Akua Donkor Wins RCSB Protein Data Bank Poster Prize

Akua Donkor Wins RCSB Protein Data Bank Poster Prize

July 22, 2022

Akua Donkor won the RCSB protein data bank poster prize at the American Crystallographic Association (ACA) meeting held July 29-Aug. 2, 2022. Donkor is a Medicinal Chemistry graduate student; Martin Safo, Ph.D., is her adviser. The ACA recognizes a graduate or undergraduate student with the best poster pertaining to macromolecular crystallography.

Aaron May receives Wright Center award

Aaron May receives Wright Center award

July 22, 2022

Our own Aaron May, Ph.D., has been awarded a grant from VCU’s Kenneth & Dianne Wright Center for Clinical and Translational Research titled “Mechanistic and Functional Evaluation of Novel Fungicidals: First-in-Class Hsp110 Inhibitors.” May serves as the co-PI. The two-year grant started July 15, 2022, and covers a cost of $130,000. Congratulations!

Innovation Gateway supports projects through Commercialization Fund

Innovation Gateway supports projects through Commercialization Fund

July 22, 2022

Guizhi Zhu, Ph.D., an assistant professor with the Department of Pharmaceutics in the School of Pharmacy, won continued support for a technology that uses short single strands of synthetic DNA or RNA (oligonucleotide) immunotherapy for cancer and other infectious diseases.

Youzhong Guo, Ph.D., an assistant professor at the Department of Medicinal Chemistry in the School of Pharmacy, for a technology of a series of native cell membrane nanoparticle polymers that can be used for extraction of membrane proteins without the use of detergents. Currently, membrane protein research and related drug discovery rely heavily on detergents, which destabilize membrane proteins, leading to problems in the membrane protein structural biology.

Yan Zhang Receives VCU Breakthroughs Award

Yan Zhang Receives VCU Breakthroughs Award

June 23, 2022

Yan Zhang, Ph.D., was awarded the VCU Breakthroughs Award for his project “Novel MOR antagonists to treat fentanyl overdose.” The project began July 1, 2022, and ends Dec. 31, 2023, and provides $200,000 to carry out the breakthrough work. Congratulations, Dr. Zhang.

Connor O’Hara to Participate in St. Jude Future Fellow Research Conference

Connor O’Hara to Participate in St. Jude Future Fellow Research Conference

June 6, 2022

We are excited to announce that our very own, Connor O’Hara, has been chosen by St. Jude National Graduate Student Symposium to participate in St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital’s 2022 Future Fellowship Research Conference (FRCC). Connor is one of the 30 out of 2400 applicants selected to participate. Congratulations Connor!

Students Recognized for Professionalism

Students Recognized for Professionalism

April 29, 2022

The School of Pharmacy celebrated students in the Pharm.D., and graduate programs with the 2022 Excellence in Professionalism Award. Our very own Tamim Chiba was the winner for the graduate students. The nominees were evaluated by a team of faculty and students. The Professionalism Committee is chaired by Ericka Crouse. Congratulations Tamim! We are proud of you.

Pharmacy Alum Excels as Biomedical Researcher and Dedicated Mentor

Pharmacy Alum Excels as Biomedical Researcher and Dedicated Mentor

April 8, 2022

May Abdelaziz, Ph.D. (Ph.D. '13/P is Assistant Professor and founding faculty at the Maytee Fisch College of Pharmacy, University of Texas at Tyler. Dr. Abdelaziz "strives to make her pharmacy students advocates for their patients, which requires respect for different backgrounds, attitudes and perspectives." She worked alongside her mentor Dr. Umesh Desai at the Institute for Structural Biology Discovery and Development. For more information about Dr. Abdelaziz's work and accomplishments click the link below.
https://alumnimag.vcu.edu/fall-winter-2021/10-under-10/#mayAbdelaziz

Sickle Cell Researcher Accelerates Drug Discovery with Atomwise Virtual Screening

Sickle Cell Researcher Accelerates Drug Discovery with Atomwise Virtual Screening

November 29, 2021

Safo’s team challenged Atomwise’s technology to identify activators and inhibitors for potential targets for sickle cell disease. One target, erythrocyte pyruvate kinase, is part of the glycolysis cycle and is associated with a metabolite that has an allosteric effect on hemoglobin, amplifying symptoms for sickle cell patients. Activating pyruvate kinase could indirectly reduce the metabolite levels and minimize disease impact. On the other hand, inhibiting this target has been shown to impair the survival of cancer cells. Click for entire blog. https://blog.atomwise.com/sickle-cell-researcher-accelerates-drug-discovery-with-atomwise-virtual-screening.

Professor, Martin Safo Appointed Interim Director of the Institute for Structural Biology, Drug Discovery and Development

Professor, Martin Safo Appointed Interim Director of the Institute for Structural Biology, Drug Discovery and Development

September 7, 2021

Joseph DiPiro, Ph.D., Dean of the School of Pharmacy at Virginia Commonwealth University, has announced that Professor Martin Safo will serve as interim director of the Institute for Structural Biology, Drug Discovery and Development, effective September 1, 2021.

Professor Safo, since 2018 has served as the Director of Virginia Commonwealth University’s Structural Biology Core. He is also professor in the Department of Medicinal Chemistry. His areas of expertise include Structural Biology, Hemoglobin Structure and Function, Sickle Cell Disease Drug Development, Vitamin B6 Metabolism and Regulation.

Professor Safo follows Umesh Desai, Ph.D., as director of the Institute who was instrumental in bringing the Institute to the next level. Dr. Desai continues to serve as the Chair of Medicinal Chemistry.

Dr. Yana Cen Win 2021 Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award

Dr. Yana Cen Win 2021 Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award

June 11, 2021

Dr. Yana Cen has been awarded the 2021 Ralph E Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award from the Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU). This award comes with a financial award and an equivalent match from the winner's local institution. Congratulations to her on this prestigious honor. Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU)'s original purpose is to advance science and technology education and research by providing access to the atomic energy research facilities of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) to faculty and students of universities across the South. Congratulations again Dr. Cen.

Dr. Keith Ellis has received a subcontract from KeViRx

Dr. Keith Ellis has received a subcontract from KeViRx

March 23, 2021

Dr. Keith Ellis has received a subcontract from KeViRx, Charlottesville, which has succeeded with an SBIR grant. The PI of SBIR grant is Prof. John Lazo of University of Virginia. The title of his grant is Developing Small Molecule Inhibitors of Protein Tyrosine Phosphatases as Cancer Therapeutics. Congratulations, Dr. Ellis.

Professor Darrell Peterson is now Emeritus Professor

Professor Darrell Peterson is now Emeritus Professor

September 1, 2020

Professor Darrell Peterson of Biochemistry has retired.  Thus, he is now a professor emeritus.  We appreciate all that he contributed to the growth and development of the Institute. His presence here will surely be missed.  May he enjoy his retirement fully.

Dr. Yan Zhang Receives Supplement

Dr. Yan Zhang Receives Supplement

August 25, 2020

Congratulations to Dr. Yan Zhang who has been awarded a supplement titled ' Novel fentanyl derivatives as counteracting agents against fentanyl'. Thisfurthers his current UG3 grant ' Mu Opioid Receptor Modulator Development to Treat Opioid Use Disorder' from NIDA. UG3 mechanism is an early phase exploratory cooperative agreement to assess clinical promise of novel agents.

Dr. Shijun Zhang Receives Two Year Grant

Dr. Shijun Zhang Receives Two Year Grant

August 25, 2020

Dr. Shijun Zhang is the recipient of a supplement to his current R01 grant titled 'Development of NLRP3 inflammasome inhibitors towards Alzheimer's disease'. Congratulations Dr. Zhang.

Dr. Martin Safo Receives Research Grant

Dr. Martin Safo Receives Research Grant

August 25, 2020

Dr. Martin Safo has received an one-year research grant award titled 'Examining the Interaction Between Plant Phenols and Agrobacterium Receptor VirA Using X-ray Crystallography and Fluorescence Spectroscopy'. This grant was originally sponsored by the Jeffress Foundation. Congratulations Dr. Safo for receiving one more award!

Dr. Glen Kellogg Receives VCU Commercialization Fund Grant

Dr. Glen Kellogg Receives VCU Commercialization Fund Grant

July 7, 2020

We are pleased to announce that Dr. Glen Kellogg has received a VCU Commercialization Fund Grant. He is co-PI of this grant. Dr. Kellogg's grant title is “Development of Novel Chemical Inhibitors for Sterol Carrier Protein-2 for Correcting Dyslipidemia and Fatty Liver Disease”. Congratulations Dr. Kellogg.

Dr. Yana Cen Receives Award for Interdisciplinary Research

Dr. Yana Cen Receives Award for Interdisciplinary Research

June 21, 2020

Dr. Yana Cen is selected for this year's Jeffress Trust Award for Interdisciplinary Research. The title of her grant application was "Determining Enzyme Transition State Using Kinetic Isotope Effects and Computational Analysis." 

Dr. Srinivas Sistla Receives Outstanding Scientist Award

Dr. Srinivas Sistla Receives Outstanding Scientist Award

January 31, 2020

Srinivas Sistla, Ph.D., is the recipient of the Outstanding Scientist Award from the Association of Biomolecular Research Facilities. He presented his work at the association's annual meeting in Palm Springs, California. Congratulations, Dr. Sistla.

Dr. Jiong Li is Awarded the Elsa U. Pardee Foundation Grant.

Dr. Jiong Li is Awarded the Elsa U. Pardee Foundation Grant.

December 17, 2019

Congratulations to Dr. Li who has been awarded the Elsa U. Pardee Foundation Grant for his research titled, "Targeting miR-204-5p suppresses the tumorigenesis and metastasis of head and neck cancer". We are excited for him and how this will positively impact lives.

Dr. Yana Cen Receives Grant from the National Science Foundation (Chemistry of Life Processes)

Dr. Yana Cen Receives Grant from the National Science Foundation (Chemistry of Life Processes)

September 27, 2019

The grant title is CAREER:  Allosteric Activating of SIRT6 by DNA and the project period is 09/01/2019 - 08/31/2024. This study seeks to elucidate how the regulation of SIRT6 activity takes place in cells and to suggest possible strategies for effective SIRT6 activation. The concurrent aim is to provide a broadly accessible research experience for a large number of students across multiple academic levels. The comprehensive plan includes the mentoring of undergraduates, graduates and PharmD students as well as an outreach program offered to high school AP biology students. A PI-graduate student working group is to be established to develop and implement new guidelines for training in the interdisciplinary field of chemical biology. 

Dr. Srinivas Sistla earns staff spotlight

Dr. Srinivas Sistla earns staff spotlight

September 23, 2019

Dr. Srinivas Sistla earns staff spotlight