University of Vermont

College of Medicine

Department of Pharmacology

Bio for Swapnil Sonkusare, Ph.D.
Swapnil Sonkusare, Ph.D.

Swapnil Sonkusare, Ph.D.

Contact Information
+1 (802) 656-8037
Office Location:
89 Beaumont Ave, Given B303, Burlington, VT 05405


  Ph.D. in Pharmacology, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock, AR
Dissertation Title:  Upregulation of Vascular L-type Ca2+ channels in hypertension:  role of accessory b subunits,  Advisor:  Nancy J. Rusch, Ph.D.
2003  M.S. in Pharmacology, National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research, Mohali, India
Dissertation Title:  Effect of donepezil and lercanidipine on memory impairment induced by intracerebroventricular injection of streptozotocin,  Advisor:  Poduri Ramarao, Ph.D.
2002  B.S. in Pharmaceutical Sciences, Nagpur University Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Nagpur, India.

Research Interests

Optical patch clamp in intact arteries:  The overall goal of my research is to understand differential roles of endothelial TRPV (transient receptor potential vanilloid) channels in the regulation of vascular function.  Using high-speed confocal calcium imaging, I study calcium influx events -calcium sparklets- through single TRPV channels on endothelial cell (EC) membranes under physiological conditions of temperature and ionic concentrations.  We also preform patch clamp experiments in isolated ECs to supplement the calcium imaging data, and to study the calcium-activated potassium currents (IK and SK) in endothelial cells.

Functional studies:  Small mesenteric arteries constrict in response to increases in intravascular pressure (myogenic constriction).  I combine diameter studies in myogenically active mesenteric arteries with pharmacological tools and knockout mouse models to study the regulation of vascular function by endothelial TRPV channels.

Endothelial dysfunction in hypertension:  Endothelial vasodilation is impaired in hypertension, but the underlying pathological mechanisms are not clear.  Majority of endothelial vasodilation in small mesenteric arteries occurs via endothelium-derived hyperpolarization (EDH).  We have shown that TRPV4 and IK channels are critical players in the EDH pathway.  My studies in angiotensin II-induced hypertensive mice evaluate the function of signaling players in the EDH pathway, with a special emphasis on TRPV4 and IK channels.

Positions Held

July 1, 2015 - present       Research Assistant Professor, Department of Pharmacology, University of Vermont, Burlington, VT

2012 - 2015
  Research Associate, Department of Pharmacology, University of Vermont, Burlington, VT
2009 - 2012  Postdoctoral Fellow with Mark T. Nelson, Ph.D., University of Vermont, Burlington, VT

Awards and Honors


  • NHLBI K99/R00  Pathway to Independence Award


  • American Heart Association Scientist Development Grant (July 2013 - June 2017)
  • Co-Chair, Trainee Showcase, Cardiovascular Pharmacology (CVP) Division, American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics (ASPET), Experimental Biology 2013, Boston, MA
  • Proposed the symposium titled "Local endothelial calcium signaling in health and disease" Experimental Biology 2013, sponsored by ASPET, Boston, MA


  • ASPET Young Scientist Award, 1st place, CVP Trainee Showcase, Experimental Biology 2012, San Diego, CA


  • Postdoctoral Scientist Presentation Award, 1st place, Annual Research Retreat, Department of Pharmacology, University of Vermont
  • ASPET Young Scientist Travel Award, Experimental Biology 2011, Washington, D.C.


  • American Heart Association - Pulmonary Hypertension Association, postdoctoral fellowship (July 2010 - June 2012)


  • Winner of Seager-Braswell Student Symposium, Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, UAMS
  • Proposed and co-chaired the symposium titled:  "Regulation of cardiovascular ion channels in health and disease", at Experimental Biology 2008, San Diego, CA

Research Grants

08/01/2013 - 07/31/2019  NHLBI K99/R00  Pathway to Independence Award  
                        "TRPV and potassium channels in vascular endothelium"

07/01/2013 - 06/30/2017  American Heart Association Scientist Development Grant
                      "Elementary endothelial calcium signals-TRPV sparklets-regulate vascular function"

07/01/2010 - 06/30/2012  American Heart Association - Pulmonary Hypertension Association (Postdoctoral Fellowship)
                      "TRPV4 and pressure modulation of calcium signaling in vascular endothelium"


2014  "Local calcium signaling in the endothelium in health and disease", Dept. of Physiology, University of Maryland, Baltimore, MD
2014  "Vasodilatory TRPV4 calcium signaling networks at myoendothelial projections are impaired in hypertension",  Cardiovascular Research Center, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA
2014  "Disruption of TRPV4 Ca2+ signaling at myoendothelial projections impairs endothelial vasodilation in hypertension",  Vascular Medicine Institute, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Pittsburgh, PA
2013  "Disruption of TRPV4 calcium signaling network at myoendothelial projections results in a loss of endothelial-dependent vasodilation in hypertension",  in "Signaling Microdomains in the Vasculature"  Vascular Biology 2013, Hyannis, MA
2006  "Design of Mutant b2 Subunits as Decoy Molecules to Reduce the Expression of Functional Ca2+ Channels in Cardiac Cells",  ASPET CVP Trainee Showcase, Experimental Biology 2006, San Francisco, CA
2012  "Elementary Ca2+ signals-TRPV4 sparklets - regulate vascular function", ASPET CVP Trainee Showcase, Experimental Biology 2012, San Diego, CA
2008  "Role of accessory subunits in upregulation of vascular L-type Ca2+ channels in hypertension", in the symposium "Regulation of cardiovascular ion channels in health and disease", Experimental Biology 2008, San Diego, CA
2008  "Role of accessory subunits in upregulation of vascular L-type Ca2+ channels in hypertension", Annual Meeting of Indian Pharmacology Society, New Delhi, India


Google Scholar Profile:
For a complete list of publications, please visit Pub Med.

2014 Villalba N, Sonkusare SK, Tran TL, Nelson MT, Wellman GC, Freeman K.  (2014)  Traumatic brain injury disrupts cerebrovascular tone by endothelial iNOS expression and nitric oxide gain-of-function.  Journal of American Heart Association.  doi:  19,1161.HAGA,114,991464.  PMID:  25527626, PMCID:  PMC4338739

2014  Hill-Eubanks DC, Gonzales AL, Sonkusare SK, Nelson MT.  Vascular TRP channels:  performing under pressure and going with the flow.  Physiology (Bethesda).  doi:  10.1152/physiol.00009.2014.Review.  PMID:  25180264, PMCID:  PMC214829

2014 Sonkusare SK, Dalsgaard T, Bonev AD, Hill-Eubanks DC, Kotlikoff MI, Scott JD, Santana LF, Nelson MT.  (2014)  AKAP150-dependent cooperative TRPV4 channel gating is central to endothelium-dependent vasodilation and is disrupted in hypertension.  Science Signaling.  doi:  10.1125/scisignal.2005052.  Journal Cover.  PMID:  25005230, PMCID:  4214829, with Perspective:  Pooneh B, Garland CJ, Scaffolding Builds to Reduce Blood Pressure, Science Signaling.  2014 July 8; doi:  10.1126/scisignal.2005527
2014  Krishnamoorthy G, Sonkusare SK (shared first authorship), Heppner TJ, Nelson MT.  Opposing roles of smooth muscle BK channels and ryanodine receptors in the regulation of nerve-evoked constriction of mesenteric resistance arteries, American Journal of Physiology Heart and Circulator Physiology.  doi:  10.1152/ajpheart.00866.2013.  PMID:  24508642, PMCID:  PMC3962638

2013  Kharade SV, Sonkusare SK (shared first authorship), Srivastava A, Thakali KM, Fletcher TW, Rhee SW, Rusch NJ.  (2013)  The b3 Subunit Contributes to Vascular Calcium Channel Upregulation and Hypertension in Angiotensin II-infused C57BL/6 Mice.  Hypertension.  doi:10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.112.197863.  PMID:  23129698, PMCID:  PMC3748590

2012  Sonkusare SK, Bonev AD, Ledoux J., Liedtke W, Kotlikoff MI, Heppner TJ, Hill-Eubanks DC, Nelson MT.  (2012)  Elementary Ca2+ signals through endothelial TRPV4 channels regulate vascular function.  Science.  doi:  10.1126/science.1216283.  PMID:  22556255, PMCID:  PMC3715993

2011  Nystoriak MA, O'Connor KP, Sonkusare SK, Brayden JE, Nelson MT, Wellman GC.  Fundamental increase in pressure-dependent constriction of brain parenchymal arterioles from subarachnoid hemorrhage model rats due to membrane depolarization.  Am Journal Physiol Heart Circ Physiol.  doi:  10.1152/ajpheart.00760.2010.  PMID:  21148767, PMCID:  PMC3064296

2010  Thakali KM, Kharade SV, Sonkusare SK, Stimers JR, Rusch NJ.  Intracellular Calcium Silences L-type Ca2+ Channels:  Mechanism of Venous Smooth Muscle Insensitivity to Calcium Channel Blockers.  Circ Res.  doi:  10.1161/CIRCRESAHA.109.206763.  PMID:  20044515, PMCID:  PMC2855128

2008  Telemaque S, Sonkusare S, (shared first-authorship), Grain T, Stimers JR, Rhee SW, Rusch NJ, Marsh JD.  (2008)  Design of Mutant  b2 Subunites as Decoy Molecules to Reduce the Expression of Functional Ca2+ Channels in Cardiac Cells.  J Pharmacol Exp Ther.  doi:  10.1124/jpet.107.128215.  PMID:  18184831

2006  Sonkusare SK, Fraer M, Marsh JD, Rusch NJ.  Disrupting calcium channel expression to lower blood pressure:  new targeting of a well-known channel.  Molecular Interventions.  "Invited Viewpoint".   PMID:  17200457

2006  Sonkusare SK, Palade PT, Marsch JD, Telemaque S, Pesic A, Rusch NJ.  Vascular calcium channels and high blood pressure:  Pathophysiology and therapeutic implications, Vascul Pharmacol.  Invited Review.  PMID:  16427812

2006  Pathan AR, Viswanad B, Sonkusare SK, Ramarao P.  Chronic administration of pioglitazone attenuates intracelebroventricular streptozotocin induced-memory impairment in rates.  Life Sci.  PMID:  16904700

2005  Sonkusare SK, Kaul CL, Ramarao P.  Dementia of Alzheimer's disease and other neurodegenerative disorders - memantine, a new hope.  Pharmacol Res.  PMID:  16619530
2005  Sonkusare SK, Srinivasan K, Kaul C, Ramarao P.   Effect of donepezil and lercanidipine on intracerebroventricular streptozotocin induced memory impairment in rats.  Life Sci.  PMID:  15848214