Auburn Pharmacist Spotlight: Miranda Reed

Miranda Reed New HSOP faculty member Dr. Miranda Reed.

September 10, 2015

AUBURN UNIVERSITY, Ala. – Periodically, the Harrison School of Pharmacy will highlight one of its students, faculty members, staff members or alums. For September, we will learn more about new faculty member and Auburn alumnae Miranda Reed.

Reed was recently hired as an associate professor in the Department of Drug Discovery and Development. A three-time Auburn graduate, she has a bachelor’s degree in psychology (2002), a master’s in experimental psychology (2005) and a Ph.D. in experimental psychology (2007). After leaving Auburn, she completed a fellowship at the University of Minnesota. She now returns to Auburn after five years on faculty at West Virginia University.

Welcome back to The Plains! Tell us about yourself.
“I am originally from Moulton, Alabama. I graduated from Auburn with PhD in Psychology in 2007. During my time at Auburn, I met my husband, Luke Barnes, while playing pool at Momma Goldberg’s. After graduating, we moved to Minneapolis where I worked at the University of Minnesota for three years. I next moved to West Virginia University, where I worked for five years as an Assistant Professor before moving to Auburn to join the Department of Drug Discovery and Development as an Associate Professor. In my spare time, I enjoy deep sea fishing!”

Being an Auburn grad, so this is a bit of a homecoming for you. What is it like coming back to Auburn after being away for several years? How have things changed?
“Returning to Auburn has been a great experience. I always said that if I had a chance to return, I would. My dad was a huge Auburn fan, so growing up I learned to love Auburn just as much. The growth and development of Auburn since I left in 2007 has been astounding. Auburn always had a beautiful campus, but it is even more beautiful now. The community seems to be thriving, and the growth of neighboring areas, like Opelika, is great to see.”

Someone looking at your bio would notice that all of your degrees are in psychology/experimental psychology. How does your background come in to play at a pharmacy school, and specifically in the Department of Drug Discovery and Development (DDD)?
“To move a drug from pre-clinical animal studies to human clinical trials, it is imperative to understand how that drug affects behavior, in addition to other possible side effects. For example, if a drug for the treatment of diabetes produces severe motor deficits, it is unlikely this drug would progress to clinical trials. Identifying the behavioral effects of a new drug is sometimes referred to as ‘pre-clinical behavioral phenotyping,’ and as a specialty of mine, is one of the ways my training may facilitate research in DDD.

“Much of my work focuses on identification of therapeutic targets for the treatment of memory disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease and ‘normal’ cognitive aging. This work includes the development of new drugs, as well as the repurposing of existing drugs, in preclinical models.”

You recently received a National Institutes of Health/National Institute on Aging grant of $355,000 to study possible mechanisms by which aging increases the risk for Alzheimer’s disease. Tell us more about that project and what you plan to do as part of the study?
“Aging is the greatest known risk factor for Alzheimer’s Disease (AD). Researchers have attempted to reproduce the effects of aging in mice through the expression of human genes containing mutations in proteins known to promote pathological changes in humans. While this approach replicates many aspects of Alzheimer’s pathology, the models are incomplete.

“An aged brain may enhance pathological changes, and equally troubling, pathological changes may exert different effects on an aged versus a young brain. To date, studying the interaction between mutant proteins linked to AD and an aged brain has been challenging because of the difficulty in separating the effects of prolonged mutant protein expression from those of an aged brain per se. Fortunately, my lab has two lines of mice harboring regulatable genes, the expression of which can be turned on or off at the discretion of the researcher.

“Because we can wait to turn on mutant protein expression until the mice have aged, these unique mice allow us to study the effects of aging independently of prolonged mutant protein expression. Determining whether these mutant proteins differentially affect an aged brain is essential to increasing the validity of pre-clinical mouse studies and may help explain why aging is the greatest risk factor for AD.”

You came to Auburn after holding positions at Minnesota and West Virginia. What was it that stood out to you about HSOP and DDD that interested you in the position here?
“In my previous positions, I was able to work on drug discovery and development projects, but I was never part of a group that included each component of the drug discovery and development process. What excited me about DDD was the presence of specialists for almost every part of the process in one department. I was also excited to fill a niche (preclinical behavioral phenotyping) within DDD.

“I was excited to join the HSOP because I remembered from my time in Auburn that HSOP was a nationally recognized program and well respected across the University. I wanted to be a part of such a group.”

Miranda Reed
Pictured with Dr. Reed are graduate researchers Holly Hunsberger and Sharay Setti.


About the Harrison School of Pharmacy
Auburn University’s Harrison School of Pharmacy is ranked among the top 20 percent of all pharmacy schools in the United States, according to U.S. News & World Report. Fully accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE), the School offers doctoral degrees in pharmacy (Pharm.D.) and pharmaceutical sciences (Ph.D.) while also offering a master’s in pharmaceutical sciences. In 2014, the school adopted the slogan, “Making Medications Work Through Innovative Research, Education and Patient Care.” For more information about the School, please call 334.844.8348 or visit

Last Updated: March 28, 2017