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Welcome to Medicinal Chemistry

Medicinal Chemistry is a discipline with a traditional focus on organic synthetic chemistry with the broad goals of drug discovery and optimization. The Department of Medicinal Chemistry at the University of Washington, since its inception in 1980, has always departed somewhat from this tradition given the focus of many of its faculty on the research areas of mechanistic drug metabolism, toxicology and bioanalytical chemistry. In recent years research activities in the Department have been broadened further by the addition of several faculty members with expertise in the areas of biological mass spectrometry and biophysical virology.

Latest News

AACP Honors Med Chem PhD Brendan Stamper

Brendan.2010The American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP) recently honored Dr. Brendan Stamper and his colleagues at the 2014 AACP annual meeting. Dr. Stamper is a former Med Chem graduate student who received his Ph.D. in 2010 and is now an Assistant Professor in the School of Pharmacy at Pacific University in Hillsboro, Oregon.

Dr. Stamper directed a team of university faculty and staff to develop an innovative series of tutorials that helps first-year pharmacy students learn about pharmaceutical sciences. This portfolio of tutorials was chosen as one of three national winners of the AACP's 2014 Innovations in Teaching Competition. Dr. Stamper presented the curriculum at a special session during the AACP annual meeting in July.

Congratulations, Brendan, on this well-deserved honor!


Eric Evangelista Appointed to Clinical Research (TL1) Training Grant

EricE2014wThe Institute of Translational Health Sciences TL1 Multidisciplinary Predoctoral Clinical Research Training Grant is a year-long training experience funded by the National Institutes of Health and the National Center for Research Resources. The program allows grant recipients to work as part of an interdisciplinary team doing research that focuses on identifying major clinical problems, addressing these problems in the laboratory, and bringing bench discoveries into clinical practice. Eric Evangelista (Rheem Totah lab) has recently received funding from this predoctoral training grant.

"I'm very thankful to have received the TL1 training grant support," said Eric. "The grant will allow me to further research aimed at understanding the role that the drug-metabolizing enzyme CYP2J2 plays in proper cardiac electrophysiology.""

Congratulations, Eric, and we wish you success in your research!


Brianne Raccor to Teach at Campbell University

Brianne2014wDr. Brianne Raccor, Senior Fellow in the Rheem Totah laboratory and a Elmer M. and Joy B. Plein Fellow, has taken a position as Assistant Professor in Pharmaceutical Sciences at Campbell Univesity in Buies Creek, North Carolina. "I am delighted to be a new member of the faculty at Campbell," said Brianne. "My excellent training in the Totah lab and my time as a Plein Fellow have prepared me well for a successful career in research and teaching."

"We are excited for Brianne as she embarks on her new adventure," said Associate Professor Rheem Totah. "Her infectious passion for science, troubleshooting abilities, and collegiality will be greatly missed."

We congratulate Brianne and hope she will continue working with Med Chem on future projects in her new role.


Nath Lab Welcomes New Student

The Department of Medicinal Chemistry is pleased to announce that Hannah Baughman, a graduate student in the Biological Physics, Structure and Design program, has joined the Nath lab and the Klevit lab (UW Biochemistry) as a joint advisee. Hannah earned her B.S. in Biochemistry from Cornell University in Ithaca, NY, in 2012. Her research focuses on understanding how tau protein interacts with cellular chaperones, and how this interaction relates to the body's defenses against neurodegenerative diseases.

Welcome to Med Chem, Hannah!


Allan Rettie Steps Down as Med Chem Chair

AllanRettieWAfter 15 years as Chair of the Department of Medicinal Chemistry, Dr. Allan Rettie has stepped down as of June 2014. Dr. Rettie guided our department through many curricular and organizational changes. His dedication and ever-present sense of humor saw us through some challenging economic times, and it is to his credit that Medicinal Chemistry is thriving today. We are very grateful for Dr. Rettie's able leadership these past 15 years, and so pleased he is staying on as a faculty member in Medicinal Chemistry. Until a new Chair is appointed, Dr. Kent Kunze will serve as Interim Chair.

We wish Allan the very best in this new phase of his career. Many thanks to Kent for taking on the job of Interim Chair.



Congratulations, Med Chem Class of 2014


Nick Au, Jean Dinh, and Eri Nakatani-Webster wait for their moment on the stage during graduation exercises at Meany Hall.  (Photograph courtesy of Meg Running.)

Congratulations to the following students, who received the Doctor of Philosophy in Medicinal Chemistry during commencement exercises held at Meany Hall on June 13, 2014:

Nicholas Au
Pharm.D. 2009, University of Washington
Dissertation: "Genetic and Environmental Factors Affecting Hemostasis in the Yup'ik."

Jean C. Dinh
B.S. 2005, Pharm.D. 2009, University of Washington
Dissertation: "In Vitro and In Vivo Studies of Methadone Metabolism and Pharmacokinetics."

Eri Nakatani-Webster
B.S. 2008, University of Arizona
Dissertation: "Controlled Assembly of Viral Surface Proteins into Biological Nanoparticles."

Congratulations to this year's graduates, and very best wishes as you go forth and Med Chem!


Med Chem Alumnus Appointed Dean at Campbell University

MikeThe Department of Medicinal Chemistry is proud to congratulate alumnus Michael Adams, Ph.D. for his recent appointment as Dean of the College of Pharmacy & Health Sciences at Campbell University in Buies Creek, North Carolina. Michael did his graduate work in Medicinal Chemistry with the late Sid Nelson and graduated in 2003. His research interests focus on causes and mechanisms for prevention of drug-induced liver disease, with particular attention to xenobiotics that cause liver damage after metabolism.

We are happy to see Michael's continued success and wish him well in his new role.


Ryan Seguin is Magnuson Scholar 2014-2015

RyanMedicinal Chemistry graduate student Ryan Seguin (Kent Kunze lab) has been awarded the prestigious Magnuson Scholarship for 2014-2015. The University names six Magnuson Scholars annually, one from each of the health sciences schools. Awardees are selected based on their academic performance and potential contributions to health sciences research.

Ryan joined Dr. Kent Kunze's lab in 2011 and was selected as a trainee on the NIH-sponsored Pharmacological Sciences Training Grant. Dr. Kunze noted, "Ryan has the motivation, work ethic, and creativity to become a successful independent academic scientist." As a Magnuson Scholar, Ryan will focus on research that he hopes will lead to the discovery of novel therapeutics or unveil the basis for enigmatic health disorders with few or no treatment options currently available. "The main driving force," said Ryan, "is always to improve health and quality of life for others, either directly through development of treatment options, or indirectly by enhancing our understanding of drug targets, design, and metabolism." In addition, Ryan continues teaching, mentoring, and spreading knowledge and enthusiasm for science.

"It is such an honor to be selected for this award," said Ryan, "and I am excited for the opportunity to further my research and career. I am grateful to the Department of Medicinal Chemistry for the continuous support, and to my advisor, Kent Kunze, for his relentless enthusiasm and encouragement."

Congratulations to Ryan on this well-deserved award!


Klarissa Hardy Receives AACP Award

KlarissaFormer Medicinal Chemistry postdoctoral fellow Klarissa Hardy has received a 2014 New Investigator Award from the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP). Klarissa, now an Assistant Professor at Lipscomb University College of Pharmacy in Nashville, TN, was one of 17 award recipients for 2014. The New Investigator program provides start-up funding for new pharmacy faculty's research programs. The awards are given to individual faculty starting their academic careers at ACPE-accrediated colleges or universities in the U.S.   Klarissa will receive $10,000 for her research project "Molecular Mechanisms of Drug-Induced Liver Injury by Tyrosine Kinase Inhibitors" as well as a travel award so she may present her findings at the AACP annual meeting in 2015.

"I am very pleased for Klarissa to have achieved this success so early in her faculty career," said Dr. Allan Rettie, Chair of Medicinal Chemistry. "It is very well deserved."

Klarissa was part of the late Dr. Sid Nelson's lab at Med Chem, where she studied the targeted breast cancer drug, lapatinib, to examine the role of cytochrome P450-mediated metabolic activation in the liver toxicity associated with lapatinib. "My current work continues along these lines," she said, "and is focused on two additional anti-cancer tyrosine kinase inhibitors -- pazopanib and sunitinib -- which have both been associated with hepatotoxicity." The goal is to characterize the metabolism and bioactivation pathways of pazopanib and sunitinib to provide insight into the biochemical mechanisms of hepatotoxicity.

"I am excited and thankful to God for the opportunity to receive this award," added Klarissa, "and I see it as an encouraging start to my career. I also thank my excellent mentors, Sid Nelson and Allan Rettie, who supported my postdoctoral training at UW to make this possible."

Congratulations to Dr. Klarissa Hardy on this well-deserved award!


Med Chem Welcomes New Faculty Member

Abhi NathThe Department of Medicinal Chemistry welcomes Abhinav "Abhi" Nath, PhD, as its newest faculty member. Dr. Nath joins the department as an Assistant Professor, coming from Yale University where he did postdoctoral work in Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry.

"We are very pleased to welcome Dr. Nath to Med Chem," said Allan Rettie, PhD, professor and Chair of the department. "With a research career that spans biology, chemistry, and physics, Dr. Nath brings a diverse skillset to our department that will benefit our faculty and students. We are confident that Dr. Nath possesses the knowedge and skills necessary to further advance the work of Medicinal Chemistry at the School of Pharmacy. We are fortunate to have him as a member of our faculty."

Dr. Nath received his Bachelor of Arts in Biology and Chemistry from the University of Virginia. He completed his doctorate in Medicinal Chemistry at the University of Washington, where his research focused on the mechanisms of substrate binding by Cytochrome P450s and other drug-metabolizing enzymes. He went on to Yale University, where he was an American Heart Association Postdoctoral Fellow studying intrinsically disordered and amyloid-forming proteins using single-molecule fluorescence and computational methods.

Abhi Nath's lab in the department of Medicinal Chemistry will focus on understanding the roles of protein dynamics in neurodegenerative disease, drug metabolism, and the body's response to oxidative stress. "We are interested in developing new ways to study highly dynamic proteins, and to control their behavior in therapeutically useful ways," said Dr. Nath. "To this end, we will use a broad range of experimental and theoretical approaches from biochemistry, biophysics, and pharmacology." Systems of interest will include the Glutathione-S-Transferase enzyme superfamily (involved in drug metabolism and the oxidative stress response) and the intrinsically disordered protein Tau (implicated in Alzheimer's disease and pathology resulting from traumatic brain injury).

"I'm thrilled to be back in Seattle and at the UW," said Dr. Nath. "Medicinal Chemistry's tight-knit and welcoming community and its tradition of excellence in research make it an outstanding environment for me to establish my lab and independent scientific program. I am eager to contribute to the department's research and training missions, and to work closely with the exceptional staff, students, and faculty of the School of Pharmacy and the broader UW community, as I do so."

Click here to view Dr. Nath's faculty web page.


Nick Au on Winning Team for Business Plan Contest

Nick AuMed Chem student Nick Au (Allan Rettie lab) was recently part of a team of UW graduate students who won a "Best Innovation Idea" prize in the 16th annual UW Business Plan Competition. The team is developing a "smart" polymer contact lens as an alternative delivery platform for people with diabetes.

The UW Business Plan Competition is produced by the Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship at the Foster School of Business. They awarded $68,220 in seed funding to winners of the 2013 competition.

Nick, congratulations on your win!




Read more: Latest News


Contact Us

Department of Medicinal Chemistry
University of Washington
HSB H-172, Box 357610
Seattle, Washington 98195
Phone: (206) 543-2224
Fax: (206) 685-3252

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What Research Opportunities Exist? The faculty in Medicinal Chemistry offer diverse opportunities for study and research at the interface between chemistry and biology with emphasis on issues of biomedical importance. These include the role of phase I and II biotransformation processes in toxification and detoxification reactions, the metabolic consequences of phenotypic and genotypic diversity in the population, drug metabolism and enzyme kinetics, drug/drug and drug/herbal interactions, protein engineering, mechanisms of pathogen resistance, molecular modeling of peptides and proteins and vaccine development - to name but a few. In addition to specialized training acquired during their medicinal chemistry thesis work, graduates acquire a broad foundation in biochemistry, pharmacology and molecular biology which is important in the rapidly evolving, multidisciplinary biomedical arena.
Our Mission The goal of graduate program training in Medicinal Chemistry is to prepare highly trained, versatile individuals for a career in the pharmaceutical sciences; we are proud of our record of outstanding graduate students who now enjoy fruitful careers in academia, the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries as well as with government and other regulatory agencies. If you are interested further in our Doctoral Program, please surf around our newly-designed web site and feel free to contact us directly if you require any additional information.
What is Medicinal Chemistry? Medicinal Chemistry is a discipline with a traditional focus on organic synthetic chemistry with the broad goals of drug discovery and optimization. The Department of Medicinal Chemistry at the University of Washington, since its inception in 1980, has always departed somewhat from this tradition given the focus of many of its faculty on the research areas of mechanistic drug metabolism, toxicology and bioanalytical chemistry. In recent years research activities in the Department have been broadened further by the addition of several faculty members with expertise in the areas of biological mass spectrometry and biophysical virology.