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.

The ISB3D X-ray Crystallography Facility

Institute for Structural Biology, Drug Discovery and Development (ISB3D)

The ISB3D X-ray Crystallography Facility is a VCU-supported resource that is directed by Martin K. Safo, PhD and managed by Faik N. Musayev, PhD. The facility provides investigators equipment and resources for crystallographic analysis of macromolecules and/or small molecules. It offers and operates as a full service core by performing crystallization, X-ray diffraction data collection, processing, phasing, crystallographic refinement, model building, and visualization. The structural data obtained by the core provides scientists with a wealth of information including but not limited to 3D-structure, biological functions, structure-based drug design, ligand or DNA binding to protein, mutational effect of target macromolecules, or absolute stereochemistry of chiral compounds. The facility is complemented by a variety of training mechanisms and services to enhance access and user capability. In addition to providing service to the VCU community, we also offer crystallography services to outside organizations. Please contact us for your crystallographic and other structural biology service needs and/or potential collaborations.

Martin Safo :

Faik Musayev:

VCU Open Badminton Tournament 2018

Abhishek Kulkarni, one of our Medicinal Chemistry Graduate Students, is also a professional badminton player, wow!  Wish him luck as he represents VCU in a tournament this weekend at the Larrick Student Center on the VCU Health Campus, Saturday, February 24th & Sunday, February 25, 2018.


Abhishek Kulkarni won all 3 events he participated in at the VCU Open Badminton Tournament 2018.


The team of Drs. Sakagami and Desai awarded $15,000

The team of Drs. Sakagami and Desai have been awarded $15,000 to perform commercialization-enabling studies on ‘ Novel Flavonoid-based Oligomer Molulators of Elastase and Iron’ by the 2018 VCU Quest Commercialization Fund. The award will help to perform key experiments to further their joint patent-application on the same topic.


Congratulations to Dr. Balaji Nagarajan on the award of The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) Travel Award. Dr. Nagarajan will be presenting a poster titled “Computational Study of Glycosaminoglycan Specificity for Growth Factor and Chemokine Family Members” at the ASBMB National Meeting in San Diego, CA from April 21-25, 2018. Dr. Nagarajan is a postdoctoral associate in Dr. Desai’s lab. The ASBMB awards travel grants every year to help defray costs for presenting promising research at their annual meetings. The travel awards are competitive.

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