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Biomedical Research


The functionality of nearly any biomedical system can be traced down to an intricate and complex system of interacting molecules, operating under chemical and physical principles, that ultimately drives biological phenomena, from the microscale to the macroscale. And this is the approach that we take as we seek to develop solutions to relevant issues in modern medicine that have not yet been fully resolved - protein folding disorders, mechanisms of cell signaling, pathogen antibiotic resistance, enzymatic catalysis, just to name a few. Our research collaborations are driven by these pressing questions in molecular and cell biology, and are tackled from both computational and empirical grounds. We see tremendous potential in the parallel usage of tools from biochemistry/structural biology, computational modeling, and organic chemistry in developing new knowledge of the molecular systems that drive human health. We seek aspiring biomedical researchers who are unafraid to tackle intellectually challenging problems with enthusiasm, curiosity, and creativity to push forwards the limits of molecular medicine. We hope you will join us this summer in #ASDRP2020.

Amyloid Inhibitors of Aβ-42 Towards Developing Therapeutic Strategies for Alzheimer's Disease

Aggregation of the peptide Aβ-42 has been linked to progression of Alzheimer's disease. We are interested in natural product screening and nature-inspired synthetic compounds that inhibit aggregation of amyloid fibrils. Further, we employ various computational methods to understand the biophysical parameters behind amyloid formation. 

Structure-Activity Relationships in Small Molecule Antibiotic Compound Development

Sulfa antibiotics have been previously shown to be competitive inhibitors of dihydropteroate synthase (DHPS), which is integral in the biosynthetic pathway of folic acid in many prokaryotes. Here, we investigate structure-activity relationships in a synthetic library of novel small molecules in antimicrobial activity. 

Molecular Oncology: Pharmacophores in Tubulin-Binding Antiproliferative Agents

Several natural product  have been shown to attenuate the growth of tumor cells by blocking mechanisms of the mitotic spindle in rapidly dividing cells. Here, we incorporate natural product screening and de novo molecular design to engineer the next generation of potentially antiproliferative agents towards anti-cancer drugs. 

Total Synthesis of Etoposide and Anti-Tumor Activity of Etoposide Analogs

Etoposide is a clinically used drug that treats a variety of cancer types by inhibiting the action of topoisomerase during DNA replication. Here, we describe a synthetic route towards etoposide, and the design and development of etoposide analogs as potential anti-cancer pharmaceuticals.  

Development of a Machine Learning Platform towards Antiviral Therapy Discovery

This project is jointly handled by computer science and biochemistry research students. We are working on a machine learning platform for rapid screening of small molecule non-nucleoside antiretroviral inhibitors of the reverse transcriptase enzyme of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). 

Biologics Design, Discovery, and Development towards potential COVID-19 therapies

A collaboration of research advisors are collectively using virtual screening means and molecular biology tools to identify and develop biologics such as siRNA therapies as well as antiretroviral drug repurposing in efforts of accelerating preclinical drug discovery against SARS-CoV2 (novel coronavirus, 2019). Since ASDRP operates at a Biosafety Level 1, no live/actual coronavirus specimens will be handled. 

What We Do

Biomedical research is interdisciplinary - we are huge fans of combining the best techniques and approaches across the life sciences towards understanding some of the most pressing issues in molecular medicine today. 

Leadership & Investigators

The Biomedical Research Cluster is composed of several research faculty members from all three departments (Biology, Chemistry, CS/Engineering) who are involved in cross-disciplinary work that has potential application and impact in the biomedical field. 
Ankur Gupta
Director of Biomedical Research
Dept. of Biological, Human, & Life Sciences
Molecular & Cell Biology 
Carly Truong
Dept. of Biological, Human, & Life Sciences
Molecular & Cell Biology 
Edward Njoo
Dept. of Chemistry, Biochemistry, Physics
Organic & Medicinal Chemistry 
Harman Brah
Dept. of Chemistry, Biochemistry, Physics
Computational biochemistry 
Soumya Suresh
Dept. of Biological, Human, & Life Sciences
Genetics & Molecular Biology 
Peter Le
Dept. of Biological, Human, & Life Sciences
Cell Biology, Microbiology 
Nardeen Mikhail
Dept. of Biological, Human, & Life Sciences
Genetics, Microbiology 
Gayathri Renganathan
Dept. of Chemistry, Biochemistry, Physics
Medicinal Biochemistry