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Discovering Magic Bullets for Biomedical Research


for Members

Discovering Magic Bullets for Biomedical Research

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The New York Academy of Sciences

Presented By


Small molecules can provide novel insights into biological processes. This meeting will focus on the challenge of how to develop powerful molecular tools for immunology and cancer research. To this end, the speakers pose three different approaches; namely, rational molecular design, natural products, and chemical libraries.


Chemical Rescue of Mutant Nuclear Receptors
John Koh, University of Delaware

Uncovering Hidden Potential of Natural Products
Akira Kawamura, CUNY-Hunter College

Chemical Methods to Monitor and Manipulate the Immune System
Tom Kodadek, The Scripps Research Institute

Networking reception to follow


Akira Kawamura

CUNY - Hunter College

Akira Kawamura was born in Japan. He received his BS and MS at The University of Tokyo and his PhD at Columbia University (Koji Nakanishi), followed by a postdoctoral stint at The Scripps Research Institute (Peter Schultz). He is currently an associate professor of Chemistry at Hunter College of CUNY. His research interest is bioorganic and natural products chemistry.

Thomas J. Kodadek

The Scripps Research Institute

Thomas Kodadek received his BS in Chemistry for the University of Miami in 1981, a PhD in Organic Chemistry from Stanford University in 1985 under the direction of James Collman and John Brauman and performed post-doctoral studies in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in the laboratory of Bruce Alberts at UCSF from 1985-7. He was on the faculty of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of Texas at Austin from 1987-1997. Dr. Kodadek moved to the UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas and was Professor of Internal Medicine and Molecular Biology from 1998-2009 and Director of the Division of Translational Research from 2006-2009. In June of 2009 he moved to his present position as Professor of Chemistry & Cancer Biology at the Scripps Research Institute, Scripps Florida. His laboratory is interested in a variety of biological problems with direct implications in human health. These projects employ a wide range of techniques form molecular genetics to organic synthesis. In 2006, Dr. Kodadek was awarded an NIH Director’s Pioneer Award to support the studies that will be discussed.

John T. Koh

University of Delaware

Dr. Koh received his PhD with Ronald Breslow at Columbia University studying biomimetic organic catalysts of pyridoxal enzyme mimics. He was an American Cancer Society post-doctoral fellow working in the labs of Peter Schultz developing combinatorial libraries of kinase inhibitors and studying protein stability using unnatural amino-acid mutagenesis. Dr. Koh started his independent career at the University of Delaware in 1996 where he developed a program to apply structure based-molecular design to the development of nuclear receptor ligands. The Koh lab was the first to develop mutant-selective hormone analogs for remote regulation of gene expression, the first light-activated transactivation system based on small molecules, and the first example of a small molecule designed to rescue function to a mutant receptors associated with a genetic disease. Currently the Koh group has projects involving the estrogen, androgen and thyroid hormone action. Dr. Koh is the Associate Director of the Delaware Biotechnology Institute and serves on the editorial board of Molecular Biosystems.


Chemical Rescue of Mutant Nuclear Receptors

John Koh, University of Delaware

Mutations to nuclear/steroid hormone receptors are associated with many genetic diseases such as rickets, resistance to thyroid hormone (RTH), androgen insensitivity syndrome (AIS) and certain forms of diabetes, breast and prostate cancer. A significant subset of these disease-associated mutations occur in and around the ligand binding pocket and prevent normal ligand binding and receptor function. We have shown that designed hormone analogs can restore function to these otherwise impaired receptors. Mutant-specific hormone analogs developed in this manner additionally provide useful tools to independently regulate gene function. Recent studies shown that similar design strategies can be used to evade anti-androgen resistance associated with AR mutations in prostate cancer.

Uncovering Hidden Potential of Natural Products

Akira Kawamura, CUNY-Hunter College

Billions of years of biological selection has refined the structures and biological activities of natural products. Althouth natural products have played a central role in drug discovery, we are probably aware of only a small fraction of what natural products are really capable of. In order to uncover previously overlooked potential of natural products, our group has established a biomarker-guided screening. This presentation will provide an overview of this screening and its applications to oriental herbal formulations.

Chemical Methods to Monitor and Manipulate the Immune System

Tom Kodadek, The Scripps Research Institute

This lecture will discuss a novel, combinatorial chemistry-based approach to identify antibodies and T cells that are tightly associated with particular disease states. This technology may provide a general approach to the discovery of immunobiomarkers for any disease to which the immune system reacts in a specific fashion. Also presented will be efforts to develop pharmacological agents that attack autoimmune antibodies and T cells with a high degree of specificity, raising the possibility of treating the root cause of autoimmune conditions and lymphatic cancers without the requirement for broad-based immunsuppression.

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