ABOUT THE SPEAKER:
Jie Jack Li taught organic chemistry for three years as an assistant professor in China, an experience which sowed the seeds of his passion for teaching. After earning his PhD in organic chemistry in 1995 at Indiana University, he carried out his postdoctoral training at MIT. He then worked as a medicinal chemist for fifteen years at Pfizer and Bristol-Myers Squibb, respectively. Although primarily an industrial chemist, Dr. Li carried out many scholarly activities during this period. In addition to being an inventor of nine patents, he published 24 research articles, 36 reviews, and 17 books with topics ranging from organic chemistry, to medicinal chemistry and history of drug discovery.
At USF, he teaches Organic Chemistry and History of Drug Discovery. His current research interests are in two areas: (a) Organic Chemistry: Development of synthetic methodology on the C-H activation of heterocycles, which are of paramount importance to drug discovery; and (b) Medicinal Chemistry: The current focuses are to discover novel anti-diabetic drugs by inhibiting the PH domain leucine-rich repeat protein phosphatase (PHLPP) in collaboration with Prof. Alexandra C. Newton at UCSD and to discover new anti-cancer drugs by targeting both novel and proven mechanisms of action such as the hedgehog signaling pathway.
ABOUT THE PRESENTATION:
The Story of Statins
Statins such as Lipitor, Zoccor, and Crestor are house-hold names as a class of cholesterol-lowering drugs. Statins are natural or synthetic molecules that inhibit HMG-CoA, the enzyme for the rate-limiting step of the cholesterol biosynthesis.
Over a dozen Nobel Prizes have been awarded to scientists working in the fields associated with cholesterol: from structure determination, total synthesis, causation of atherosclerosis, to biosynthesis. While early cholesterol-lowering drugs worked to some extent, most of them were plagued by toxic side effects. Akira Endo discovered the first statin mevastatin in 1976. But it was not until 1987 when Merck put Mevacor on the market and followed up with Zoccor, a semi-synthetic statin. Many statins began to gain wide-spread acceptance, each everyone a mega-blockbuster drug.
Dr. Li will trace back the history of statins, not just science associated with their discovery but also the personalities who made the discoveries.