THE BAYLOR UNDERGRADUATE MINIPHARMA PROGRAM

A semi-autonomous, collaborative undergraduate research program focused on molecular modeling, synthesis, and cellular assays toward the identification of novel drug-leads located in the Baylor Sciences Building (Dept. of Chemistry & Biochemistry, Baylor University).

Come join Baylor Undergraduate MiniPharma!

(MiniPharma= ‘MiniPharmaceutical Company’)

Participating undergraduates will get a ‘taste’ of the pharmaceutical industry with respect to development of small molecule inhibitors as potential chemotherapeutics with a focus on early stage drug lead development for cancer treatment. Initiated in 2011 at Texas A&M by Prof. Romo, TAMU MiniPharmers were engaged with synthesis, biological screening and in silico docking experiments with dual inhibitors of two current enzyme targets for cancer, fatty acid synthase and the proteasome.1 Currently, Baylor MiniPharmers are developing novel derivatives of the marine natural product gracilin A, a cyclophilin inhibitor, with the goal of designing and synthesizing structural variants with improved specificity and potency. Thus, this Project will enable students to gain team-work and leadership skills in addition to experience with synthetic organic chemistry, biological assays, and inhibitor docking in an iterative, collaborative process.  Team members will choose from one of the following areas: (1) synthesize novel gracilin A derivatives in the Romo lab (2) assay these derivatives as inhibitors in the Taube Lab (3) molecular modeling and in silico docking with Dr. Hull. MiniPharmers will be engaged primarily in one area of research in a given semester but will interact with all research groups and have the ability to experience another group in a subsequent semester.

 

The overall goal of the BU Undergraduate MiniPharma, as a somewhat autonomous research team, is to gain teamwork and leadership experience, get a sense of what happens in the pharmaceutical industry while learning new research skills. The MiniPharma Team has regular meetings to analyze and discuss results, plan future work, and develop presentation skills. The MiniPharma Team currently consists of a Team Leader, three Group Leaders, several returning MiniPharmers and new members, and two Team Managers (currently a graduate student and a post-doctoral associate), along with three Faculty advisors.

(We are seeking interested students for all research groups. To apply, send an application (Download Application) to Dr. Romo at ‘Daniel_Romo@baylor.edu’ that includes your resume, unofficial transcript, and completed application form found on the website. Interviews will occur toward the end of each semester.)


Publications Relevant to Current Project:

  1. “Functional mimicry revealed by the crystal structure of an eIF4A:RNA complex bound to the interfacial inhibitor, desmethyl pateamine A” Sai Kiran Naineni, Jason Liang, Kenneth Hull, Regina Cencic, Mingzhao Zhu, Peter Northcote, Paul Teesdale-Spittle, Daniel Romo, Bhushan Nagar and Jerry Pelletier Cell Chem. Bio. 2021, 28, 1-10. link
  2. “Creating novel translation inhibitors to target pro-survival proteins in chronic lymphocytic leukemia” Rong Chen, Mingzhao Zhu, Rajan R. Chaudhari, Omar Robles, Yuling Chen, Wesley Skillern, Qun Qin, William Wierda, Shuxing Zhang, Kenneth G. Hull, Daniel Romo, William Plunkett Leukemia 2019, 33, 1663–1674. link
  3. “Second-generation derivatives of the eukaryotic translation initiation inhibitor pateamine A targeting eIF4A as potential anticancer agents” Woon-Kai Low, Jing Li, Mingzhao Zhu, Sai Shilpa Kommaraju, Janki Shah-Mittal, Ken Hull, Jun O. Liu, Daniel Romo Bioorg. Med. Chem. 2014, 22, 116-125. link

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