Center for Drug Discovery solidifying team with faculty hires

September 9, 2015  

Less than a year after it was officially dedicated, the Center for Drug Discovery is running at nearly full strength. Dozens of researchers are creating new methods to combat cancer, diabetes and many of the world’s deadliest infectious diseases.

Drug discovery is an integral part of the Purdue Moves campaign. The goal is to accelerate the rate of drug discovery to move revelations from the lab to commercialization and then to the millions of patients who need hope and relief. Already, researchers at Purdue are at work on more than 30 new compounds in various stages of clinical development, and a number of them are approaching federal approval.

The last wave of hiring was completed in early August, which welcomed four new Purdue faculty members to the center:

Herman Sintim, professor, Department of Chemistry -- Sintim arrived from the University of Maryland, where he worked on the chemical biology of bacterial communication, virulence factors production and biofilm formation.

Gaurav Chopra, assistant professor, Department of Chemistry -- During his postdoc appointment at the University of California, San Francisco, Chopra researched systems-based approaches to immunology and immune modulation therapies. He also worked under 2013 Nobel chemistry laureate Michael Levitt in structural biology while at Stanford University.

Marxa Figueiredo, assistant professor, Department of Basic Medical Sciences -- Coming from the Sealy Center for Vaccine Development at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, Figueiredo heads a lab that researches the response of prostate and head and neck cancer cells to cell cycle arrest and apoptosis signals. The goal is to develop novel strategies with therapeutic potential for cancer.

Dan Flaherty, assistant professor, Department of Medicinal Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology – Flaherty’s work in antibiotics focuses on expanding novel anti-infective chemical space using both traditional and fragment-based drug discovery techniques coupled with structure-based analog design. He came to Purdue from the University of Kansas.

Mary Wirth, the W. Brooks Fortune Distinguished Professor of Chemistry, chaired the hiring committee for the Center for Drug Discovery.

“We are thrilled to have hired four outstanding scientists for the drug discovery center,” she says. “Drug discovery at Purdue is clearly viewed on the outside as a great opportunity.”

Provost Debasish Dutta is confident that the new faculty members will help give the Center for Drug Discovery momentum into its second year and for decades beyond.

“I am so pleased to have these new faculty members attached to the Center for Drug Discovery,” Dutta says. “Their breadth of knowledge is perfect for the crucial elements that fuel advancement and discovery of life-saving drugs. These brilliant researchers’ expertise travels across colleges at Purdue, which will enhance the speed and quality of this important initiative.”

Philip Low, director of the center and the Ralph C. Corley Distinguished Professor of Chemistry, concurred, saying, “Purdue University is already highly recognized in the field of drug discovery, and addition of these outstanding faculty will only add to Purdue’s recognition as one of the preeminent institutions in the country at finding diagnostic and therapeutic agents for our country’s most pressing health needs.”

Writer: Tim Brouk, 765-496-1682, 

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