Morley Hollenberg


Department of Medicine

MSc, D. Phil, MD, DSc

Contact information


Office: 403.220.6931

Web presence


Research and teaching

Area of Focus

  • Molecular Pharmacology and Inflammatory Disease
  • Endocrinology and inflammatory disease
  • Inflammation
  • Microbiome
  • Molecular Mechanisms

Research Summary

My research interests over time have focused on the biosynthesis and actions of peptide hormones (oxytocin, vasopressin, angiotensin, insulin, epidermal growth factor) and on the molecular pharmacology and pathophysiology of receptor-mediated signaling by growth factors, G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs) and steroid hormone receptors. This focus seeks to understand rapid events occurring in tissues like smooth muscle and endothelial cells responsible for the regulation of blood vessel and intestinal motility and neurons that regulate the peripheral and central nervous system. Recent work is studying the hormone-like signaling properties of proteolytic enzymes. These enzymes trigger inflammatory processes by both receptor (G-protein-coupled Protease-activated receptors/PARs) and non-receptor mechanisms (See PubMed ID 27677721). Of particular relevance is our aim to foster a research focus on inflammatory processes triggered by microenvironment proteolytic enzymes. Additionally, we have discovered a new mechanism whereby the diabetes drug, metformin, independent of its action on blood sugar, negatively regulates endothelial inflammatory function. This signalling mechanism involves the action of an 'orphan-nuclear receptor', NR4A1 (see PubMed ID 34452975). These mechanisms are relevant to the development of CNS and peripheral inflammatory diseases in children and adults; and relevant to processes that lead to pathologies like hypertension, atherosclerosis, colitis, arthritis and cancer. Work in the laboratory ranges from ‘classical’  intact tissue bioassay approaches, monitoring vascular and smooth muscle contractility, to the cloning, expression and measurement of function of both G-protein-coupled and steroid hormone receptors in cell transfection systems.