Aura F. Kullmann

  • Research Assistant Professor

Education & Training

  • Bucharest University, Romania B.S. 06/1995 Physics
  • Bucharest University, Romania M.S. 06/1996 Biophysics
  • University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, PA Ph.D. 12/2003 Neurobiology

 A. Personal Statement 

My research carrier is focused on understanding cellular mechanisms underlying various voiding dysfunctions, finding new targets for treatment of these conditions as well as developing and characterizing animal models for voiding dysfunctions. I have performed successfully in academic and industry environment and my long term goal is to continue research in the urology field. I have a solid background and scientific expertise in lower urinary tract physiology, pharmacology and pathology. I also have technical expertise with a variety of in vivo and in vitro methodologies employed in the study of bladder physiology and pathology. These include techniques such as cell culture, immunohistochemistry, calcium imaging and electrophysiology, which are particularly relevant to this application. 

B. Positions 


2013-present Research Assistant Professor, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Department of Medicine, Renal Division 

2004-2009 Postdoctoral Associate, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Department of Pharmacology and Department of Medicine, Pittsburgh PA. 

1998-2003 Graduate Student Researcher, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Department of Neurobiology, Pittsburgh PA. 


2012-2013 Rater training/certification and Romanian translator, NeruoCog Trials, Durham NC. 

2009-2012 Principal/Sr. Scientist, In vivo Pharmacology, Urogenix Inc./Astellas Pharma, Durham NC. 

1996-1997 Research Assistant, Institute of Biotechnology, Bucharest, Romania. 

Honors and other professional activities 

2014 Traveling scholarship from Cure-UAB for attending “CURE-UAB 1st International Congress of Urologic Research and Education on Aging Underactive Bladder meeting 

2014 Scholarship from the University of Pittsburgh Office of Enterprise Development for attending the course “2014 From Benchtop to Bedside: What Every Scientist Needs to Know”

2011 Astellas award for heading the ‘NK2 receptor’ program for underactive bladder 

2011 Astellas award for work on the ‘ERES validation’ project for enabling IND pre-clinical studies at Urogenix 

2011 Astellas award for work on the ‘human tissue’ team for translational studies for testing compounds on tissue from relevant species, human 

2005-2007 Postdoctoral Fellowship from the American Urology Association (AUA) for investigating the role of muscarinic receptors in the bladder 

2002-2003 Predoctoral Fellowship from the Center for Neural Basis of Cognition (CNBC) at Carnegie Mellon University and University of Pittsburgh 

2000 Center for Neuroscience at the University of Pittsburgh (CNUP) Travel Award 

2000 National Academies of Sciences Travel Award 

1999 Center for Neural Basis of Cognition Travel Award 

1998-2002 Predoctoral Scholarship from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. 

C. Contribution to Science 

1. One of my important contribution involved work on the urinary bladder urothelium. This tissue is a specialized epithelium lining the urinary tract. My work demonstrated that urothelial cells express beta-adrenergic receptors, muscarinic receptors, transient receptor potential (TRP) and ASIC-like channels and activation of some of these receptors alters bladder function in vivo. These results support the hypothesis that urothelial cells exhibit specialized sensory and signaling properties that allow communication with neighboring cells including bladder nerves, modulating bladder function. 

a)F. Aura Kullmann, D. Artim, L.A. Birder, W.C. de Groat (2008) Activation of muscarinic receptors in rat bladder sensory pathways alters reflex bladder activity. J Neurosci 28(8):1977-1987. PMID: 18287514; PMCID: PMC2896223. 

b)F. Aura Kullmann, M. Shah, L.A. Birder, W.C. de Groat (2009) Functional TRP and ASIC-like channels in cultured urothelial cells from the rat. Am J Physiol Renal Physiol 296(4):F892-901. PMID: 19158342; PMCID: PMC3973644. 

c) F. Aura Kullmann, T. R. Downs , D. Artim, B. J. Limberg, M. Shah, D. Contract, W. C. de Groat, J. S. Rosenbaum (2011), Urothelial beta3 adrenergic receptors in the rat bladder, Neurourol Urodyn. Jan;30(1):144-50. PMID: 21046653; PMCID: PMC3395322. 

d)F. Aura Kullmann, D. Artim, J. Beckel, S. Barick, W.C. de Groat, L.A. Birder (2008) Expression and function of rat urothelial muscarinic receptors. Am J Physiol Renal Physiol 294(4):F971-981. PMID: 18272602; PMCID: PMC 2756175. 

2. Another area of research involved discovery and validation of novel targets for underactive bladder condition. Underactive bladder is characterized by inability to empty the bladder efficiently and it is a common condition in the elderly and patients with spinal cord injury, diabetes and other neurodegenerative diseases. My work uncovered a number of potential targets that could be further developed as treatments for this condition. 

a)F. Aura Kullmann, Birder LA, Andersson KE (2015), Translational Research and Functional Changes in Voiding Function in Older Adults, Clin Geriatr Med. 2015 Nov;31(4):535-48. Review. PMID: 26476114; PMCID: PMC4865381.

b)F. Aura Kullmann, Grace I. Wells, David McKenna, Karl B. Thor (2014), Excitatory effects of bombesin receptors in urinary tract of normal and diabetic rats in vivo, Life Sci. 2014; PMID: 24496039 [PMCID in Process]; DOI: 10.1016/j.lfs.2014.01.071.

c) F. Aura Kullmann, David McKenna, Grace I. Wells, Karl B. Thor (2013), Functional bombesin receptors in urinary tract of rats and human but not of pigs and mice, an in vitro study, Neuropeptides. 2013 Oct;47(5):305-13. PMID: 24054546; DOI: 10.1016/j.npep.2013.08.003. 

d)F. Aura Kullmann, R. Kurihara, Lan Ye, Grace I. Wells, David G. McKenna, Edward C. Burgard, Karl B. Thor (2013), Effects of the 5-HT4 receptor agonist, cisapride, on neuronally evoked responses in human bladder, urethra, and ileum, Auton Neurosci. 2013 Jun;176(1-2):70-7. PMID: 23511063; DOI: 10.1016/j.autneu.2013.02.020.

e)Artim DE, Kullmann FA, Daugherty SL, Bupp E, Edwards CL, de Groat WC (2011), Developmental and spinal cord injury-induced changes in nitric oxide-mediated inhibition in rat urinary bladder, Neurourol Urodyn, Nov;30(8):1666-74. PMID: 21717503 PMCID: PMC4659496.

View a complete list of published work in My Bibliography