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Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Stephen Hecht Named DDRL Honoree

Dr. Stephen Hecht was named one of the 2017 Dean's Distinguished Research Lectureship Honorees, which recognizes the best research faculty in the basic and clinical sciences. To be considered, honorees must have the first or last author credits on a publication that has been cited at least 1,000 times by others. Dr. Hecht will give a presentation on his research at the award ceremony on October 26th. The announcement is here.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Dr. Peter Dosa Awarded CDMRP Grant

Congratulations to Dr. Peter Dosa of the ITDD, who received an Investigator-Initiated Research Award of $2,278,764. The project will be funded by the Department of Defense's Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs.

The grant was awarded for Dr. Dosa's project "Development of Gut-Restricted Bile Acid Analogs Inhibitory to C. difficile Infection," which seeks to develop a treatment to C. difficile infections that often develops as a result of antibiotic overuse. By researching and utilizing bile acids that occur naturally in the body, Dosa's team hopes to derive therapeutic compounds that can be used to inhibit the C. difficile infection, as an alternative to current fecal microbiota transplant treatments.

You can read more about Dr. Dosa's project here.

Dr. Gunda Georg and Dr. Rebecca Cuellar Featured in Star Tribune Article

Drs. Gunda Georg and Rebecca Cuellar of the ITDD were featured in the Star Tribune story, "Male Contraception Gaining Sex Appeal, Gustavus Survey Finds." They discuss their research and development of H2-Gamendazole, a molecule which causes reversible infertility. You can read the full article here.

Monday, September 25, 2017

NIPTE Awarded $35 Million in Funding from the FDA

The National Institute for Pharmaceutical Technology and Education (NIPTE), which boasts Medicinal Chemistry's own Dr. Vadim Gurvich as executive director, was recently awarded $35 million dollars in funding from the Food and Drug Administration, to be allocated over a 5-year period. The grant will support a multitude of different projects in the pharmaceutical field from improvements in manufacturing and technology to research and education.

"We are very excited about the opportunity to continue this collaboration with the U.S. FDA," explains Dr. Gurvich, who is also the principal investigator on the grant. "The funding allows NIPTE faculty to contribute their research expertise, helping the FDA create policies in critical areas such as quality by design of complex pharmaceutical products, characterization of pharmaceutical materials, and formulation strategies like abuse deterrent products to combat opioid abuse. In addition, NIPTE will also address topics such as Quality Metrics and Quality Score Card as tools to improve surveillance and risk-based decisions. This brings our decade-long collaboration with the FDA to the next level, allowing us to make a bigger impact on quality, safety, and affordability of pharmaceutical products."

Read more about the grant here.  

Dr. Georg Interviewed for This is Sex with Lisa Ling

Dr. Gunda Georg was recently interviewed for the CNN documentary series This is Sex with Lisa Ling, which explores how sex is perceived, discussed, and stigmatized in the U.S. She is shown working in her lab and discussing her work into the development of a male contraceptive pill.

"We’re actually taking three main approaches," explains Dr. Georg, "The first one is to reduce sperm count so that a man is no longer fertile because there are not enough sperm produced. The second approach is to prevent sperm from completely forming, and the third approach is to inhibit sperm motility." When asked about the importance of this research she responds, "I think the world needs it. People really want to be in control of their lives and they want to also control when they start their families.”

Watch the entire segment here. Dr. Georg is featured at 8:57 under the segment "Control."

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Dr. Walters Awarded a Minnesota Partnership Grant

Dr. Michael Walters of the Institute for Therapeutics Discovery and Development has been awarded one of six recent grants from the Minnesota Partnership for Biotechnology and Medical Genomics. Dr. Walters project "Precision Medicine of Aromatase Inhibitors in Post-Menopausal Women with ER+ Breast Cancer," seeks to use DNA sequencing to study the unique responses that different individuals have to aromatase inhibitors, which are often a first treatment step to the most common type of breast cancer. By studying DNA differences, Dr. Walters hopes to offer clinicians new ways to individualize breast cancer treatment and to better understand resistances to treatment. This seed grant is supported by state funding. You can read more about the grant in the Twin Cities Business article.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Dr. Nelson Featured in Article on Turmeric Claims

Dr. Kathryn Nelson, principle scientist in the Walters laboratory, was recently interviewed for an article in the Washington Post raises doubts about recent claims that curcumin, a compound found in turmeric, may be effective in fighting arthritis, depression, and even cancer. As the article states, "If turmeric does have benefits, Nelson suggests, curcumin may not be the compound that delivers them. 'There are things that can fool you into thinking a compound is active when it’s not,' she says. (Active compounds are ones that have an actual effect on the body.) She notes that many studies mix curcumin with oils or other substances and that clinical trials are inconsistent in how they use the compound." Read the full article here.

Dr. Aldrich Cited in Articles on Psilocybin Mushroom Research

Dr. Courtney Aldrich was recently quoted in an article by Chemical & Engineering News discussing recent breakthroughs in identifying enzymes that characterize the psilocybin compound found in "magic mushrooms." As Dr. Aldrich explains in the article, "The new work lays the foundation for developing a fermentation process for production of this powerful psychedelic fungal drug, which has a fascinating history and pharmacology.” He is also cited in a similar article by Gizmodo,"Scientists Finally Unlock the Recipe for Magic Mushrooms."

Read more here and here.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Bloomberg References U of M Research into the Male Contraceptive

A recent article by Bloomberg titled "Why We Can't Have the Male Pill" makes reference to the University's efforts, headed by Dr. Gunda Georg, to create a new male contraceptive that targets sperm directly.  Read the full article here.

Dr. Walters Featured in Daily Express Article

Dr. Michael Walters is cited in a recent article by the Daily Express questioning claims that curcumin, a chemical found in turmeric, could be beneficial for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease, diabetes, and obesity. Read the full article here.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Medicinal Chemistry Faculty Awarded Grant Funding

Congratulations to faculty members who were recently awarded grants for their ongoing research!:

  • Dr. Sunil David received an award of $300K from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases to support additional studies related to his ongoing work on vaccines for the Zika virus.
  • Dr. Mark Distefano, along with Dr. Ling Li, received a $1.875M National Institutes of Health award for their project, "Dysregulation of Protein Prenylation in the Pathogenesis of Alzheimer's Disease."
  • Dr. Natalia Tretyakova received a $1,581,939 National Institutes of Health grant for her project, "DNA Cross-Linking By Diepoxybutane."

Dr. Peter Dosa Receives a Promotion

Congratulations to Dr. Peter Dosa who was promoted to Affiliate Research Associate Professor!

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Dr. Natalia Tretyakova Receives a Grant from the National Institutes of Health

Dr. Tretyakova has been awarded a grant of $342,947 from the National Institutes of Health for her project, "DNA Cross-Linking By Diepoxybutane." The objective of this project is to identify specific DNA lesions responsible for the genotoxic effects of DEB (1,2,3,4-diepoxybutane) an intermediate produced by the metabolic activation of BD (1,3-butadiene)a known human carcinogen produced industrially and found in automobile exhaust and cigarette smoke.  Dr. Tretyakova and colleagues hope to afford new insights into the mechanisms of BD's mutagenicity and cytotoxicity, reducing the uncertainty in cancer risk assessment for human exposure to BD.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Dr. Georg inducted into the Medicinal Chemistry Hall of Fame

Dr. Gunda Georg has been selected for induction into the Medicinal Chemistry Hall of Fame, Class of 2017. The induction recognizes her as a pioneer who has made impactful discoveries in the field of medicinal chemistry. She will be recognized at the Fall American Chemical Society meeting on August 22nd in Washington D.C.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Josh Shirley wins the Outstanding TA Award

Josh Shirley, a graduate student in the Department of Medicinal Chemistry, is the winner of the Outstanding TA Award for 20162017 as presented by the College of Pharmacy's Office of Teaching, Learning, and Assessment. 

Ann Howarth wins a 2016 College of Pharmacy Meritorious Service Award

Staff member Ann Howarth was awarded a Meritorious Service Award for excellent work in the Department of Medicinal Chemistry in 2016. The award ceremony took place during the 15th Annual College of Pharmacy Employee Day held on June 1st at the Glensheen Mansion in Duluth. Ann Howarth is the Executive Office and Administrative Specialist for laboratories in the Cancer and Cardiovascular Research Building for Medicinal Chemistry. 

Ann Howarth, pictured 4th from the left, was one of several staff members honored for excellent work in the Department of Medicinal Chemistry. 

Dr. Abul-Hajj Set to Retire on June 30, 2017

After a five-year phased retirement, Professor Yusuf Abul-Hajj is set to retire June 30. A faculty member since 1968, Dr. Abul-Hajj has served in many leadership positions, including head of the Department of Medicinal Chemistry for 21 years. Under his leadership, Medicinal Chemistry became one of the top ranked departments in the country and prepared numerous future medicinal chemists. He also served as senior editor of the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry from 1995 to 2012. For nearly 50 years, he has conducted groundbreaking research on the development of steroidal agents for the treatment of breast cancer as well as studying the underlying mechanisms involved in the genotoxicity and carcinogenicity of estrogen. In 2012, Dr. Abul-Hajj co-authored the book, From Digitalis to Ziagen, which covers the history of Medicinal Chemistry at the college, including the establishment of the department as well as the leadership role the department and its faculty played in drug development. He has received many awards and recognition throughout his career, including the Lawrence and Delores Weaver Medal, and was named a Fellow of both the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Chemical Society.

Please join in thanking Dr. Abul-Hajj for his years of significant contribution to our college and to medicinal chemistry. 

Friday, June 16, 2017

Dr. Georg featured in Counsel & Heal Article

Dr. Gunda Georg, Medicinal Chemistry Department Head, was featured in a Counsel & Heal article written on June 9, 2017, "A Man Needs a Pill: The Race To Find A Male Contraceptive".

You can find the article at http://www.counselheal.com/articles/39621/20170609/sexual-reproduction-male-contraceptive-sex-sexual-intercourse-reporduction.htm

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Dr. Abul-Hajj selected to receive Citation of Merit from the University of Wisconsin-Madison

Dr. Yusuf Abul-Hajj was selected to receive a Citation of Merit from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Citations of Merit are awarded to those individuals who have an outstanding record of contribution to pharmacy and society through research, teaching, or involvement in professional and community organization.  Only an honorary degree constitutes a higher University honor than a Citation.

Dr. Turesky featured in Washington Post Article

Dr. Robert Turesky was featured in the article "Evidence grows linking grilled meat and cancer, but you can lower the risk" in the Washington Post.

Read the article here.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Dr. Remmel Awarded a Grant-in-Aid of Research, Artistry, and Scholarship

Dr. Rory Remmel awarded a Grant-in-Aid of Research, Artistry, and Scholarship from the Office of the Vice President for Research to fund a UHPLC with UV and fluorescent detectors.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Dr. Tretyakova Awarded a Grant-in-Aid of Research, Artistry, and Scholarship

Dr. Natalia Tretyakova received a Grant-in-Aid of Research, Artistry, and Scholarship from the Office of the Vice President for Research to fund a DNA/RNA synthesizer.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Dr. Elizabeth Ambrose Selected as Professor of the Year

Dr. Elizabeth Ambrose has been selected as professor of the year by the Twin Cities class of 2018.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Dr. David Ferguson Selected as Professor of Fall Semester 2016

Dr. David Ferguson, a Medicinal Chemistry professor, was selected as professor of fall semester 2016 by Class of 2020.

Alex Strom receives AFPE Fellowship

Alex Strom, a Medicinal Chemistry graduate student in the Wagner lab, received an American Foundation of Pharmaceutical (AFPE) Fellowship.

Daniel Harki Seed Grant Recipient for Lung Caner Project

Daniel Harki received a $30,000 seed grant for the project, “Targeted Protein Degradation with Small Molecule PROTACs: A Novel Strategy to Regulate NF-kB Signaling in Lung Cancer”

Monday, May 1, 2017

Sydney Schmidt awarded the 2017 David A. and Merece H. Johnson Scholarship

Sydney Schmidt, a junior undergraduate Chemistry major in Danil Harki's group, received the 2017 David A. and Merece H. Johnson Scholarship for outstanding achievement in undergraduate research as well as overall scholastic excellence. This award is from the UMN Department of Chemistry.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Joseph Buonomo Receives 2017-2018 Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship

Congratulations to Joseph Buonomo, a Medicinal Chemistry graduate student in the Aldrich laboratory, who was awarded a 2017-2018 Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Sydney Schmidt, Medicinal Chemistry Undergraduate Student, Receives UMN Department of Chemistry Award

Sydney Schmidt, a junior undergraduate Chemistry major in the Harki lab, received the 2017 David A. and Merece H. Johnson Scholarship for outstanding achievement in undergraduate research as well as overall scholastic excellence. This award is from the UMN Department of Chemistry.

Dr. Turesky Receives Driven to Discover State Fair Grant

Dr. Robert Turesky received a $7,500 Driven to Discover State Fair Grant for his project, "Non-Invasive Biomonitoring of Multi-class Exposures to Carcinogens in Hair using Liquid Chromatography/High Resolution Accurate Mass Spectrometry." 

Dr. Gurvich featured in STAT story

Vadim Gurvich was featured in the STAT story, "NIH program strives to turn more lab discoveries into real-world treatments." 

Follow link: https://www.statnews.com/2017/04/17/nih-reach-biomedicine-treatments/

Dr. Todd Doran joins the Department of Medicinal Chemistry Faculty

Dr. Todd Doran will join the Department of Medicinal Chemistry on July 3, 2017 as an Assistant Professor. He joins us from the Department of Chemistry at The Scripps Research Institute in Florida.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Dr. Georg selected as a STEM Research Exemplar

Dr. Georg was selected as a STEM Research Exemplar.  The Research Exemplar Project aims to identify the practices that exemplars use to lead and manage their research labs with professionalism and integrity.  Read more

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Dr. Phil Portoghese featured in Article

Dr. Phil Portoghese is mentioned in the Twin Cities Business story, "Could A Vaccine End The Opioid Epidemic?" 

Go to http://tcbmag.com/News/Recent-News/2017/March/Could-A-Vaccine-End-The-Opioid-Epidemic to read the article.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Dr. Gunda Georg featured in Article

Gunda Georg and ITDD are featured in the Inquiry story, "Bringing new drug therapies to life." 

Friday, February 17, 2017

Dr. Daniel Harki Featured in News Article

Dr. Daniel Harki was recently featured in a Twin Cities Business news article for his research on anticancer drug effectiveness advances.

Read the full story here: http://tcbmag.com/News/Recent-News/2017/February/Mayo-U-Of-M-Research-On-Assessing-Anticancer-Drug

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Dr. Peter Dosa Receives NIH Award

Dr. Peter Dosa has received a $190,625 NIH award for his project, "A pharmacological screen for inactivating antagonists."

Friday, February 3, 2017

Dr. Daniel Harki's Research Featured in News Article

Dr. Daniel Harki is a co-founder of a start up company (ApoGen Biotechnologies) which was recently featured in a Minnesota Daily article. Read more below:

UMN startup receives $7 million to create drug for cancer treatment. Minnesota Daily

Medicinal Chemistry Alum, Dr. Kathryn Nelson, Quoted in News Article

Dr. Kathryn Nelson was recently quoted in a Huffington Post News article titled "Turmeric May Not Be a Wonder Spice After All."

Read the full article here

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

University of Minnesota Joins National Partnership Aimed at Expanding Biopharmaceutical Workforce and Industry

U Joins National Partnership Aimed at Expanding Biopharmaceutical Workforce and Industry

The University of Minnesota will join a team of academic institutions, private companies, governmental entities and non-profit organizations across the U.S. as a partner for the newly established National Institute for Innovation in Manufacturing Biopharmaceuticals (NIIMBL). NIIMBL, a public-private partnership supported by a $70M investment from the National Institute of Standards and Technology and at least $129M from other participants, aims to transform biopharmaceutical manufacturing in the U.S.

NIIMBL was announced by Secretary Pritzker in December 2016.

"This partnership will open doors to creating and supporting local biotechnology-related businesses," says Vadim J. Gurvich, Ph.D., M.B.A., Associate Director of the Institute for Therapeutics Discovery and Development within the College of Pharmacy.

Gurvich and six other researchers from the College of Science and Engineering, College of Pharmacy, College of Biological Sciences and Medical School will provide leadership for the University's participation within the partnership.

"This could also open doors to new research collaborations for University of Minnesota faculty," Gurvich said. "Working with local companies, we can make a lasting impact right here in our state, to improve health and find new treatments for diseases like cancer and diabetes."

Read More Here: Health Talk

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Dr. Michael Walters is co-PI on University of Minnesota & Mayo Partnership Project

Dr. Michael Walters is co-PI on a $735,990 UMN/Mayo Partnership award for the project, "Precision Medicine Of Aromatase Inhibitors In Post-Menopausal Women With ER+ Breast Cancer." His Mayo collaborator is Dr. Liewei Wang.

Dr. Daniel Harki Mentioned in News Story

Dr. Daniel Harki is mentioned in the Business Wire story, "Accelerator Corporation Announces $7M Series A Investment in ApoGen Biotechnologies to Develop a New Class of Drugs Targeting Resistance to Cancer Therapy." 

Welcome Rita Stodolka

Welcome to Rita Stodolka! Rita has joined the Medicinal Chemistry department as the new NIPTE Executive Office and Administrative Specialist.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Dr. Gunda Georg & Dr. Michael Walters Discuss Research in News Articles

Michael Walters, Ph.D., and Gunda Georg, Ph.D., quoted in multiple news articles, discuss turmeric: 

"Turmeric May Not Be a Miracle Spice After All" - Time
"Turmeric May Be Tasty, But It's Not a Cure-All" -  Smithsonian
"Deceptive curcumin offers cautionary tale for chemists" - Nature
"Turmeric May Not Be a Miracle Spice After All" - Health
"Forget what you've heard" Turmeric seems to have zero medicinal properties" - Quartz
"Turmeric Might Not Have Magical Therapeutic Powers After All" - New York Magazine
"The truth about Turmeric, the so-called wonder spice" -CJOB-AM
"Everybody Needs To Stop With This Turmeric Molecule" - Forbes
"Bummer: Turmeric Isn't The Cure-All We All Thought It Was" -Refinery 29

Read the full research article here: http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/acs.jmedchem.6b00975

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Dr. Carston Wagner Receives NIH Funding

Dr. Carston Wagner is co-investigator on a $1,373,634 NIH award for the project, "Enzymatic Protein Labeling."

Dr. Vadim Gurvich Quoted in News Article

Vadim Gurvich is quoted in the Busines Wire story, "NIPTE is Partner in Newly Announced National Biopharmaceutical Manufacturing Institute."