D. Lansing Taylor, PhD

Director of the University of Pittsburgh Drug Discovery Institute
Allegheny Foundation Professor of Computational & Systems Biology

 

Contact Information:

dltaylor@pitt.edu

Office:       10045 BST 3
Phone:      412-648-9200
Fax:          412-648-9009

Link to CV:
Taylor CV

Link to Department:
Comp Sys Bio

Lans Taylor is the Director of the University of Pittsburgh Drug Discovery Institute and the Allegheny Foundation Professor of Computational & Systems Biology. In my role as the Director of the University of Pittsburgh Drug Discovery Institute, I have the goal to assist both academic and commercial collaborators to discover and to develop efficacious and safe therapeutics based on the integration of outstanding science, technology and drug discovery/development methods.

I began my academic career as an Assistant Professor at Harvard University and remained at Harvard until 1982, developing and using novel fluorescence-based reagents and imaging technologies to investigate fundamental cellular processes in living cells. We developed fluorescent analog cytochemistry to study the temporal-spatial dynamics of proteins. I then moved to Carnegie Mellon University as a Professor of Biological Sciences and as Director of the Center for Fluorescence Research in the Biomedical Sciences. In 1991, I became the Director of the National Science Foundation-funded Center for Light Microscope Imaging and Biotechnology, and in 1995, I was named Vice Dean of CMU’s Division of Molecular Sciences. I continued to develop reagent and imaging technologies, while applying the technologies to understand fundamental processes in cells and tissues. Our laboratory developed ratio imaging to quantify temporal-spatial dynamics of ions, metabolites and proteins in cells, steady-state fluorescence anisotropy microscopy to measure temporal-spatial dynamics of protein binding in cells, the multimode light microscope to perform 4D dynamics of cells in mixed modes of contrast, as well as the Automated Interactive Microscope to perform high-speed 4D analyses on living cells and tissues. I co-founded Biological Detection Systems (BDS) with Alan Waggoner to commercialize the multi-color cyanine dyes and research imaging platforms and it was acquired by Amersham.

A great limitation of imaging technology in the 1990’s was the very slow and interactive nature of image data management and analysis. I left CMU to found Cellomics, Inc., the company that developed High Content Screening (also called automated microscopy). Fully automated microscopy was the foundation for a shift from focusing primarily on generating images to generating large-scale, quantitative data on cells. I was CEO of this company from 1996 through 2003 and it is now part of Thermo Fisher. I then founded a third company, Cellumen, that developed a predictive safety assessment platform using primary hepatocytes, multiplexed panels of reagents, reference safety databases and computational biology. I was CEO of Cellumen from 2004 until 2010 when the company was sold. I also co-founded Cernostics, Inc., a fluorescence-based, tissue systems pathology company. I hold >25 U.S. patents, including six focused on cell-based imaging.  I was the recipient of an NIH MERIT award from 1990-2000 and a Pioneer Award from the National Science Foundation.  I returned to academia at the end of 2010 to continue my academic interests which now link large-scale cell, tissue and experimental organism profiling with computational and systems biology to optimize drug discovery.

I am focusing my efforts in Quantitative Systems Pharmacology in order to change the paradigm in drug discovery and development. My interests have evolved from single cell activities to understanding cellular population dynamics, including the biological basis for heterogeneity in response to perturbations such as drug treatments.  We are investigating populations of cancer cell models labeled with panels of fluorescent probes of pathway nodes, organelle functions and cell health to measure, model and predict outcomes using computational and systems biology methods.  In addition, we are exploring the application of tissue-engineered models of organ functions together with imaging technologies and fluorescence-based biosensors to better predict early safety liabilities.

 

Jeremy M. Berg, PhD

Director of the Institute of Personalized Medicine
Associate Vice Chancellor for Science Strategy and Planning in the Health Sciences
Professor of Computational and Systems Biology at the University of Pittsburgh

Contact Information:

jberg@pitt.edu

Office:     Scaife Hall, S304

Phone:    412-624-1223

Fax:

Link to CV:
 CV:

Link to Department:
Comp Sys Bio

Jeremy M. Berg is Director of the Institute of Personalized Medicine, Associate Vice Chancellor for Science Strategy and Planning in the Health Sciences, and Professor of Computational and Systems Biology at the University of Pittsburgh. Prior to coming to Pittsburgh in August 2011, Dr. Berg served as the director of the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), where he oversaw a $2 billion budget that funded basic research in the areas of cell biology, biophysics, genetics, developmental biology, pharmacology, physiology, biological chemistry, bioinformatics and computational biology as well as research in anesthesiology, wound healing, and critical care related to burn and trauma.

Prior to his appointment as NIGMS director, Dr. Berg directed the Institute for Basic Biomedical Sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, MD, where he also served as professor and director of the department of biophysics and biophysical chemistry. Among Dr. Berg’s numerous awards and honors are the American Chemical Society Award in Pure Chemistry, the Howard K. Schachman Public Service Award from the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB), election to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, and a Public Service Award from the American Chemical Society.

Dr. Berg’s research focuses the relationships between the structures and functions of biological molecules. He has made major contributions to understanding how zinc-containing proteins bind to the genetic material DNA or RNA and regulate gene activity. His work, and that of others in the field, has led to the design of metal-containing proteins that control the activity of specific genes. These tailored proteins are valuable tools for basic research on gene function, and such proteins could one day have medical applications in regulating genes involved in diseases, as well. Dr. Berg has also made contributions to our understanding of systems that target proteins to specific compartments within cells and to the use of sequence databases for predicting aspects of protein structure and function. He is currently using computational methods to estimate binding free energies for peptides interacting with targeting receptors.

Dr. Berg is a graduate of Stanford University, where he earned his BS and MS in chemistry. He received his PhD in chemistry from Harvard University. He was a postdoctoral fellow in the biophysics at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

 

Adrian Lee, PhD

Professor of Pharmacology, Chemical Biology and Human Genetics

Contact Information:

leeav@pitt.edu

Office: A412 Magee Womens Rsch Institute

Phone: 412-641-8554

Fax: 412-641-2458

Link to CV:
Lee CV

Link to Department:
Pharmacology.us

Dr Lee is Professor of Pharmacology and Chemical Biology, and Professor of Human Genetics at the University of Pittsburgh, and Director of the Women’s Cancer Research Center at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute and Magee Women’s Research Institute. Dr. Lee received his B.Sc. in Biochemistry from Kent University in England. and performed his graduate studies at the Imperial Cancer Research Fund in London, and then at the University of Surrey in Guildford, England. Dr. Lee came to the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UTHSCSA) for his postdoctoral studies and was subsequently recruited as an Assistant Professor to Baylor College of Medicine where he rose to the position of tenured Associate Professor in the Breast Center and Departments of Medicine and Molecular and Cellular Biology.

The goal of Dr. Lee’s laboratory is to translate basic cell and molecular research findings into the understanding and treatment of breast cancer. To this end, Dr Lee’s laboratory studies many aspects of translational breast cancer research utilizing basic biochemistry and molecular biology, cell lines, mouse models and patient biopsies from clinical trials. The main focus of the laboratory is the understanding of how IGFs regulated breast transformation, and how this knowledge can be used for successful treatment of patients. Dr. Lee’s lab is also studying intra-tumor heterogeneity in breast cancer, and the implications for diagnosis, prognosis and the implementation of personalized medicine. Dr Lee works closely with colleagues to implement IT and database infrastructure for personalized genomic medicine.

Dr Lee has published over 100 peer reviewed research articles and has funding from NIH, Department of Defense, Susan G. Komen Foundation, and other sources. Dr Lee serves on numerous other national peer-review committees, and is on the Editorial Board’s of several journals including serving as Associate Editor for Endocrinology. Dr Lee is on the Scientific Advisory Council for Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

 

Edward Chu, MD

Chief, Division of Hematology-Oncology
Deputy Director of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute
Professor of Medicine and Pharmacology & Chemical Biology

 

Contact Information:

chue2@upmc.edu

Office: University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, 5150 Centre Ave, Fifth Floor, Room 571

Phone:     412-648-6589
Fax:         412-648-6579

Link to CV:
Chu CV

Link to University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute:

UPCI UPMC

Ed Chu is the Chief of the Division of Hematology-Oncology, Deputy Director of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI), and Professor of Medicine and Pharmacology & Chemical Biology. In my role as the Leader of the Molecular Therapeutics Drug Discovery Program and Director of the Phase I Team, my main goal is to facilitate scientific collaborations between basic scientists and clinical/translational investigators to discover and develop novel anticancer agents therapeutics. The goal of our program is to take innovative science that is being conducted at UPCI and the University of Pittsburgh and translate directly into the clinic as well as take clinical observations and bring them back into the laboratory setting.

I began my academic career at the National Cancer Institute as a Senior Investigator in the NCI-Navy Medical Oncology Branch and remained there until 1996. At that time, the focus of my research was on investigating the mechanisms of resistance to the fluoropyrimidine class of anticancer agents and on investigating the mechanisms mediating the regulation of expression of thymidylate synthase, a major target in cancer chemotherapy. My lab made the seminal discovery that the expression of one of the key cancer chemotherapy targets of 5-FU, thymidylate synthase (TS), is controlled by a translational autoregulatory feedback mechanism, the first example in a eukaryotic system, which has helped to define the acute drug resistance following treatment of patients with 5-FU and other TS inhibitor compounds. I then moved to the Yale University School of Medicine in 1996 as a Professor of Medicine and Pharmacology; and initially as Director of the VACT Cancer Center and then Chief of the Section of Medical Oncology and Deputy Director of the Yale Cancer Center. During my fourteen years at Yale, my lab continued to focus on characterizing the molecular elements underlying the translational regulation of thymidylate synthase. In its role as an RNA binding protein, we determined that thymidylate synthase was able to bind to a wide range of other cellular mRNAs, and in so doing, was able to coordinately regulate the expression of these genes, many of which were involved in cancer cell growth and proliferation. We have used these studies to design and develop novel molecules to prevent this resistance mechanism, and of note, we have been working to develop siRNAs as novel therapeutic molecules to inhibit the translation of TS mRNA.

In addition to the basic research ongoing in my laboratory, I have been actively involved in the pre-clinical and clinical development of novel agents and combination strategies for colorectal cancer and other GI cancers. In particular, during my time at Yale, I worked closely with the basic research scientists to bring a number of novel small molecules and biologic agents into early-phase clinical trials. For the past seven years, I have worked closely with colleagues at Yale to develop Chinese herbal medicine as a modulator of cancer chemotherapy in the treatment of colorectal cancer. In this regard, I have worked closely with the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the Food and Drug Administration to design and implement novel paradigms for the development of Chinese herbal medicines and other botanical medicines, and most recently, our research team at Yale and here at UPCI was awarded a PO1 grant from the NCI to conduct a randomized phase II clinical trial investigating the effect of the PHY906 Chinese herbal medicine on the toxicity, efficacy, and quality of life associated with irinotecan chemotherapy in the second-line treatment of metastatic colorectal cancer. We are developing a phase I/II clinical study investigating the effects of this same Chinese herbal medicine on the antitumor efficacy and toxicity of the combination of capecitabine, an oral fluoropyrimidine, plus radiation therapy in the treatment of early-stage rectal cancer. In the laboratory, members of my research group are also investigating the potential biological activity and antitumor activity of a wide range of novel Chinese herbal medicines that we hope can be eventually used alone or in combination with standard chemotherapy in the treatment of colorectal cancer and other GI cancers.

 

Ivet Bahar, PhD

John K. Vries Chair in Computational & Systems Biology
Department of Computational & Systems Biology

Contact Information:

bahar@pitt.edu

Office:       3064 BST 3
Phone:      412-648-3332
Fax:          412-648-3163

Link to Laboratory:
Bahar Laboratory

Link to Department:
Comp Sys Bio

My lab has introduced and developed models and methods at multiple scales, including both molecular and systems levels, which assist in the translation of basic science findings to clinical applications. We are actively engaged in applying newly developed computational methodologies to challenging problems in drug discovery, with focus on cell signaling and regulation networks toward developing anticancer treatments or novel therapies for neurobiological disorders. Understanding the functional dynamics of biological systems is a major step toward achieving these goals. My research group’s 15+ years of experience with computer modeling and simulations of biomolecular structures, interactions and dynamics has enabled us to make great progress in unraveling the structure-encoded collective machinery of proteins, thus bridging between structure and function; developing network models for rapid assessment and/or design of biomolecular dynamics and interactions; understanding the basis of sequence conservation or co-evolution in relation to structural dynamics; and building pharmacophores modeling and assessing the synergistic effect of adopting polypharmacological strategies. Furthermore, we remain actively involved in catalyzing translational research as a co-director of the Molecular and Systems Modeling core laboratory of the Clinical Translational Science Institute (CTSI) at the University of Pittsburgh

 

Peter Wipf, PhD

University Professor of Chemistry

 

Contact Information:

pwipf@pitt.edu

Office:     1301 Chevron
Phone:    412-624-8606
Fax:        412-624-0787

Link to Department:
Chemistry

Peter Wipf’s research focuses on the total synthesis of natural products, organometallic and heterocyclic chemistry, diversity-oriented synthesis, medicinal chemistry and computational chemistry. At the center of his research program is the study of chemical reactivity and the use of synthesis to augment the chemical toolbox and develop new therapeutic strategies. A major emphasis involves the efficient preparation of polyfunctionalized nitrogen-containing building blocks for biological screening and natural product analog and total synthesis. The discovery of fundamentally new reaction pathways is stimulated by exploratory studies of transition metal complexes, in particular zirconocenes, and strained rings. One of his compounds, a PI-3 kinase inhibitor, is currently in Phase II clinical trials in the US and Canada.

 

Barry Gold, PhD

Professor and Chair, Pharmaceutical Sciences

 

Contact Information:

goldbi@pitt.edu

Office:     711 Salk Hall
Phone:    412-383-9593
Fax:        412-383-7436

Link to CV:
Gold CV

Link to Department:
Pharmaceutical Sciences

Barry Gold is Professor and Chair of the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh. He also serves as a member of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute. Before moving to Pittsburgh, he was Professor and Associate Director for Basic Research at the University of Nebraska Medical Center’s Eppley Cancer Center. He did his undergraduate, graduate and postgraduate studies in organic chemistry at Hunter College of the City University of New York, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and the University of Toronto, respectively. His research interests are related to (1) The design, synthesis and characterization of heterocyclic C-glycoside molecules that sequence-specifically bind to duplex DNA via triple helix formation. The goal of this work is to gene specifically regulation protein expression and probe transcriptional regulatory sequences; (2) the generation of anticancer drugs that efficiently form DNA lesions that are cytotoxic but not mutagenic in order to minimize secondary cancers; and (3) the development of small molecule inhibitors of specific DNA repair pathways that are involved in tumor resistance to anticancer drugs. He is active in the training of undergraduate, graduate and post-graduate students and has taught courses in medicinal chemistry, biochemistry, biophysical biochemistry, chemical carcinogenesis, nucleic acids and cancer research.

He has published more than 100 peer-reviewed papers and have been the lead inventor on three patents. He has maintained continuous NIH funding since 1977. He has been a member of the ACS since 1969. In 2008, he served as the Chair for the 31st National Medicinal Chemistry Symposium that was held in Pittsburgh. Previously, he has been on the executive committee of the ACS Division of Chemical Toxiciology. He has reviewed grants for a number of NIH study sections and for center and program project grants. He is on the editorial advisory boards of Burger’s Medicinal Chemistry and Drug Discovery and Future Medicinal Chemistry.

He has on ongoing involvement with efforts to increase the number of under-represented minorities in science. He has served as a mentor for high school teachers as part of the mentoring program of the Society for the Advancement of Native Americans and Chicanos in Science (SACNAS) and on the Minority Affairs Committee of the Biophysical Society.