Shaifali Bhalla, Ph.D.

Associate Professor
Downers Grove, IL

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The broad area of research in my laboratory is opioid tolerance and withdrawal.  My research interests include exploring the signaling mechanisms involved in the pharmacological actions of opioid analgesics such as morphine and oxycodone. We are presently investigating the signaling pathways by which endothelin-A receptor antagonists enhance opioid analgesia and reverse analgesic tolerance. Our research is also focused on the role of endothelin-A and endothelin-B receptors in neuroadaptations in the brain during opioid withdrawal.

Associate Professor

Downers Grove, IL

College of Pharmacy
Downers Grove Campus

Pharmaceutical Sciences


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University of Illinois at Chicago | 2005 | Ph.D.
Birla Institute of Technology & Science
India | 1998 | Pharm.D.

Courses Taught

Chicago College of Pharmacy (CCP):
PSCID1515: Introduction to Biopharmaceutics and Pharmacokinetics (Course Director)
PSCID1301: Special Projects or Research (Research Mentor)

PSCID 1384: Advanced Topics in Pharmacogenomics (Course Instructor on CNS Topics in PGx)



Project I: Investigating the mechanism of endothelin-A receptor interaction with opioid analgesics
We have found that endothelin-A receptor (ETAR) antagonists potentiate opioid analgesia and reverse analgesic tolerance. Withdrawal symptoms of opioids such as morphine and oxycodone are also reversed by ETAR antagonists. Preliminary findings suggest that the enhancement of analgesia and reversal of tolerance is mediated via a G-protein mediated mechanism. We are currently investigating the role of cAMP signaling mechanisms with acute and chronic exposure to opioids in the presence and absence of ETAR antagonists. The role of calcium signaling events in these phenomena are also being explored.

Project II: Endothelin-B receptors in angiogenesis and neurogenesis in opioid tolerance and withdrawal
In this project we propose to evaluate the role of endothelin-B receptors in opioid tolerance and withdrawal. Using chronic opioid treatment regimens, morphine and oxycodone tolerance will be induced in animal models. Withdrawal will be precipitated using naloxone and the dose-response effect of IRL1620 (endothelin-B receptor selective agonist) on tolerance and withdrawal symptoms will be determined. The expression of endothelin A and B receptors, vascular endothelial growth factor, and nerve growth factor will be determined in the brain. It is anticipated that through use of endothelin-B agonists, tolerance and withdrawal symptoms may be reversed and analgesic efficacy of opioids may be restored.


  1. Karlinski Z., Shan S., Zhang Z., Gilchrist A, Bhalla S. Development and optimization of cAMP-GloSensor™ assay in HEK293 and SH-SY5Y human neuroblastoma cells. Poster Presentation at ASHP Midyear 2019 Clinical Meeting, Las Vegas, NV, December 8-12, 2019.   

  2. Bhalla S., Karlinski Z., Bosco K., Zhang Z., Gilchrist A. Assessment of Morphine Tolerance Using cAMP-GloSensor™ Real-time Detection Assay in SH-SY5Y Human Neuroblastoma Cells. Experimental Biology/ASPET Annual Meeting, San Diego, CA, April 4-7, 2020.  Abstract published in FASEB Journal, April 2020.  

  3. Bhalla S., Pais G., Tapia M., and Gulati A; Endothelin ETA Receptor Antagonist Reverses Naloxone-precipitated Opioid Withdrawal in Mice. Can J Physiol Pharmacol. 2015; 93(11): 935-944, PMID: 26440527. 
  4. Bhalla S., Leonard M.G., Briyal S., and Gulati A; Distinct Alteration in Brain Endothelin A and B Receptor Characteristics Following Focal Cerebral Ischemia in Rats. Drug Research (Stuttg). 2016 Apr;66(4):189-95. doi: 10.1055/s-0035-1559779. Epub 2015 Sep 23. PMID: 26398673.  
  5. Bhalla S., Andurkar S.V., and Gulati A; Neurobiology of Opioid Withdrawal: Role of the Endothelin System. Life Sci. 2016 Aug 15;159:34-42. doi: 10.1016/j.lfs.2016.01.016. Epub 2016 Jan 13.  
  6. Gulati S., Jones S., Bhalla S., Briyal S., and Gulati A.; Attenuation of opioid tolerance by ETB receptor agonist, IRL-1620, is independent of an accompanied decrease in nerve growth factor in mice. Heliyon. 2017 Jun 7;3(6):e00317. doi: 10.1016/j.heliyon.2017.e00317.   


Secretary & Treasurer, Neuropharmacology Division, American Society of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics (ASPET)                     

Member, American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists

Member, American College of Clinical Pharmacology (ACCP)

Member, American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy


  • Midwestern University, Chicago College of Pharmacy Faculty Pilot Research Grant (May 2019)
    • Role: Principal Investigator
    • Grant Title: Signaling mechanisms involved in endothelin-A receptor mediated attenuation of opioid tolerance and withdrawal 
    • Duration of the grant 07/01/2019 – 06/30/2020            


CCP PS-1 Teacher of the Year, 2019-2020

CCP PS-1 Teacher of the Year, 2017-2018

CCP PS-1 Teacher of the Year, 2016-2017