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Members

  • Jia Zhou, Ph.D.

    Jia ZhouProfessor
    Director, Chemical Biology Program
    Director, Molecular Therapeutics Core
    T32 Participating Faculty Member
    Department: Pharmacology & Toxicology

    Email: jizhou@utmb.edu
    Phone: 409.772.9748

    Bio & Research

Biography

My research interests are broadly based on the interface of synthetic organic chemistry and medicinal chemistry, and in particular on the drug discovery of bioactive molecules to probe biological systems or act as potential therapeutic agents in neuroscience and oncology.  With this general idea in mind, and in active collaboration with other biologists and pharmacologists, my group would like to establish as strong and creative research program that applies state-of-the-art chemical approaches to biological problems impacting diagnosis, prevention and treatment of human diseases.

One of our current efforts is focused on design and synthesis of small molecules for probing function and development of pharmacological tools for understanding the workings of the brain and that of novel therapies for central nervous system (CNS) disorders such as drug abuse and addiction, depression, schizophrenia, pain, and neurodegenerative diseases.  The proposed projects in this area include the identification, characterization and optimization of allosteric modulators, bitopic ligands, and inverse agonists of 5-HT2C receptor,neuromedin U receptor 2 (NMUR2) ligands, as well as AMPA receptor positive allosteric modulators for preventing neuroapoptosis.  We are also working on the discovery of DeltaFosB inhibitors, neurexin modulators, and FG14/Nav1.6 channel complex inhibitors as CNS probes and potential therapeutics.  Another line of research development centers on the establishment of novel chemical libraries aiming at mechanism-based or lead compound-based cancer drug discovery, particularly by targeting Bcl-2 family proteins and apoptosis pathways as well as novel transcription factors.  The molecular targets of our drug design include, but are not limited to, the activator protein 1 (AP-1), Krueppel-like factor 5 (KLF5), KRAS, signal transducers and activators of transcription (STATs) with the aid of molecular docking.  Specifically, we are developing Bax activators, BH4 domain antagonists of Bcl2, orally bioavailable STAT3 inhibitors, AP-1 inhibitors, KLF5 inhibitors, KRAS plasma membrane localization inhibitors, cystathionine-β-synthase (CBS) inhibitors as a new class of preventative/therapeutic agents for various human cancers including brain tumors, breast cancer, lung cancer, head/neck cancer, colorectal cancer, prostate cancer, and pancreatic cancer as well as inflammation.  Other research efforts include design and synthesis of small molecule probes targeting EPAC, which are exchange factors.  Last but not least, we are also working on natural product-inspired diversity-oriented synthesis that may lead to exciting potentials for novel small molecule drug discovery.

Education
  • B.Sc., 1991, Central China Normal University, China
  • M.Sc., 1994, Nankai University, Tianjin, China
  • Ph.D., 1997, Nankai University, Tianjin, China
  • Post-Doctoral Training, 1999-2001, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia
  • Post-Doctoral Training, 2001-2003, Georgetown University, Washington, D.C.
  • Residential School on Medicinal Chemistry, , Drew University, Madison, New Jersey