Katie Stockstill, graduate student in Dr. Salvemini's laboratory, was awarded the American Pain Society Young Investigator Travel Award  to attend the the Annual Scientific Meeting of the American Pain Society, April 30- May 3, 2014 in Tampa, FL. Katie will be presenting her poster entitled "Bortezomib-induced neuropathic pain is blocked and reversed by blocking the the S1P/S1PR1 axis" on Thursday, May 1, 2014 as a part of this Annual Scientific Meeting.
Kali Janes, post doctoral fellow in Dr. Salvemini's laboratory, was awarded the American Pain Society Young Investigator Travel Award to attend the Annual Scientific Meeting of the American Pain Society, April 30-May 3, 2014 in Tampa, FL. Kali will be presenting her poster entitled “The role of peroxynitrite in peripheral nerve sensory axon mitotoxicity during chemotherapy-induced neuropathic pain” on Friday, May 2, 2014 as a part of the Annual Scientific Meeting.
Contact Us
Pharmacological & Physiological Science
Room M 362 || 1402 South Grand Blvd
St. Louis, Missouri 63104
Phone: 314-977-6400
Fax: 314-977-6410

Willis K. Samson, Ph.D.

1981 - 1988     Assistant Professor (Physiol) U TX Southwestern Med Center

1988 – 1990    Associate Professor (Anat/Neurobiol) U MO-Columbia Med School

1990 – 1992    Professor (Anat/Neurobiol) U MO-Columbia Med School

1992  - 1999    Professor and Chairman (Physiol) U ND Med School

1997 – 1998    Professor and Chairman (Pharmacol/Toxicol) UND Med  School

1999 – present Professor (Pharm/Phys Science), Director of Graduate Programs in the Biomedical Sciences St. Louis University



We study the roles played by vasoactive peptides in the co-ordinated regulation of cardiovascular homeostasis. Cardiovascular homeostasis (health) is maintained by hormonal and neuronal mechanisms all integrated to assure adequate cardiac function. This requires communication among numerous tissues (e.g. blood vessels, kidneys, adrenal glands, brain and the heart itself) and it has become clear that these organ systems are not only interconnected via nerves, but also that a blood borne system of messengers (i.e. hormones) acts to also co-ordinate their function. These hormones are actually small proteins that are produced in many tissues, most notably the blood vessels themselves, the heart and even the brain where they function as neurotransmitters.

Our particular focus is how these vasoactive peptides act in brain (as neurotransmitters) and in the anterior pituitary gland (controlling the release of classical hormones) so that cardiovascular and renal function is maintained. In particular we are interested in how our bodies regulate fluid and electrolyte intake and excretion. Volume status and plasma osmolality are factors that can seriously compromise cardiac function. We study how these small peptides act in brain to control salt and water intake and how they modify autonomic nervous system function (which then controls blood pressure). Currently we are studying the actions of three classes of peptides in brain and pituitary gland: the adrenomedullins, the hypocretins/orexins, and the recently described prolactin releasing peptides. What these peptides have in common is the ability to alter cardiac performance by actions in brain. We study those actions of these peptides in vivo and in tissue culture system in vitro, employing both classical pharmacologic approaches and more modern molecular technologies. Our long term goals are to understand the relevance of the actions of these peptides in brain and to establish the potential for their use in clinical settings.


1967  Rufus Choate Leadership Award, Duke University


1977  Sigma Xi Student Research Award, University of Texas Health Science Center at Dallas

1978  Sigma Xi Student Research Award, University of Texas Health Science Center at Dallas


1995  Portrait Award (Outstanding Faculty Award, selected by Medical Students), University of North Dakota School of Medicine

1999 Elected Fellow of the American Heart Association (High Blood Pressure Council)

2010 Doctor of Science (Hon.), Westminster College, Fulton, MO

National Institutes of Health  1 RO1 HL66023-01A2
“Physiology of the Prolactin Releasing Peptides” (competitive renewal)
April 1, 2007 – March 31, 2012

10GRNT4470043       American Heart Association   P.I. W.K. Samson
“Nesfatin and the Stress Response” 07/01/2010 – 06/30/2012

Endocrine Society (Chairman, Public Communications Committee, 1994-1996;

Member, Development Committee 2002-2005)

American Physiological Society (Member, Public Affairs Committee 1999-2003, Member, Joint Program Steering Committee, Section on Endocrinology and Metabolism, 2005-2010)

International Society for Neuroendocrinology

Society for Neuroscience

Association of Chairman of Departments of Physiology (1992-1999)

International Neuropeptide Society (Charter Member)

American Heart Association, High Blood Pressure Research Council (Fellow)

Editorial Boards

Endocrinology (Member, Editorial Board, 1986-1989 and 1994-1997)
Trends in Endocrinology and Metabolism (Member, Editorial Board, 2000-2009; Editor, Research News in Endocrinology and Metabolism, 2000-2008)
Endocrine News (Editor in Chief, 1994-1998)
Endocrine (Member, Editorial Board, 1994-2010)
Regulatory Peptides  (Member, Editorial Board, 2001-2010)
Peptides (Member, Editorial Board, 2005-2010)
Endocrine (Guest Editor, Special Issue on Prolactin, 2003)
Regulatory Peptides (Guest Editor, Special Issue on Adrenomedullin, 2003)
American Journal of Physiology: Regulatory, Integrative, and Comparative Physiology (Associate Editor and Deputy Editor-in-Chief, 2007- present)
Immunology, Endocrine and Metabolic Agents in Medicinal Chemistry (Guest Editor, Special Issue on Appetite, 2008)

Recent Graduates

Alison Salvatori (BS Biomedical Engineering, Northwestern University)
 Project: Novel Pancreatic Islet Peptides
Gina L.C. Yosten (BS, Zoology and Biomedical Sciences, University of Oklahoma)
 Project: Central Autonomic and Metabolic Actions of Neuronostatin

Current Graduate Students

Alicia Pate "Prolactin ReleasingPeptides and Stress"
Chloe Bryant "Novel Neuroendocrine Peptides and Reproductive Function"

Molly Elrick "Ligands for Orphan Receptors"

Postdoctoral Fellow
Gina L.C. Yosten, Ph.D. "Novel Ligands for Orphan G Protein-Coupled Receptors"


YOSTEN, G.L.C., W.K. Samson. Cardiovascular Neuroendocrinology. In: Fink G, Pfaff DW, Levine JE, eds., Handbook of Neuroendocrinology. London, Waltham, San Diego: Academic Press, Elsevier, 2012, 307-328.

YOSTEN, G.L.C., W.K. Samson. Pressor doses of vasopressin result in only transient elevations in plasma peptide levels. Peptides 33:342-345, 2012.

YOSTEN, G.L.C., L. Redlinger, W.K. Samson. Evidence for a role of endogenous nesfatin-1 in the control of water drinking. Journal of Neuroendcrinology 24: 1078-1084, 2012.

Yosten GL, Redlinger LJ, Samson WK. Evidence for an interaction of neuronostatin with an orphan G protein-coupled receptor, GPR107. American Journal of Physiology Aug 2012; 10.1152/ajpregu.00336.2012. PMID: 22933024 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher] Yosten GL, Lyu R-M, Hsueh A, Avsian-Kretchmer O, Chang J-K, Tullock C, Dun SL, Dun N, Samson WK. A novel reproductive hormone, Phoenixin. Journal of Neuroendocinology accepted for publication Sept 2012. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2826.2012.02381.x. [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 22963497

Gina L. C. Yosten, Alicia T. Pate, and Willis K. SamsonNeuronostatin acts in brain to biphasically increase mean arterial pressure through sympatho-activation followed by vasopressin secretion: the role of melanocortin receptors Am J Physiol Regulatory Integrative Comp Physiol, May 2011; 300: R1194 - R1199.PMID: 21325646 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE] PMCID: PMC3094032 [Available on 2012/5/1]

Yosten GL, Samson WK 2010 The melanocortins, not oxytocin, mediate the anorexigenic and antidipsogenic effects of neuronostatin. Peptides, 31(9): 1711-4. PMID: 20600426

Yosten GLC, Samson WK 2010 The anorexigenic and hypertensive effects of nesfatin-1 are reversed by pretreatment with an oxytocin antagonist. American Journal of Physiology 298: R1642-R1647. PMID: 20335376 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]

Samson WK, Bagley SL, Ferguson AV, White MM 2010 Orexin receptor subtype activation and locomotor behavior in the rat. Acta Physiologica 198:313-324, 2010. PMID: 19889100

HOYDA TD, Samson WK,  Ferguson AV 2008 Central nervous system roles for adiponectin in neuroendocrine and autonomic function. Endocrinology, 150: 832-840. PMID 18946398 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

Yosten GLC, Samson WK 2009 Nesfatin-1 exerts cardiovascular actions in brain: possible interaction with the central melanocortin system. American Journal of Physiology 297: R330-R336. PMID: 19474390  PMC2724238

HUA Y, Ma H, Samson WK, Ren J 2009 Neuronostatin inhibits cardiac contractile function via a protein kinase A- and JNK-dependent mechanism in murine hearts. American Journal of Physiology 297: R682-R689, 2009. PMID: 19553502 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

Samson WK, Zhang JV, Avsian-Kretchmer O, Cui K, Yosten GLC, Klein C, Lyu R-M, WangYX, Chen XQ, Yang J, Price CJ, Hoyda TD, Ferguson AV, Yuan X, Chang JK,  Hsueh AJW 2008 Neuronostatin encoded by the somatostatin gene induces c-fos in brain/gut tissues and regulates neuronal and metabolic functions. Journal of Biological Chemistry, 283: 31949 – 31959. PMID: 18753129 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

Price CJ, Hoyda TD, Samson WK, Ferguson AV 2008 Nesfatin-1 influences the excitability of paraventricular nucleus neurons. Journal of Neuroendocrinology 20:245-250. PMID 18088358 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]

Price CJ, Samson WK, Ferguson AV 2008 Nesfatin-1 inhibits NPY neurons in the arcuate nucleus. Brain Research 1230: 99-106. PMID 18625211 PMC2590930

AV Ferguson, KJ Latchford, and WK Samson. The paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus - a potential target for integrative treatment of autonomic dysfunction. Expert Opinion Therapeutic Targets, Jun 2008; 12(6): 717-27. PMID 18479218

Willis K Samson, Gina L C Yosten, Jaw-Kang Chang, Alastair V Ferguson, and Meghan M White. Obestatin inhibits vasopressin secretion: evidence for a physiological action in the control of fluid homeostasis. J. Endocrinol., Mar 2008; 196: 559 - 564, 2008. PMID 18310451

CJ Price, TD Hoyda, WK Samson, and AV Ferguson. Nesfatin-1 influences the excitability of paraventricular nucleus neurones. J Neuroendocrinol, Feb 2008; 20(2): 245-50. PMID 18088358

Willis K. Samson, Sara L. Bagley, Alastair V. Ferguson, and Meghan M. WhiteHypocretin/orexin type 1 receptor in brain: role in cardiovascular control and the neuroendocrine response to immobilization stress. Am J Physiol Regulatory Integrative Comp Physiol, Jan 2007; 292: R382 - R387. 

Willis K. Samson, Meghan M. White, Christopher Price, and Alastair V. Ferguson. Obestatin acts in brain to inhibit thirst. Am J Physiol Regulatory Integrative Comp Physiol, Jan 2007; 292: R637 - R643.

Meghan M. Taylor, Sara L. Bagley, and Willis K. Samson. Intermedin/Adrenomedullin-2 Inhibits Growth Hormone Release from Cultured, Primary Anterior Pituitary Cells. Endocrinology, Feb 2006; 147: 859 - 864.

PM Smith, WK Samson, and AV FergusonCardiovascular actions of orexin-A in the rat subfornical organ. J Neuroendocrinol, Jan 2007; 19(1): 7-13.

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