Daniel Gustafson, PhD
PI, Pharmacology Lab
My love of animals is something I was born into. I grew up in Morgan Hill, California and we always had critters around. We had dogs, cats, and chickens. I also had a pet goat named Max that followed me around.
After high school, I knew I wanted to combine my love of science with my love for animals. I got a bachelor’s degree in biology from Santa Clara University. I did my PhD work in cell and molecular pharmacology and physiology at the University of Nevada, Reno. Following that, I completed my postdoctoral studies in radiation biology and pharmacology at Colorado State University and the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center.
After my postdoc fellowship, I became a junior faculty member in the Department of Environmental Health at Colorado State. Two years later, I joined the faculty at the School of Pharmacy at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center. During my time at UCHSC, I played a primary role in starting the Pharmacology Core for the CU Cancer Center. The “Core” is still in existence but has morphed into the Drug Discovery & Development Shared Resource.
In 2007, I came back to CSU to lead the Pharmacology Lab at the Flint Animal Cancer Center. I am a basic scientist with research programs in cancer therapeutics. Our team strongly focuses on pharmacology. Additionally, I serve as the Director of Basic Research for the FACC. I also retained my role in the Shared Resource. I co-direct the program with Dr. Dan LaBarbera who is on the Anschutz Medical Campus.
My days consist of research, teaching, and service. For the lab, I help coordinate ongoing experiments and work with lab personnel on issues or the analysis of data. I also play an active role in writing research papers and grants to continue our work.
The primary focus of our laboratory is trying to get the right drug in the right patient to most effectively treat their cancer. This means that we study the mechanism of action of drugs and what characteristics of the tumor make that tumor more or less likely to respond to that drug.
As a professor in the college, I coordinate and teach Veterinary Clinical Toxicology to second-year DVM students. I also teach the cancer, bacterial, fungal, and viral chemotherapy components of Veterinary Pharmacology to 2nd year DVM students. I love teaching and I take many opportunities to speak on the topic of cancer pharmacology any chance I get.
One of the best parts of my job is collaborating with other scientists. My team has active projects with Drs. Duval, Boss, Thamm, Regan, and Dow here at Colorado State. We also work closely with Drs. Ford, Su, LaBarbera, Corr, and multiple others at CU. Being the co-Director of a Cancer Center Shared Resource leads to many collaborations and interactions with other investigators.
I’ve always said that I went away to college and never left. The best part of my job is being a student at all times. I get to learn something new every day and connect with others who have the same curiosities as me. I also love teaching and helping early scientists find interest in the field.
When I’m not in the lab, my favorite pastime is golfing. My family also loves to camp, ride dirt bikes, and scuba dive. We spend time in the mountains when we can, but we rarely just relax – there are too many exciting things to do.
I still have many pets around the house. Kelly is our chocolate lab, and Pippin is our Pembroke Welsh Corgi. We also have two cats – Isabella is an adopted black cat with pretty green eyes, and Jiggs is our evil gray tabby.
We have many projects that are progressing toward identifying which patients will benefit the most from potential treatments. We hope to ensure that we give patients the best chance of responding, and thus, the best chance at beating cancer.