Chemistry Seminar: Professor Kelly Teske, Western Michigan University

Friday, November 15, 2019 at 4:00pm

A. Paul Schaap Science Center, 1000
35 East 12th Street, Holland, MI 49423-3605

"Approaches to Identifying Small Molecule Modulators of Dysregulated microRNA" by Kelly A. Teske, PhD, Western Michigan University

Abstract: Prior to the Human Genome Project, noncoding RNAs (ncRNAs) were disregarded as “junk” genome. However, they are now known to play a pivotal role in regulating gene expression at the post-transcriptional level. microRNAs (miRs) are short ncRNAs (~19-23 nucleotides) that inhibit the translation of mRNA, repressing gene expression. miRs have recently emerged as promising targets in drug discovery due to their observed dysregulation in disease such as cancer, neurological disorders, and cardiovascular disease. Previously thought of as “undruggable” targets, recent advances have indicated that miRs are susceptible to drug intervention. Herein, I will discuss our efforts aimed at identifying small molecules that modulate miR activity that will serve as lead compounds for the development of both novel anti-cancer therapies as well as tools to better study the biological role that miRs play in cancer. 

Biography: Kelly was born in Rockford, IL and attended Illinois State University (ISU) where she majored in Chemistry and Biochemistry & Molecular Biology. While at ISU, Kelly conducted undergraduate research in Dr. C. Frank Shaw’s lab studying the metabolism of gold-based rheumatoid arthritis drugs. After completing her undergraduate studies in 2010, Kelly joined the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee where she studied organic chemistry and biochemistry and there applications to medicinal chemistry under the advisement of Dr. Leggy A. Arnold. Her doctoral studies focused on the development of a non-secosteroidal drug that targeted and inhibited the Vitamin D Receptor (VDR) for the treatment of various diseases, including cancer, without causing hypercalcemic effects observed with current treatments. Kelly completed her studies in 2015 and accepted a postdoctoral research position working for Dr. M. Kyle Hadden in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences at University of Connecticut. There she applied medicinal chemistry approaches to improving azole anti-fungals, itraconazole and posaconazole, anti- Hedgehog Signaling Pathway activity for the treatment of medulloblastoma. In 2018, Kelly began her independent academic career as an assistant professor of chemistry at Western Michigan University (WMU) in Kalamazoo, MI. Her research program at WMU focuses on the development of microRNA-targeting small molecules to serve as chemical probes to better understand their role in cancer. Additionally, these small molecules are being used as starting points for drug development for these difficult-to-drug targets.


Event Type

Academics, Natural & Applied Sciences Division, Chemistry and Biochemistry

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