Robert Halliwell

Robert Halliwell

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At Pacific Since: 2002

Robert F. Halliwell, PhD earned a bachelor of science from University of Stirling in Scotland and a master of science from University of London in England. He earned his doctor of philosophy from University of Dundee in Scotland. Dr. Halliwell completed post-graduate training in neurological science at University of London, in pharmacology at University of Dundee and short-term training at the Rockefeller University, the London School of Pharmacy and Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. Before coming to Pacific he was a Research Fellow at University of California, Irvine. He joined the Pacific family in 2002.

Dr. Halliwell considers himself very fortunate and privileged to teach Pacific's pharmacy students because they are bright, hard-working and respectful. Dr. Halliwell's area of expertise is neuroscience in the context of clinical pharmacology. He is actively involved in the International Brain Research Organization. Dr. Halliwell gives community seminars and lectures on healthy brain aging and the potential value of stem cells in drug discovery and regenerative medicine. He is also on the Medical Ethics Committee at Dignity Health and the advisory board for the Wellness Center of San Joaquin.

Although he is English, the majority of his education took place in Scotland. He is learning to play the guitar as a left-hander, loves trail running and enjoys riding his 2015 Harley-Davidson Street Glide.


BSc, University of Stirling, Scotland, 1983

MSc, University of London, England, 1985

PhD, University of Dundee, Scotland, 1992

Post-graduate in Neurological Science, University of London

Post-graduate in Pharmacology, University of Dundee

Post-Doc in Neuroscience, University of California, Irvine

Teaching Interests

Teaching Philosophy
"If I make it interesting and sometimes fun, we all learn together."

PHRM122 — Physiology & Pathophysiology I
PHRM 146 — Therapeutics I Neuropsychiatry
PG220 — Pharmacology (DDS)

Research Focus

Research Summary
"Our lab is addressing the properties and potential value of neurons derived from a variety of human stem cells for studies in neuropharmacology and neurotoxicology; I have also published work in the history of medicine."

Primary Researchers
Robert F. Halliwell, PhD (Principal Investigator)
Leanne Coyne, PhD (Associate Professor)
William S. Cao, PhD (Post-Doctoral Researcher)
Kathleen L. Metz, BS (Graduate Student)

Research Interests

  • Properties of Neurons Derived from Stem Cells
  • Neurotransmitter Receptors and Ion Channels
  • History of Medicine

Scholarly Activity

Halliwell RF, Salmanzadeh H, presented “Electrophysiological Properties of Human Stem Cell-derived Neurons in Long-term Cell Culture: A Model for Antiseizure Drug Discovery?” at the Society for Neuroscience’s Neuroscience 2021, held virtually Nov. 8-11, 2021.

Halliwell RF, Salmanzadeh H, Coyne L, Cao WS, published “An Electrophysiological and Pharmacological Study of the Properties of Human iPSC-Derived Neurons for Drug Discovery” in Cells, July 31, 2021.

Salmanzadeh H, Ahmadi-Soleimani SM, Azadi M, Halliwell RF, Azizi H published “Adolescent Substance Abuse, Transgenerational Consequences and Epigenetics” in Current Neuropharmacology, March 3, 2021.

Halliwell RF presented “Understanding and Managing Stress and Anxiety” for the Housing Authority of San Joaquin, May 26, 2021.

Halliwell RF presented “Exploring Human Stem Cell-Derived Neurons for Neuropsychiatric Drug Discovery and Safety Testing” International Brain Research Organization, School of Neuroscience, June 15-19, 2019, Khouribga, Morocco.
Halliwell RF presented “A Neuroscientist’s View of How to Maintain a Healthy Brain Without Really Trying” International Brain Research Organization, School of Neuroscience, June 15-19, 2019, Khouribga, Morocco.
Halliwell RF, Tran B, Patel A, Nguyen S presented the workshop “How to Keep a Healthy Brain Without Really Trying” at the Northern California Oromo Community Association, Sept. 29, 2019 in San Lorenzo.
Halliwell RF presented “Progress in the Use of Human Stem Cells to Predict Developmental Neurotoxicity” at the Stem Cells for Drug Discovery and Tox Screening, Oct. 14-15, 2019 in San Diego.
Halliwell RF, Salmanzadeh H presented “Exploring Human Stem Cell-derived Neurons to Evaluate Risk of Developmental Neurotoxicity from Psychotropic Drugs” at the International Society for Stem Cell Research, held virtually June 25, 2020.

Salmanzadeh H, Ahmadi-Soleimani SM, Pachenaria N, Azadia M, Halliwell RF, Rubino T, Azizi H published “Adolescent drug exposure: A review of evidence for the development of persistent changes in brain function” Brain Research Bulletin, Jan. 8, 2020.

Halliwell RF, invited speaker, SelectBIO Stem Cells in Drug Discovery & Toxicity Screening 2018 Conference, Oct. 5, 2018, Coronado.
Halliwell RF, invited speaker, SelectBIO 3D-Culture, Organoids & Tox Screening Europe, June 13-14, 2019, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.

Salmanzadeh H, Soleimani S, Pachenari N, Azadi M, Halliwell RF, Rubino T, Azizi H. Adolescent drug exposure: A review of evidence for the development of persistent changes in brain function. Brain Research Bulletin, 156, 105-117 (2020).

Khansari PS, Halliwell RF, Mechanisms underlying neuroprotection by the NSAID, mefenamic acid in an experimental model of stroke. Frontiers in Neuroscience. (2019).

Halliwell RF, Electrophysiological properties of neurons derived from human stem cells and iNeurons in vitro, Neurochemistry International 106: 37-47 (2017).
Haynes JM, Halliwell RF, The potential of stem cells for 21st century neuroscience, II. Neurochemistry International 106: 1 - 2 (2017).

Cao WS, Livesey JC, Halliwell RF. An evaluation of a human stem cell line to identify risk of developmental neurotoxicity with antiepileptic drugs. Toxicology In Vitro, 29 (3): 592-599 (2015).

Coyne L, Shan M, Przyborski SA, Hirakawa R, Halliwell RF. Neuropharmacological properties of neurons derived from human stem cells, Neurochemistry International, 59(3): 404-12 (2011).

C-R Pruell, A-H Maehle, RF Halliwell (Book). A Short History of the Drug Receptor Concept, Palgrave Macmillan (2009). ISBN-13: 9780230554153.

Khansari PS, Halliwell RF, Evidence for Neuroprotection by the Fenamate NSAID, Mefenamic Acid. Neurochemistry International, 55: 683-688 (2009).

Harris D, et al., Selective influence on contextual memory: physiochemical properties associated with selectivity of benzodiazepine ligands at GABAA receptors containing the α5 subunit. Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, 51: 3788-3803 (2008).

Halliwell, RF. A Short history on the rise of the molecular pharmacology of ionotropic drug receptors, Trends in Pharmacological Sciences, 28 (5): 214 - 219 (2007).

Coyne L, et al., Characterization of the interaction between fenamate NSAIDs and hippocampal neuron GABAA receptors. Neurochemistry International, 51: 440 - 446 (2007).

Johnstone TBC, et al., Antibacterial quinolones yield novel anxiolytics. Nature Medicine, 10 (1): 31-32 (2004).

Maehle, AH, Prüll, CR & Halliwell, RF. The emergence of the drug receptor theory. Nature Reviews, Drug Discovery, 1: 637-641 (2002).