Christopher Williams, PhD



Christopher Williams, PhD

Associate Professor of Pharmacology

Chair, Division of Basic Pharmaceutical Sciences

Dr. Williams is an associate professor and Chair of the Division of Basic Pharmaceutical Sciences in Xavier’s University College of Pharmacy. As an undergraduate, he trained at Southern University at New Orleans where he earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Biology. As a doctoral student at Tulane University he pursued his PhD in pharmacology, while studying the impact of HIV-Tat protein on hematopoietic differentiation and chemokine receptor expression. As a postdoctoral fellow in the Tulane Cancer Center, Dr. Williams studied kinase and nuclear receptor signaling crosstalk in breast cancer progression and drug resistance. He later joined Xavier University College of Pharmacy as an assistant professor of pharmacology and has continued his work toward the development of novel therapeutic targets in breast cancer, with an emphasis on modulation of nuclear receptor signaling. Throughout his career, Dr. Williams has been committed to mentoring underrepresented minority students/scientists in the biomedical sciences. Students/scientists that he’s mentored have gone on to be tenure track faculty, pharmacists, physicians and research fellows. He continues to work on developing programs that will expand opportunities for Xavier graduates in the field of biomedical research.


Education: Postdoctoral Fellow, Endocrine-related Cancer Signaling, Tulane Cancer Center

PhD in Pharmacology, Tulane University

BS, Biology Southern University at New Orleans


Teaching Areas: Basic Principles of Pharmacodynamics and

Pharmacokinetics, toxicology, Pharmacology of the autonomic system,

Pharmacology of antineoplastic drugs, antirheumatic drugs,

 antithrombotic drugs, antihyperlipidemic drugs.



Research Interests: Dr. Williams’ research focuses on discovering novel therapeutic approaches to the treatment of breast cancer.  Specifically, the lab studies the impact of Protein Kinase CK2 inhibition on estrogen signaling in breast cancer, with the premise that CK2 inhibitor may function as an alternative therapy for patients whose cancer is refractory to endocrine therapy.  The lab is investigating the role of the orphan nuclear receptor NR4A2/NURR1 in breast cancer prognosis, and as a potential therapeutic target for breast cancer prevention.  Studies are also underway to elucidate the molecular mechanisms involved in the anti-neoplastic effects of the antidiabetic biguanides, such as metformin and phenformin, to disrupt inflammatory autocrine and paracrine signaling in the breast cancer microenvironment.  Dr. Williams has been supported through NIH, the Office of Naval Research, LCRC, and RCMI.  Additionally, he has served as mentor for students in the COE, RISE, MARC, UNCF STEM Scholars, McNair Scholars, and LS-LAMP programs for undergraduate research.


Selected Publications:

Christopher Williams, June G. Allison, Luis Marrero, Gregory A. Vidal, and Frank E. Jones. “The ERBB4 receptor tyrosine kinase regulates expression by functioning as a STAT5A nuclear chaperone” Journal of Cell Biology. 167(3):469-78, 2004 Nov 8.


Christopher  Williams, Debasis Mondal, Krishna  Agrawal “HIV-1 Tat protein enhances CREB co-activation by CBP and increases megakaryocytic commitment of K562 cells” Experimental Biology & Medicine. 230(11):872-84, 2005


Debasis Mondal, Christopher  Williams, Krishna  Agrawal “ HIV-1 Tat modulates expression of the HIV-1 co-receptors CXCR4 and CCR5 in K562 hematopoietic progenitor cells” Experimental Biology & Medicine. 230(9):631-44, 2005 Oct.


Christopher Williams, Diane Clark, Tamika Duplessis, and Frank E Jones. “ErbB4 regulates STAT5a transcriptional activity by modulating phosphorylation of both serine and phosphotyrosine residues”. Journal of Biological Chemistry. 280(25):24175-80, 2005 Jun 24


Yun Zhu, Lacey Sullivan, Sujit Nair, Christopher Williams,  Arvind, Pandy  Luis Marrero, Ratna Vadlamudi,  Frank Jones “Coregulation of Estrogen Receptor by Estrogen-Inducible ERBB4/HER4 Establishes a Growth Promoting Autocrine Signaling Pathway in Breast Cancer.” Cancer Research 66(16) 7991-7998 2006


George P. Skliris, Brian G. Rowan, Mariam Al-Dhaheri, Christopher Williams, Sandy Troup, Sanela Begic, Michelle Parisien, Peter H. Watson and Leigh C. Murphy “Immunohistochemical validation of multiple phospho-specific epitopes for estrogen receptor α (ERα) in tissue microarrays of ERα positive human breast carcinomas” Breast Cancer Research and Treatment 2009 Dec;118(3):443-53


Leigh Murphy, Georgios Skliris, Brian Rowan, Mariam Al-Dhaheri, Christopher Williams, Carla Penner, Snady Troup, Senela Begic, Michelle Parisien, Peter Watson “The relevance of phosphorylated forms of estrogen receptor in human breast cancer in vivo” Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, 114 (1-2) 2009, 90-95


Christopher Williams, Aninda Basu, Latonya Carrier, Carolyn Smith, Brian Rowan “Novel Phosphorylation Sites in Estrogen Receptor α: Impact on Receptor-Dependent Gene Expression and Phosphorylation by Protein Kinase CK2” BMC Biochem. 2009 Dec 31;10:36.


Melissa Heard, Claude V. Main, Benjamin E. Morehead, Marius C. Hoener, Tri Q. Nguyen, Christopher C. Williams, Brian G. Rowan, Chris R. Gissendanner “A functional NR4A nuclear receptor DNA-binding domain is required for organ development in C. elegans” Gen. 2010 Aug;48(8):485-91


Tamika T. Duplessis, Christopher C. Williams, Steven M. Hill, and Brian G. Rowan "Phosphorylation of ERα at Serine 118 directs recruitment of promoter complexes and gene specific transcription", Endo 2011 152: 2517-2526


Brandy Huderson, Tamika Duplessis, Christopher  Williams, Henry Segar, Steven Hill, Brian Rowan, “Stable inhibition of specific estrogen receptor alpha (ERα) phosphorylation confers increased growth, migration/invasion and disruption of estradiol signaling in MCF-7 breast cancer cells.” Endo 2012, 153:4144-59.


Shawn D Llopis, Brittany A Singleton, Tamika T Duplessis, Latonya Jackson, Brian G Rowan and Christopher C Williams “Dichotomous roles for the orphan nuclear receptor NURR1 in breast cancer.” BMC Cancer 2013 13:139


Christopher C. Williams, Brittany A. Singleton, Shawn D. Llopis, Elena Skripnikova “Metformin induces a senescence-associated gene signature in breast cancer.” J Health Care Poor Underserved 2013, 24(1 Suppl):93-103.


Syreeta L. Tilghman, Ian Townley, Qiu Zhong, Patrick P. Carriere, Jin Zou, Shawn D. Llopis, Lynez C. Preyan, Christopher C. Williams, Elena Skripnikova, Qiang Zhang and Guangdi Wang “Proteomic Signatures of acquired letrozole resistance in breast cancer: suppressed estrogen signaling and increased cell motility and invasiveness.” Mol Cell Proteomics 2013 12: 2440-2455


Marlon Williams, Thu Nguyen, Patrick Carriere, Syreeta Tilghman, Christopher Williams. “Protein Kinase CK2 Expression Predicts Relapse Survival in ERα Dependent Breast Cancer, and Modulates ERα Expression in Vitro.”  Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2015 Dec 22;13(1):ijerph13010036.


Chandler Schexnayder, Kiera Broussard, Demitrius Onuaguluchi, Anthony Poché A, Mohmen Ismail, LeFontae McAtee, Shawn Llopis, Amber Keizerweerd, Harris McFerrin, Christopher Williams. “Metformin Inhibits Migration and Invasion by Suppressing ROS Production and COX2 Expression in MDA-MB-231 Breast Cancer Cells.” Int J Mol Sci. 2018 Nov 21;19(11). pii: E3692.




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