Central Nervous System Disorders

Central Nervous System Disorders

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Xiaolin Cheng
Xiaolin Cheng, PhD, Associate Professor

Xiaolin Cheng, PhD

Dr. Cheng’s research centers on computational drug discovery and design. His research utilizes a myriad of molecular modeling and simulation techniques (e.g., molecular dynamics, free energy calculations, etc.) and data analytics (e.g., machine learning, network analysis, etc.), to understand the molecular basis of drug action and to design rationally small-molecule therapeutics. Working at the interface between medicinal chemistry and structural pharmacology, Dr. Cheng’s goal is to bring a dynamics and systems perspective into the structure-based drug design paradigm. In this context, his laboratory is particularly interested in the design and discovery of allosteric and multi-target drugs for the treatment of cancer and other diseases.

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Kari Hoyt
Kari Hoyt, PhD, Associate Professor

Kari Hoyt, PhD 

Dr. Hoyt's research team members are engaged in pre-clinical target identification for pharmacologic treatment of neurodegenerative and psychiatric disorders. They use in vivo and in vitro high-resolution fluorescence microscopy and high-content analysis of live neurons to reveal complex interactions between signaling pathways that regulate cell survival/function and circadian clock signaling. This work is designed to identify new avenues of chronotherapeutic target development for CNS disorders.

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Craig McElroy
Craig McElroy, PhD, Research Assistant Professor

Craig McElroy, PhD

The McElroy laboratory focuses on developing countermeasures to organophosphorus compounds (OPs), present in both pesticides and nerve agents. These compounds inhibit covalently the acetylcholinesterase enzyme, leading to a build-up of acetylcholine, which can quickly cause death if untreated. His lab’s projects focus on three points of intervention. First, prophylaxis requires intervention before or shortly after a person is exposed and attempts to rid the body of the OPs before they inhibit acetylcholinesterase. They aim to do this through a specialized vaccine that creates antibodies to bind and/or cleave OPs or by increasing the levels of drug metabolizing enzymes that can cleave OPs. A second point of intervention is after acetylcholinesterase is inhibited. For this, the McElroy lab tries to create compounds that can remove the OPs from the inhibited acetylcholinesterase. The final intervention step is after acetylcholinesterase goes through a process called aging. They have developed and are improving the activity of compounds that can reverse this process.

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