Thomas Burris, Ph.D. (Pharmacology and Physiology) and John Walker, Ph.D. (Pharmacology and Physiology) were quoted about their research to capture some of the benefits of exercise in pill form on Life Science Daily.
Nickolas SteinauerNickolas Steinauer, an MD/PHD student in Dr. Jinsong Zhang's lab, won a Travel Award to attend the 2016 ASH Meeting on Hematologic Malignancies held in Chicago this September.

Nick's abstract was chosen as one of the top 6 abstracts for oral presentation at the meeting. He is currently supported by the T32 training grant in the Department. Congratulations, Nick!
ASH Meeting September 2016
Contact Us
Department of Pharmacological and Physiology
Room M 362 || 1402 South Grand Blvd
St. Louis, Missouri 63104
Phone: 314-977-6400
Fax: 314-977-6410

Willis K. Samson, Ph.D., D.Sc.

1979 Ph.D. (Physiology) U. TX Southwestern Med Center
1979-1981 Postdoc U. TX Southwestern
1981-1988 Assistant Professor (Physiol) U TX Southwestern Med Ctr
1988–1990 Associate Professor (Anat/Neurobiol) U MO-Columbia Med Sch
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  Sch
1999–present Professor (Pharm/Phys Science), Director of Graduate Programs in the Biomedical Sciences Saint Louis University



1. Our lab was the first to identify the neuroendocrine and behavioral effects of several vasoactive peptides including oxytocin, vasoactive intestinal peptide, atrial natriuretic peptide, adrenomedullin, intermedin, nesfatin, endothelin, nesfatin and neuronostatin. We also were to first to identify the sympathostimulatory and neuroendocrine actions of leptin and orexin. These in vivo studies were expanded by us and by others into the appreciation we now have for the multifaceted actions of these pluripotent peptides.

a. Samson, W.K. et al. Hypocretin /orexin type 1 receptor in brain: role in cardiovascular control and the neuroendocrine response to immobilization stress. American Journal of Physiology 292: R382-387, 2007.

b. Yosten, G.L., W.K. Samson. Neural circuitry underlying the central hypertensive action of nesfatin-1: melanocortins, corticotropin releasing hormone, and oxytocin. American Journal of Physiology 306: R722-7, 2014.

c. Yosten, G.L. et al. A 5’-upstream open reading frame encoded peptide regulates angiotensin type 1 a receptor production and signaling via a beta-arrestin pathway. Journal of Physiology 594: 1601-5, 2016.

d. Liu, J. et al. Selective inhibition of angiotensin receptor signaling through Erk1/2 pathway by a novel peptide. American Journal of Physiology 306: R619-26, 2014.


2. We were the first group to use peptide-cytotoxin conjugates to selectively target individual neuronal populations in brain. With this technique we demonstrated the importance of the natriuretic peptides in reproductive hormone secretion, the role of oxytocin in the hypothalamic control of sodium appetite. We also were one of the first groups to apply ribozyme technologies to the study of neuropeptide function.

a. Samson, W.K. et al.  C-type natriuretic peptide mediates the hypothalamic actions of the natriuretic peptides to inhibit luteinizing hormone secretion.  Endocrinology, 132:504-509, 1993.

b. Blackburn, R.E. et al. Central oxytocin inhibition of salt appetite in rats: evidence for differential sensing of plasma sodium and osmolality. Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences, U.S.A., 90: 10380-10384, 1993.

c. Blackburn, R.E. et al. Central oxytocin and atrial natriuretic peptide mediate the osmotic inhibition of salt appetite in rats. American Journal of Physiology, 269: R245-251, 1995.

d. Taylor, M.M., W.K. Samson. Ribozyme compromise of adrenomedullin mRNA processing reveals a physiologically relevant role in thirst. American Journal of Physiology, 282: R1739-R1745, 2002.


3. Recently our group has pioneered the development of a “Deductive Reasoning Strategy” to de-orphanize several previously considered, orphan G protein-coupled receptors. Thus we have identified the cognate receptor of a peptide we discovered in 2008, neuronostatin, to be GPR107. We went on to identify the missing C-peptide (pro-insulin connecting peptide) receptor, GPR146 and a potential receptor for adropin, GPR19. Most recently we have identified the receptor for Phoenixin, a novel endogenous peptide we discovered in hypothalamus that controls reproductive function.

a. Samson, W.K. et al.. 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, 2008.

b. Yosten, G.L.C., L.J. Redlinger, A.J.W. Hsueh, W.K. Samson.  Evidence for an interaction of neuronostatin with the orphan G-protein coupled receptor, GPR-107. American Journal of Physiology,  303: R941-R949, 2012.

c. Yosten, G.L. et al. Evidence for an interaction between pro-insulin C-peptide and GPR146. Journal of Endocrinology 218: B1-B8. 2013.

d. Stein, L.M., G.L. Yosten, W.K. Samson. Adropin acts in brain to inhibit water drinking: potential interaction with the orphan G protein-coupled receptor GPR19. American Journal of Physiology 310: R476-80, 2016.


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

2012 Distinguished Teacher Award (Saint Louis University School of Medicine, M.D. Program)

Current Funding

NIH R001 HL121456-01A1, "Angiotensin Receptor Regulation by Upstream Short Open Reading Frames." July 1, 2014 - June 30, 2019

Professional Societies

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, 2005-2012)

International Society for Neuroendocrinology

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

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

Editorial Boards

American Journal of Physiology: Regulatory, Integrative, and Comparative Physiology (Associate Editor and Deputy Editor-in-Chief, 2007- 2013, Editor-in-Chief 2013-2019)
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)
Immunology, Endocrine and Metabolic Agents in Medicinal Chemistry (Guest Editor, Special Issue on Appetite, 2008)

Recent Graduates

Alison Salvatori, Ph.D., 2008
Project: Novel Pancreatic Islet Peptides

Gina L.C. Yosten, Ph.D., 2010
Project: Central Autonomic and Metabolic Actions of Neuronostatin

Alicia Pate, Ph.D., 2012
Project: Prolactin ReleasingPeptides and Stress

Molly Elrick, Ph.D., 2014
Project: Ligands for Orphan Receptors

Chloe Bryant, Ph.D., 2014
Project: Novel Neuroendocrine Peptides and Reproductive Function

Current Graduate Students

Lauren Stein
Project: Orphan G Protein-Coupled Receptor Identification


1. Samson W K, JV Zhang, Avsian-Kretchmer O, Cui K, Yosten GLC, Klein C, Lyu Rm, Wang YX, Chen XQ, Yang J, Price CJ, Hoyda TD, Ferguson AV, Yuan XB, Chang JK, Hsueh AJW  2008 Neuronostatin encoded by the somatostatin gene regulates neuronal, cardiovascular, and metabolic functions. Journal of Biological Chemistry 283(46): 31949-59 PMCID: PMC2581552

2. Hua Y, H Ma, WK Samson, J Ren 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. PMCID: PMC2739787

3. Yosten GLC, Samson WK  2010 The melanocortins, not oxytocin, mediate the anorexigenic and antidipsogenic effects of neuronostatin.  Peptides 31:1711-1714. PMCID: PMC2935629

4. Yosten GLC, Pate AT, Samson WK 2011 Neuronostatin acts in brain to biphasically increase mean arterial pressure via sympatho-activation followed by vasopressin secretion: the role of melanocortin receptors. American Journal of Physiology 300: R1194-R1199. PMCID: PMC3094032

5. Yosten GLC, Redlinger L, Samson WK 2012 Evidence for a role of endogenous nesfatin-1 in the control of water drinking. Journal of Neuroendocrinology 24: 1078-1084. PMID: 22375892

6. Yosten GLC, Samson WK 2012 Pressor doses of vasopressin result in only transient elevations in plasma peptide levels. Peptides 33:342-345. PMID: 22227112

7. Yosten GLC, Redlinger LJ, Samson WK 2012 Evidence for an interaction of neuronostatin with an orphan G protein-coupled receptor, GPR107. American Journal of Physiology 303: R941-R949. PMCID: PMC 3517703

8. Yosten GLC, Lyu RM, Hsueh AJW, Avsian-Kretchmer O, Chang JK, Bryant CW, Dun SL, Dun N, Samson WK  2013 A novel reproductive hormone, phoenixin. Journal of Neuroendocrinology, 25: 206-215, 2013. PMID: 22963497

9. Pate AT, Yosten GLC, Samson WK 2013  Neuropeptide W increases mean arterial pressure as a result of behavioral arousal. American Journal of Physiology 305: R804-R810. PMID: 23926134

10. Pate AT, Yosten GLC, Samson WK 2013 Compromise of endogenous neuropeptide W production abrogates the dipsogenic and pressor effects of angiotensin II in adult, male rats. Journal of Neuroendocrinology 25: 1290-1297. PMID: 24628220

11. Yosten GLC, Kolar GR, Redlinger LJ, Samson WK 2013 Evidence for an interaction between pro-insulin C-peptide and GPR146. Journal of Endocrinology 218: B1-B8. PMID: 23980258.

12. Salvatori AS, Elrick MM, Samson WK, Corbett JA, Yosten GLC 2014 Neuronostatin inhibits glucose-stimulated insulin secretion via direct action on the pancreatic alpha cell. American Journal of Physiology 306: E1257-E1263. PMID: 24735891

13. Liu J, Yosten GLC, Ji H, Zhang D, Zheng W, Speth RC, Samson WK, Sandberg K 2014 Selective inhibition of angiotensin receptor signaling through Erk1/2 pathway by a novel peptide. American Journal of Physiology 306: R619-R626. PMID: 24523339

14.Yosten GLC, Samson WK 2014 Neural circuitry underlying the central hypertensive action of nesfatin-1: melanocortins, corticotropin releasing hormone, and oxytocin. American Journal of Physiology 306: R722-R727. PMID: 24598461
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