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Nath Faculty Innovation Award leads to student publications

Abhi Nath, '08, and Medicinal Chemistry graduate student Eleanor Vane discuss research
Abhi Nath, ’08, and Medicinal Chemistry graduate student Eleanor Vane discuss their current research Photo: Alex Levine

In 2018, Abhi Nath, ’08, was named recipient one of that year’s UWSOP Faculty Innovation Awards. The awards provide financial support of up to $20,000 each for high-risk, innovative research projects.

Abhi proposed to look at new ways to predict how the body metabolizes biologics, also known as “large-molecule” drugs or protein-based therapeutics. These drugs display immense potential in the treatment of many challenging forms of cancer, autoimmune disorders, and infectious and degenerative diseases. However, a major hurdle to their development is a lack of understanding of the factors that govern their pharmacokinetics and disposition.

“We don’t yet recognize the ‘flags’ that indicate that a given large molecule may behave problematically or unpredictably, as we do for conventional small molecule drugs.” —Abhi Nath, Assistant Professor of Medicinal Chemistry

This knowledge gap makes the development of biologics challenging, increasing the time and costs to bring these promising medications to market. By using a combination of biophysical measurements and machine learning analyses, the team anticipated they would shed new light on the disposition of protein-based therapeutics, and give trainees hands-on experience in modern data science techniques.

Dennis Goulet

Thus far, the UWSOP Faculty Innovation Award has led to one publication by Medicinal Chemistry PhD graduate student Dennis Goulet, former Magnuson Scholar and first recipient of the Scott Grimm Fellowship. Dennis is first author on, “Toward a Combinatorial Approach for the Prediction of IgG Half-Life and Clearance” in ASPET’s Drug Metabolism and Disposition. The paper’s co-authors include Michael J. Watson, William M. Atkins, and Abhinav Nath, all from the UWSOP Department of Medicinal Chemistry, as well as colleagues from Janssen Research & Development.

In addition, Medicinal Chemistry PhD graduate student Hayli Larsen will present work enabled by the award at the Protein Society Annual Meeting in Seattle this summer.

Past recipients of the Faculty Innovation Award include:

  • Pharmacy’s Brian Werth and grant coinvestigator UWSOP Medicinal Chemistry’s Libin Xu who continue their novel research into antibiotic resistance mechanisms in the superbug, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) with the support of a recent 4-year, $1.86 million NIH R01 grant.
  • An interdisciplinary team led by CHOICE Associate Professor Beth Devine, with Pharmaceutics’ Isabelle Ragueneau-Majlessi, ’10, and Pharmacy’s Jennifer Wilson-Norton, ’93, earned the award for their proposal, “Evaluating the Impact of Pharmacogenetic Testing on Clinical Outcomes in Retirement Communities: A Proof-of-Concept Feasibility Study.” UWSOP’s Jennifer Bacci, and Basia Belza, from the UW School of Nursing, will serve as advisors.
  • Professor Allan Rettie is leading a team that includes Co-Investigators Pharmaceutics Assistant Professor Bhagwat Prasad and Shreeram Akilesh of Pathology to find new personalized ways to slow the progression of the development of breast cancer by focusing in on an enzyme that can go rogue. The team hopes to identify inhibitors of a gene, CYP4Z1, which codes for a cytochrome P450 enzyme that is strongly associated with progression of the disease, a breakthrough that could lead to improved therapies that are personalized for a patient’s particular type of breast cancer.


To study with researchers like Dr. Nath and peers like Dennis Goulet and Hayli Larsen, click for more information about our Graduate Programs in Medicinal Chemistry.

Link to Medicinal Chemistry archived news