Craig Ulrich

Craig Ulrich, Ph.D.

Research Assistant Professor


My research is focused on several projects geared toward understanding the molecular mechanisms that contribute to the regulation of uterine smooth muscle contraction and the onset of labor.

I am working with Dr. Burkin to elucidate the role of matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) in the regulation of uterine contraction and birth timing. We have shown that expression and activity of MMPs 2 and 9 are elevated in the smooth muscle of the preterm laboring uterus, and that the inhibition of these enzymes reduces contraction in human uterine tissue and delays birth in mice (Ulrich et al., 2019). We are currently working to determine specific mechanisms of MMP9 action in uterine smooth muscle, as well as if MMP inhibition prevents preterm delivery in preclinical animal models.

I have a strong background in proteomics, transcriptomics, and bioinformatics. I have worked with Dr. Buxton to identify protein S-nitrosation events that are associated with pregnancy, labor, and preterm labor (Ulrich et al., 2013) and with Dr. Burkin to identify global changes in phospho-signaling networks that occur in response to mechanical strain in uterine smooth muscle (Copley Salem et al., 2018). I am currently working to elucidate how mechanical strain alters the transcriptome to initiate inflammatory signaling and myometrial activation.

Finally, I am working with Dr. Burkin to develop a novel 3D bio-printed model of human uterine tissue. In the long term, we hope this new model can serve as a homogeneous and widely available tissue source for use in experiments to examine important players in contraction and relaxation pathways and for pharmacological studies to identify and test potential new tocolytic drugs.

A microfluidic device is used to deposit human uterine smooth muscle cells

A microfluidic device is used to deposit human uterine smooth muscle cells, matrix materials, and alginate scaffold into 3D ring structures. Cells within synthetic tissues develop elongated morphology and express uterine and smooth muscle-specific proteins.


  • 2019-present Research Assistant Professor, Department of Pharmacology, University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine
  • 2013-2019 Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Pharmacology, University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine
  • 2008-2013 Graduate Assistant, Department of Pharmacology, University of Nevada, Reno
  • 2005-2007 Research Coordinator, Washington DOC/Evergreen State College, Lacy, WA
  • 2001-2004 Research Assistant, Pediatric Molecular Neuro Oncology, Children's Hospital, Seattle
  • 2000-2004 Research Assistant, Marine Molecular Biotechnology Labs, University of Washington, Seattle


  • 2012-2013 Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America Predoctoral Fellowship
  • 2012-2013 Human Proteome Organization Travel Award
  • 2012 Best Poster, Proceedings of the Western Pharmacology Society

Professional Societies

  • 2014-present The American Society for Mass Spectrometry
  • 2013-present The Society for the Study of Reproduction
  • 2012-2018 The Society for Reproductive Investigation


  • B.S. - 2004 Cell and Molecular Biology, University of Washington, Seattle
  • Ph.D. - 2013 Biochemistry, University of Nevada, Reno