and Drs. David Warshawsky, Robert Hurst and others at Vuja De Sciences, a company devoted to studying tumor dormancy. 


The interest in our laboratory is pre-clinical drug development. We have two major current areas of focus - cancer and inflammatory diseases. We have partnered with medicinal chemists and biomedical researchers to target molecules involved in
inflammation, carcinogenesis, metastasis, angiogenesis, and bone formation. Some
specific projects ongoing in our laboratory are:

  1. With Dr. Aleem Gangjee at Duquesne University to create dual TKI/cytotoxic anticancer molecules to target triple negative and basal-like breast cancer and together with Dr. Rheal Towner at the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation to treat aggressive glioma multforme.
  2. With Drs. Pui-Kai Li and Chenglong Li at The Ohio State University and Dr. Thomas Sferra in the Department of Pediatrics to target the anti-apoptotic/anti-mitotic molecule survivin to treat cancer.
    • With Drs. Pui-Kai Li and chenglong Li at The Ohio State University, Dr. Thomas Sferra in the Department of Pediatrics and Dr. Randle Galucci in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences to create novel molecules targeting the IL-6 signaling pathway at both the level of its receptor and at downstream signaling points (STAT3) for the treatment of inflammation bowel disease, colon carcinogenesis, cancer therapy, wound healing and refractory dermatitis.
    • With Dr. Robert Hurst in the Department of Urology to dicover molecules capable of trageting suppressed cancer cells before they reactivate.
    • With Dr. Sukyung Woo in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences to determine whether the above molecules have synergistic anticancer effects when added together with conventional agents.
    • With Dr. Tarisai Dandajena in the Department of Cell Biology/Colleges of Dentistry at the OUHSC to find molecules capable of speeding up tooth movement via increased antiogenesis and osteoclastogenesis.

Education & Experience

Postdoctoral Fellow in Pharmacology

Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center, Seattle, WA


Ph.D. in Pharmacology and Toxicology

Darmouth Medical School, Hanover, NH


B.S. in Pharmacy (cum laude with honors and distinction)

The Ohio State University, Ohio


Honors & Awards

Professional Awards

Best Publication Award

Society of Toxicology

Joanne I. Moore Professorship in Pharmacology

OU College of Medicine

Publications & Presentations

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  1. Ojeda A S, Ford S D, Gallucci R, Ihnat M, Philp R P. Geochemical characterization and renal cell toxicity of water-soluble extracts from U.S. Gulf Coast lignite. Environ Geochem Health/Springer. 2018
  2. Devambatla RKV , Choudhary S, Ihnat M, Hamel E, Mooberry S L, Gangjee A. Design, synthesis and preclinical evaluation of 5-methyl-N4-aryl-furo[2,3-d]pyrimidines as single agents with combination chemotherapy potential. Bioorganic & medicinal chemistry letters. 2018; 28 : 3085-3093
  3. Xia D, Lai D V, Wu W, Webb Z D, Yang Q, Zhao L, Yu Z, Thorpe J E, Disch B C, Ihnat M, Jayaraman M, Dhanasekaran D N, Stratton K L, Cookson M S, Fung K M, Lin H K. Transition from androgenic to neurosteroidal action of 5α-androstane-3α, 17β-diol through the type A γ-aminobutyric acid receptor in prostate cancer progression. The Journal of steroid biochemistry and molecular biology. 2018; 178 : 89-98
  4. Zaware N, Kisliuk R, Bastian A, Ihnat M, Gangjee A. Synthesis and evaluation of 5-(arylthio)-9H-pyrimido [4,5-b] indole-2, 4-diamines as receptor tyrosine kinase and thymidylate synthase inhibitors and as antitumor agents. Bioorg Med Chem Lett. 2017; 27 : 1602-1607
  5. Luckett-Chastain L R, Smith M L, Mickle B M, Ihnat M, Gallucci R. Interleukin (IL)-6 modulates transforming growth factor -β receptor II (TGF-βRII) function in epidermal keratinocytes. Experimental Dermatology. 2017; 26 : 697-704
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  • The role of inflammatory mediators and microbiome in aging skin wounds. 2018.
  • Microtubule Targeting Agents for Pancreatic Cancer. 2018.
  • Anti-Enteroviral Prophylaxis and Drug Treatment Through Targeting the Oxysterol-binding Protein (OSBP). 2018.
  • Development of Small Molecules Targeting Cancer Metabolism. 2019.
  • Context-dependence of dormancy and drug resistance. 2019.
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