Melissa Barker-Haliski

Research Associate Professor

Department of Pharmacy, Pharmacy Faculty, Plein Center in Geriatrics Faculty, School Faculty

Telephone: (206) 685-1783


Office Location: H375I



BA – University of Oregon
Ph.D. – University of Utah

Research Interests:

  • Epilepsy
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • drug development
  • preclinical research
  • translational research
  • neuroscience
  • pharmacology

Courses Taught:

    • PHARM 499
    • PHRMCY 580 – Current Trends in Pharmaceutical Sciences
    • PHARM 451/551 – Introduction to Drug Discovery and Development


Dr. Barker-Haliski received a BA in Biology and French from the University of Oregon and a PhD in Pharmacology and Toxicology from the University of Utah. Dr. Barker-Haliski has performed in essential capacities within the biotechnology sector, including conducting preclinical drug discovery and testing within a start-up biotechnology company and a large pharmaceutical company and management of large, Phase III clinical trials. Prior to relocating to Seattle and the University of Washington in 2016, Dr. Barker-Haliski was the Associate Director of the NIH-sponsored Anticonvulsant Drug Development Program at the University of Utah. In this role, she was responsible for the characterization and implementation of novel approaches and platforms for preclinical antiseizure drug discovery, including pharmacological validation of the Theiler’s virus model of infection-induced epilepsy. She has co-chaired the American Epilepsy Society/International League Against Epilepsy’s Pharmacology Common Data Elements Working Group since 2014 with the goal to harmonize preclinical pharmacology studies for epilepsy drug discovery by industry, government, and academia.

Dr. Barker-Haliski’s research interests at the University of Washington support the development of novel animal models for the preclinical evaluation and characterization of investigational therapies for epilepsy in special patient populations, including pharmacoresistant epilepsy and epilepsy in the elderly. Her research seeks to understand the impact of aging and aging-related neurological disorders on seizure susceptibility, pharmacotherapeutic response, and long-term disease outcomes. She actively collaborates with UW faculty in the School of Medicine to develop novel preclinical platforms to identify novel therapeutic targets for antiseizure drug discovery for elderly patients with epilepsy. Further, she is interested in differentiating the available, well-established animal models from next-generation animal seizure and epilepsy models to best identify more effective therapies for the treatment and prevention of epilepsy in patients with drug-resistant epilepsy.