Dennis B. McKay
Professor Emeritus

Professional Interests

The primary focus of McKay’s laboratory is on drug discovery. Their target for drug discovery is the nicotinic receptor. Nicotinic receptors and their many subtypes are linked to a number of neurological diseases such as schizophrenia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, Alzheimer's disease, Tourette's syndrome, Parkinson's disease, autism, and some types of epilepsy. Considering the importance of these receptors, one would think that a host of drugs are available that act on these receptors; however, this is not the case. Although much time, effort, and resources have been devoted to the discovery of new, selective drugs over the past twenty years, very few drugs have been discovered. Obviously, new approaches in the area of nicotinic receptor drug discovery are needed. Using both ligand-based and structure-based computational approaches as drug design strategies, their goal is to identify potent drugs that target specific subtypes of nicotinic receptors.


  • 2007 AAAS Fellow
  • 2007 Who’s Who in Science and Engineering
  • 2005 John M. Cassady Diversity Enhancement Award
  • 2003 John and Ruth Mount Award


  • PhD, 1980, Medical College of Georgia, Pharmacology
  • BA, 1975, University of Texas, Austin, Biology

Recent Publications