January 28, 2020

UWSOP welcomes Gaurav Bhardwaj to Med Chem faculty

Gaurav Bhardwaj

Gaurav Bhardwaj, Assistant Professor, Medicinal Chemistry

Join us in welcoming Gaurav Bhardwaj, PhD, to the Faculty as Assistant Professor in the Department of Medicinal Chemistry. Gaurav earned his doctoral degree in Integrative Biosciences from the Pennsylvania State University. During his graduate work at Pennsylvania State University, he developed computational methods for studying evolution of highly divergent protein families.

From there, he undertook a post doctoral fellowship with Dr. Kit Lam at University of California, Davis, and then continued his post doc work at the Department of Biochemistry. He has been focused on the computational design of hyperstable constrained peptides and macrocycles with atomic-level accuracy, which opened avenues for custom design of peptide-based drugs that are cheaper, more effective and more stable than other alternatives.

“The UW Medicinal Chemistry department is very collaborative and features a broad diversity of expertise and resources, ranging from bioanalytical chemistry to drug metabolism,” said Gaurav. “Collaborations with other faculty members and students provide me a unique opportunity to accelerate the design and screening of new peptide-based therapeutics, as well as evaluate the pharmacokinetics and metabolism of these computationally-designed drug candidates.”

His lab is building a platform for the custom design of peptide-based therapeutics on computers. They are focusing on drug targets that are considered “undruggable” or ‘difficult-to-drug” using other therapeutic modalities—some of the most challenging problems in population health. His team is especially interested in designing novel antibiotics and non-opioid based solutions to treat chronic pain.

I love that my current research lets me combine tools and techniques from many diverse disciplines like computational sciences, chemistry, and biology. Building new molecules on a computer sounds like something straight out of a science fiction book. Being able to actually do that every day makes it a lot of fun.
Gaurav Bhardwaj, Assistant Professor, Medicinal Chemistry

Gaurav’s work could lead to significant breakthroughs in the development of targeted peptide therapeutics—of interest to many pharmaceutical and biotech companies, including Genentech, which provided support for his research at the UW. In addition, the UW Institute of Protein Design (IPD)—an internationally renowned institute that aims to design and characterize proteins for a wide range of applications in medicine and material technologies—and the UW School of Pharmacy Dean contributed to the ‘start up’ funds to ensure Gaurav’s important and collaborative work would be based here at the UW.

Outside his lab work, Gaurav said he loves reading books and exploring all the state and national parks in the Pacific Northwest. He is currently reading 21 challenges for the 21st century by Yuval Noah Harari. A little known fun fact is that he was once an extra in a really bad zombie movie! But being a zombie in the lab is unlikely. When we asked the new Seattlite how he likes his coffee, he said, “I like a 16 oz Mocha, twice a day! In fact, the only piece of wall art in my new office says, “With enough coffee, anything is possible.”

Welcome to the UW School of Pharmacy, Gaurav!