Congratulation Dr. Guo!!

Our own Dr. Youzhong Guo has been awarded an R01 grant from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences. This R01 grant effective 7/1/2019 to 6/30/2023 is to support a new technology development [Native Cell Membrane Nanoparticles System (NCMN)] for membrane protein structural biology especially for high-resolution structure determination of membrane proteins and complexes using single-particle cryo-electon microscopy. Membrane proteins perform a variety of functions vital to the survival of organisms, but it is very difficulty isolate and study with traditional detergent based methods. Many membrane proteins are important drug targets and more than 50% of modern drugs target membrane proteins. With this revolutionary NCMN system, membrane proteins can be isolated in their native state with associated cell membrane lipid bilayer intact. Successful development of the NCMN system will have profound impact on membrane protein structural biology and membrane protein related drug discovery and development. With a prototype NCMN system, Dr. Youzhong Guo and colleagues have successfully determined, for the first time, a clearest ever structure of a patch of native cell membrane lipid bilayer at atomic level. Numerous scientists has spent more than one hundred years to decipher the structure of cell membrane, but no high-resolution structure of cell membrane at this level had been obtained before. This is a breakthrough in the history of cell membrane research. This work has been published in PNAS ( ). This achievement shows the great power of the new technology. 

Monday Highlights from Experimental Biology Featuring Daniel Afosah, PhD

Exciting News

Daniel  Afosah, PhD attending the 2019 Experimental Biology Annual Meeting in the Orlando, Florida. EB TV hits the conference floor to hear what has been attendees; biggest takeaway from the 2019 Experimental Biology Annual Meeting. Please click on the link to hear Daniel’s response on the value of the meeting to him.



Shravan Morla has won the 2019 J. Doyle Smith Award for Graduate Studies in the Department of Medicinal Chemistry! The Award recognizes the best achievement in graduate studies, which includes academics, teaching, research and service. Please join me in congratulating him for this well deserved accomplishment!! He is truly a stellar graduate student and a pleasure to work with. He will now compete at the School of Pharmacy level for the Dean’s Award for Graduate Studies.

As an aside, Shravan’s Award bring three Doyle Smith Awards in a row to my lab. Daniel was the awardee in 2017; Al-Humaidi was the awardee in 2018 and now Shravan. Prior to that we have had Gunnar Gunnarsson (2002); Arjun Raghuraman (2006); Tim King (2011); Rami Al-Horani (2012); and Akul Mehta (2014) win from our lab. Just goes to show that you all are connected with some stellar people!

Congratulation Jakob and Family!

Our family at Medicinal Chemistry wishes your handsome beautiful baby boy (Mathias Tyler Green) the very best of life, happiness and success!! 


Congrats Mohammed Al Mughram! Our department wish your beautiful baby girl (Taraaf) the very best of life, happiness and success!!

VaBio/VaDDC Symposium


Emerging Targets, Technologies, and Therapeutics for Cancer and Neuroscience

 Save the Date –  MAY 21-22, 2019

Symposium Features


  • Susan Amara, PhD – Scientific Director, NIMH
  • Susan Horwitz, PhD – Falkenstein Chair in Cancer Research, Dept. of Molecular Pharmacology, Albert Einstein College of Medicine
  • Donna Huryn, PhD – Professor, Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Pittsburgh
  • Judy Leopold, PhD – Co-Director, Experimental Therapeutics Program, University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center
  • Craig Lindsley, PhD – William K. Warren, Jr. Chair in Medicine, Professor of Pharmacology and Chemistry, Vanderbilt University


Postdoctoral Position Open in Desai Lab’s K12 Career Development Program

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) has granted a K12 Career Development Program in translational glycosciences titled “Glycans in Blood Homeostasis and Disease” to Blood Center of Wisconsin (BCW), Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW), Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center (Roswell), and Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). This multi-institution (Wisconsin, New York and Virginia) program links unique and diverse glycoscience expertise with research facilities, major teaching hospitals, blood bank and pharmaceutical education. K12 Scholars are expected to commit and pursue a glycoscience based investigation, as it relates to the mission of the NHLBI through a rigorous program involving hands-on research, didactic coursework, collaboration with experienced scientists in and outside the field, dissemination of knowledge, paper and grant writing activities, and participation in the national K12 consortium. Scholars will become knowledgeable in 1) molecular aspects of glycoscience; 2) experimental research inquiries into functions of glycans; 3) translation of bench research to the bedside; 4) dissemination of research to scientists and the lay public; and 4) writing extramurally funded grant applications. Applications are invited from interested applicants, who must be U.S. citizens or lawfully admitted for permanent residents at the time of appointment. Eligibility includes post-doctoral fellows (PhD degree holders) that have completed at least 2 years of research training or have gained exceptional research qualifications during their graduate training, physicians (MDs) who have completed residencies or fellowships in clinical specialties, and early stage faculty members. Funding will become available July 1, 2018. Interested candidates are required to submit:

  • A completed application form (see
  • Complete full Curriculum Vitae
  • Cover letter clearly stating the desired Center(BCW, MCW, Roswell, or VCU) (Program Faculty members are listed below)
  • 1 – 2 page personal statement summarizing 1) past accomplishments; 2) area of intended research; 3) future career goals and timeline; 4) justification on how K12 training correlates with career goals; and 5) past and future interest in the field of glycosciences
  • 3 letters of recommendations to independently reach the K12 office (send to


The Desai lab has been awarded a five year K12 grant by National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute to train MDs, PhDs and dual degree holders for advanced careers in glycosciences. The title of the award is ”Glycans in Blood Homeostasis and Disease’ (1 K12 HL141954-01). Only four such K12 grants have been awarded by NHLBI in recognition of their excellence in glycoscience research and training. The ‘Glycans in Blood Homeostasis and Disease’ grant encompasses three centers in addition to VCU, including Blood Center of Wisconsin, Medical College of Wisconsin and Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center.  This is great news!


Congratulations to Shravan Morla on winning the Best Student Presentation Award at the VAS annual meeting. Please join us in congratulating him on a well-deserved recognition. He presented a fairly difficult topic of showing how impurities in a product can also lead to some interesting conclusions. Great work!!


Congratulations to Dr. Daniel Afosah on the award of GRC Carl Storm Underrepresented Minority Fellowship (CSURM) to present work at the 2018 Medicinal Chemistry Gordon Research Conferences. Dr. Afosah is postdoctoral associate in Dr. Desai’s lab.

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