Iain L. O. Buxton Pharm.D.: Biography/Education

Regents Professor, Foundation Professor

Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology & Physiology | COBRE in Cell Biology | Department of Pharmacology

Curriculum vitae


  • B.A., 1973, University of California, San Diego, Cell and Molecular Biology
  • Pharm.D., 1978, University of the Pacific


Iain Buxton was born in Buckinghamshire England in 1950 to David and Lesley Buxton who met in North Africa while both served in the Royal Air Force during WWII. Together with his family, Iain emigrated from England to the United States in 1962 on the Queen Mary. Iain grew up in Cambria California and later attended the University of California, San Diego where he was an undergraduate research assistant with Dr. Gordon Sato whose research in hormone-dependent cell growth was important in our early understanding of breast and prostate cancer. Iain presented his first research abstract at the age of nineteen.

After graduating from the University of California San Diego, Iain was appointed as research assistant at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla and worked in the laboratory of Nobel laureate Dr. Robert Holley exploring cellular growth control and differentiation. The years at the Salk were particularly influential on Iain who would sit in Growth Control Group meetings with Salk regulars Renato Dulbecco (Nobel 1975) and Roger Guillemin (Nobel 1977) and summer visitors like James Watson (Nobel 1962), Gennard Matrone among many others. While a lowly research assistant at the time, these experiences were inspiring to Iain. Iain's talents as an experimentalist were noticed by Gennard Matrone, Chair of Biochemistry at North Carolina State University in Raleigh and he recruited Iain to come to the graduate program at NCSU for his Ph.D. training.

Iain left the Salk Institute to study protein chemistry and enzyme kinetics with Dr. A. R. Main in the Biochemistry Department at North Carolina State University in Raleigh. Main had done his postdoctoral training with E.C. Webb at Cambridge and was trying to purify an enzyme, cholinesterase to homogeneity. As a graduate student, Iain assisted in the first report of the purification of this enzyme critical to the regulation of the nervous system (Biochemical Journal 1974, 143(3):733-44). By this time Buxton's research interests had made him acutely aware of the field of pharmacology, the study of the actions of drugs and chemicals on the human body. Buxton attended the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy and Pharmacology graduating in 1978. Dr. Buxton returned to San Diego where he was a clinical resident at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center and later, Director of the Investigational Drug Studies program at the same institution. In 1981, Dr. Buxton joined the Department of Medicine, as a fellow in cardiovascular pharmacology. This was a prestigious opportunity as the position was reserved for MD fellows.

In 1984, Dr. Buxton received a National Institutes of Health New Investigator Award (R23) and joined the faculty at the University of California San Diego as an Assistant Research Pharmacologist. In 1985, Dr. Buxton joined the Department of Pharmacology at the University of Nevada as an Assistant Professor. Dr. Buxton was immediately successful in Nevada and rose rapidly to become a tenured Associate professor in 1989 and Full professor in 1995. In 2008, Dr. Buxton was named UNR Outstanding Researcher of the Year and in 2011 was named Regents Professor. In 2008, Dr. Buxton was named UNR Outstanding Researcher of the Year and in 2011 was named Regents Professor. In 2013, Dr. Buxton was named Foundation Professor. Dr. Buxton is a professor of pharmacology, jointly appointed in the Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology as Clinical Professor. Dr. Buxton's laboratory is NIH-funded and has attracted numerous extramural grants for groups such as the March of Dimes, the American Heart Association and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Dr. Buxton' research into the causes of preterm labor in women, and therapeutic approaches for the treatment of breast cancer has earned international recognition.


The broad interests of our laboratory are those of receptor-signal transduction in mammalian systems. We approach our interests with modern biochemical and molecular methods that include intracellular imaging of events such as calcium release. One of our principal interests, for example, is the problem of premature delivery of babies. The signals that initiate contraction of the uterus at the time of labor are not known. We have recently described the contractile actions of adenyl purines on the smooth muscle of guinea pig uterus and find that the receptor that mediates the contraction of the tissue changes its coupling mechanism significantly during pregnancy in a fashion consistent with a role for these compounds in human parturition. The problem of premature delivery is a devastating human problem that takes its toll both in lives and dollars. We hope to contribute to an understanding of the onset of labor in order to help eliminate the problem of premature delivery.

Learn more on Dr. Buxton's lab page.

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