AAPS presents awards to exemplary researchers

November 10, 2013

San Antonio -- During the Opening Session of the 2013 American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists (AAPS) Annual Meeting and Exposition, AAPS President Anthony J. DeStefano, Ph.D. presented the following ground-breaking researchers with awards commemorating their contributions to the pharmaceutical sciences:

Distinguished Pharmaceutical Scientist Award - Sponsored by AstraZeneca

Leaf Huang, Ph.D., University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill

Dr. Leaf Huang's laboratory has pioneered the development of non-viral vectors for delivery of gene-based therapies. His lab designed and manufactured the cationic lipid used in 1992 during the first clinical trial to employ non-viral gene therapy. Since then, a self-assembly process has been developed by the lab to produce an improved, membrane-core type nanoparticle resembling natural, enveloped viruses. These nanoparticles are able to evade liver macrophages, enhancing their potential as a delivery system. Dr. Huang was also among the first to find that polyethylene glycol prolongs the circulation time of liposomes. Membranecore nanoparticles have been used by the lab to effectively deliver siRNA, miRNA and plasmid DNA-based therapies in animal models of cancer and liver disease. Inclusion of small molecule chemotherapeutic drugs within these nanoparticles is now under development in order to harness the synergistic effects of combination therapy. These efforts hold significant promise for future development of clinically effective gene and anti-cancer therapies.

New Investigator Grant in Pharmacokinetics, Pharmacodynamics, and Drug Metabolism - Sponsored by Biogen Idec

Sukyung Woo, Ph.D., University of Oklahoma

Dr. Sukyung Woo is an assistant professor in the University of Oklahoma College of Pharmacy. The research led by her group utilizes computational and experimental methods to better understand how tumors find ways to bypass antiangiogenic therapy. Antiangiogenic agents block formation of new blood vessels by tumors to bring necessary nutrients to grow and spread and have become an important treatment strategy for various solid tumors. Despite the shown promise for some cancers, tumors rapidly develop escape mechanisms, leading to drug resistance, which has become a potential obstacle to be overcome in clinical practice. If successful, knowledge obtained from this research will enable to use tumor's adaptation principle as a strategy to select subsequent treatment that could counteract such mechanisms and to identify predictive markers for response and resistance to antiangiogenic therapy.

New Investigator Grant in Pharmaceutics and the Pharmaceutical Technologies - Sponsored by Sanofi

Shyh-Dar Li, Ph.D., Ontario Institute for Cancer Research

Dr. Shyh-Dar Li is a principal investigator at Ontario Institute for Cancer Research and an assistant professor at the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Toronto. His research focuses on nanomedicine and drug delivery, and has been supported by federal funding, including NIH and Canadian Institutes of Health Research. His team has published 23 peer-reviewed articles over the past 5 years in leading pharmaceutical journals, and Dr. Li has received a number of new investigator awards from Prostate Cancer Foundation, Canadian Society for Pharmaceutical Sciences and Canadian Institutes of Health Research. Three of the drug delivery technologies his team developed have been licensed to industry for clinical translation, including a brain-targeted technology that is currently being tested in Phase II clinical trials.

David J.W. Grant Research Achievement Award in Physical Pharmacy - Sponsored by AbbVie

Raj Suryanarayanan (Sury), Ph.D., University of Minnesota

Professor Raj Suryanarayanan's (Sury) research work is in the area of materials science of pharmaceuticals. The broad goal of his research is to develop a fundamental understanding of material (both drugs and excipients) properties to prepare solid dosage forms with reproducible and predictable properties. Professor Sury and his research group have developed innovative techniques that enable the physical characterization of multiple analytes in a variety of matrices including tablets, capsules, hydrogels, microspheres, frozen solutions and lyophilized powders. Their studies have demonstrated the influence of formulation composition and processing parameters on the stability of the active pharmaceutical ingredient and the functionality of the excipients. His major accomplishments are in the following areas: (i) Novel applications of X-ray powder diffractometry in the characterization of pharmaceutical systems; (ii) Characterization and mechanisms of stabilization of amorphous systems; (iii) Phase transformations during processing and storage -- potential implications on product performance; (iv) The role of excipients in the preparation of stable freeze-dried formulations.

Innovation in Nanotechnology Award - Sponsored by Aptalis Pharmaceutical Technologies

Shardool Jain, Ph.D., Northeastern University

Dr. Shardool Jain has developed an effective non-viral gene delivery system for anti-inflammatory therapy in the treatment of inflammatory arthritis, while working in the laboratory of Dr. Mansoor Amiji in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences at Northeastern University, Boston. The delivery system is targeted towards acrophages, which are heavily involved in promoting inflammation and subsequently, causing joint damage. The efficacy studies conducted in pre-clinical disease model show that targeted therapy not only suppresses inflammation for sustained period but also treated animals retain their mobility. The success of the therapy is based on the reversal of macrophage phenotype from a pro-inflammatory state to an anti-inflammatory state. There is plenty of evidence indicating that macrophages are found to be in proinflammatory state in various other debilitating disease conditions such as diabetes and atherosclerosis. The long-term objective of this project is to further extend this concept to other diseases and evaluate the efficacy with newer therapeutic entities such microRNA encapsulated in the targeted delivery system.

Postdoctoral Fellow Awards - Sponsored by Merck

Bhagwat Prasad, Ph.D., University of Washington

Dr. Bhagwat Prasad joined Prof. Jashvant Unadkat's laboratory in the Department of Pharmaceutics, University of Washington in a project sponsored by an industry consortium (UWRAPT) in March 2011. Dr. Prasad is a lead scientist in this project with the research goals to enhance knowledge about the types and levels of transporters expressed in human tissues. Dr. Prasad has established and applied LC-MS/MS assays for quantification of drug transporter proteins in human liver, brain, intestine, kidney and placenta. Such transporter expression data are crucial to develop better physiologically based pharmacokinetic models to predict drug disposition, including inter-individual variability in pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of drugs, and drug interactions. These data are outstanding contribution toward pharmaceutical sciences, which will help scientists better predict the fate of new drugs to ensure their safe and effective use in the clinic. Dr. Prasad did his Ph.D., from NIPER, SAS Nagar, India in mass spectrometry and drug metabolism. In future, Dr. Prasad is interested to investigate effect of disease conditions, ontogeny, drug treatment and other environmental factors on the expression of drug transporters, receptors and metabolizing enzymes in tissues, the molecular mechanisms of such changes, and application of such data in systems based predictions of drug disposition and response.

Changyou Zhan, Ph.D., Boston Children's Hospital, Harvard Medical School

Dr. Changyou Zhan has developed a potent D-peptide p53 activator as drug candidate for anticancer therapy. This D-peptide, termed DPMI-d, is fully resistant to proteolytic degradation and demonstrates ultrahigh affinity and specificity for MDM2 binding, and holds the potential as a targeting therapeutic for 50% cancer patients where point mutations in the TP53 gene result in loss of p53 activity. The oncoprotein MDM2 negatively regulates the activity and stability of the p53 tumor suppressor and is an important molecular target for anticancer therapy. Using the D-peptide scaffold previously identified by mirror-image phage display, Dr. Zhan extensively analyzed the peptide-protein contact surface and studied the influence of side chain on the interaction. Drug discovery based on the scaffold of protease resistant D-peptides, when coupled with advanced drug delivery technologies, offers a viable and robust solution to the problems both academia and industry are facing today. His work on the design of ultrahigh affinity D-peptide antagonists of MDM2 to activate the p53 tumor suppressor may spearhead the development of new classes of anticancer therapeutics.

Gaurav Sahay, Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Dr. Gaurav Sahay is currently a postdoctoral associate with Prof. Robert Langer and Prof. Daniel Anderson at Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT. He received his Ph.D. from the Lab of Dr. Alexander Kabanov at the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC). He holds a Master's Degree in Pharmacology from UNMC and Bachelor's Degree in Pharmacy from University of Pune. His work is on the interface of nanotechnology, cell biology and drug delivery. Nanotechnology based platforms are extensively being used to deliver drugs, siRNA, pDNA and imaging agents. Recent studies show nanoparticles utilize multiple mechanism(s) of endocytosis to enter cells. A repertoire of nanomedicines remains trapped in endocytic vesicles and their subcellular destination remains inaccessible this is detrimental to their efficiency. At MIT, Dr. Sahay has focused molecular mechanism (s) involved in the transport of nanoparticles inside cells. Dr. Sahay utilized novel cellular trafficking probes in combination with automated high-throughput confocal microscopy as well as defined perturbations of cellular pathways paired with systems biology to reveal endocytic cellular factors that influence internalization and efficiency of siRNA delivery by lipid nanoparticles (Nature Biotech. 2013 June 23). These studies provide insights that guide development of next generation of nanomedicines.

Pharmaceutical Research Meritorious Manuscript Award - Sponsored by PfizerAAPS Journal Manuscript Award - Sponsored by Hoffman La Roche, Inc.AAPS Outstanding Manuscript Award in Analysis and Pharmaceutical QualityAAPS Graduate Student Awards

AAPS Graduate Student Symposium in Analysis and Pharmaceutical Quality - Sponsored by U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention and Wolfe Laboratories AAPS Graduate Student Symposium in Biotechnology - Sponsored by PfizerAAPS Graduate Student Symposium in Drug Discovery and Development Interface - Sponsored by Vertex, Celgene, Alkermes, Bristol-Myers SquibbAAPS Graduate Student Symposium in Formulation Design and Development - Sponsored by Bristol-Myers SquibbAAPS Graduate Student Symposium in Manufacturing Science and Engineering - Sponsored by Bristol-Myers SquibbAAPS Graduate Student Symposium in Physical Pharmacy and Biopharmaceutics - Sponsored by Bristol-Myers SquibbAAPS Graduate Student Symposium in Pharmacokinetics, Pharmacodynamics and Drug Metabolism and Clinical Pharmacology and Translational Research - Sponsored by Eli Lilly & Co.AAPS Lipid Based Drug Graduate Student Award - Sponsored by GattefosséAAPS Ocular Drug Delivery and Disposition Focus Group Student Poster Awards - Sponsored by Bausch & LombAAPS Graduate Student Award in Quality by Design and Product Performance - Sponsored by QbD Product Performance FGAAPS Outstanding Student Chapter of the Year Award
About AAPS: The American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists is a professional, scientific association of approximately 11,000 members employed in academia, industry, government and other research institutes worldwide. Founded in 1986, AAPS provides a dynamic international forum for the exchange of knowledge among scientists to serve the public and enhance their contributions to health. AAPS offers timely scientific programs, on-going education, information resources, opportunities for networking, and professional development. For more information, please visit http://www.aaps.org. Follow us on Twitter @AAPSComms; official Twitter hashtag for the meeting is: #AAPS2013.

American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists

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