2023 Foundation Professor Violeta Mutafova-Yambolieva

What started as a two-year postdoctoral fellowship after completing her medical degree and a doctorate in pharmacology and physiology became a professional home of more than 30 years for Violeta Mutafova-Yambolieva.

“A key provision [of the fellowship] was to find a laboratory in the U.S. that would have the proper expertise to support my research on mechanisms of neurotransmission in the autonomic nervous system,” said Mutafova-Yambolieva, professor of physiology and cell biology. “I contacted 10 laboratories and all 10 replied that they would be happy to host me. So, I had a choice, and I chose Dr. David Westfall’s laboratory in the Department of Pharmacology. At the time, Dr. Westfall was department chair but he also had a very active research group and they were world-renowned in the field of adrenergic-purinergic cotransmission. This matched my goals perfectly.”

Today, Mutafova-Yambolieva’s research in extracellular purinergic signaling is equally notable. Focused on pre-clinical, discovery-oriented research, her laboratory hopes to further our overall understanding of human biology.

“We aim at discovering novel mechanisms of regulation of different systems in the body, with the ultimate goal to find novel therapeutic strategies and novel therapeutic targets for diseases such as hypertension, gastrointestinal motility disorders, and diseases of the lower urinary tract like overactive- and underactive- bladder or bladder pain syndrome,” said Mutafova-Yambolieva. “All these diseases affect tremendously the quality of life of both patients and caregivers. I really love what I do, and I’d like to think that, maybe in a small way, my work could benefit society at large.”

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