subcellular drug delivery, molecular imaging, predictive algorithm design

Research Interests

Associate Professor

Pharmaceutical Sciences
Gatton College of Pharmacy

Ph.D., University of California Los Angeles, 2008, Molecular & Medical Pharmacology

B.S., Tulane University,
2001, Mathematics, Cell/Molecular Biology

East Tennessee State University

Johnson City, TN 37614


Office: Pharmacy 319

Lab: Stanton-Gerber A125

Academic Distinctions

AACP New Investigator Award, 2013

Research Training in the Pharmacological Sciences Fellow, 2002-2005
Bioinformatics Integrated Graduate Education and Research Trainee, 2002
Mathematical Biology REU Fellow, 2000


Postdoctoral Researcher, University of Michigan, 2008-2011

Research Foci

1) Building tools for the delivery of drugs (small and macro) into specific organelles of mammalian cells: In order for drugs to interact with targets inside the cell, they must overcome a number of barriers. Various microorganisms have evolved mechanisms for overcoming these barriers in order to deliver their own genetic material and replicate within host cells. Our goal is to adapt these mechanisms and combine them into a single delivery vehicle that can successfully deliver macromolecular therapeutics to diseased cells.

2) Designing algorithms that can predict functional responses based on drug profiles: An individual’s drug regimen is reflective of overall health status and can be indicative of various multifactorial clinical outcomes. Our goal is to develop and validate computational algorithms that can predict clinical outcomes based solely on medication profiles.


Hall CD, Karpen S, Odle BL, Panus PC, Walls ZF. “Development and Evaluation of the Medication-based Index of Physical function (MedIP)” Age and Aging. 2017.

Anson E, Thompson E, Odle BL, Jeka J, Walls ZF, Panus PC. “Influences of Age, Obesity, and Adverse Drug Effects on Balance and Mobility Testing Score in Ambulatory Older Adults.” J Geriatr Phys Ther. 2017.

Walls ZF, Gong H, Wilson RJ. “Liposomal Coencapsulation of Doxorubicin with Listeriolysin O Increases Potency via Subcellular Targeting.” Mol Pharm. 13(3):1185-90, 2016.

Walls ZF, Bossaer JB, Cluck D. “Using Scientific Inquiry to Increase Knowledge of Vaccine Theory and Infectious Diseases.” Educ Health (Abingdon). 29(2):95-106, 2016.

Walls ZF, Gupta SV, Amidon GL, Lee KD. “Synthesis and Characterization of Valyloxy Methoxy Luciferin for the Detection of Valacyclovirase and Peptide Transporter.” Bioorg Med Chem Lett. 24(20):4781-3, 2014.

Loening AM, Walls ZF. “Engineering Luciferase for Assays and Imaging.” Engineering in Translational Medicine. Ed. Cai W. Springer, 2014.

Walls ZF, Goodell S, Andrews CD, Mathis J, Lee KD. “Mutant of listeriolysin O for enhanced liposomal drug delivery of macromolecules.” J Biotechnol. 164(4):500-502, 2013.

Sun J, Dahan A, Walls ZF, Lai L, Lee KD, Amidon GL. “Specificity of a prodrug-activating enzyme hVACVase: the leaving group effect.” Mol Pharm. 7(6):2362-8, 2010.

Walls ZF, Puttaraju M, Temple GF, Gambhir SS. “A Generalizable Strategy for Imaging pre-mRNA Levels in Living Subjects Using Spliceosome-Mediated RNA Trans-splicing.” J Nucl Med. 49(7):1146-1154, 2008.

Walls ZF, Gambhir SS. “BRET-based method for detection of specific RNA species.” Bioconjug Chem. 19(1):178-84, 2008.

Gambhir SS, Deroose C, Walls Z. “Cell Biology Fundamentals.” Nuclear Medicine in Clinical Diagnosis and Treatment, 3rd Ed. Eds. Ell PJ, Gambhir SS. New York, NY: Churchill Livingstone, 2004. 1687-1713.

Bhaumik S, Walls Z, Puttaraju M, Mitchel LG, Gambhir SS. “Molecular imaging of gene expression in living subjects by spliceosome-mediated RNA trans-splicing.” PNAS. 101 (23):8693-8, 2004.

Chauvet E, Paullet JE, Previte JP, Walls Z. “A Lotka-Volterra Three-species Food Chain” Mathematics Magazine. 75(4):243-255, 2002.

Former Lab Members:

Irene Abia, PhD

Katie Barron, PharmD

Chris Blackburn, PharmD

Wesley Brillhart

Josh Brown, PharmD

Jennifer Carmical, PharmD

Laura Cyphers, PharmD

Jun Dai

Henry Gong

Elle Harrison, BS

Brent Henderson, PharmD

Moses Holleyman, PharmD

Tyler Jones, PharmD

Stephen Lance, PharmD

Monica Masters

Alex Mink, PharmD

Ryan Pritchard, PharmD

Matt Schwengels, PharmD

Dana Suich, PharmD

Benjamin Sypniewski, PharmD

Teddy Taylor

Robert Vincent, PharmD

Wes Waters, PharmD

Stephen Widing, PharmD

Rebecca Wilson