Medicinal/Computational Chemistry Team
Hari Vankalayapati, MPharm, PhD
Hariprasad Vankalayapati, MPharm, PhD, is chief discovery scientist in experimental therapeutics in the Center for Investigational Therapeutics Program at Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI). He oversees the medicinal and computational chemistry programs.
Vankalayapati's research interests include rational design and synthesis of small molecule therapeutics targeting cell signaling, protein-protein interaction, transcription factors, and cell-surface proteins. This work aims to discover and develop agents for treating cancer and various inflammatory, metabolic, and infectious diseases.
Previously, Vankalayapati was chief scientist and director of medicinal chemistry at SuperGen, Inc.; he remains a consultant and advisor. He has also served as director of medicinal chemistry and co-founding member of Montigen Pharmaceuticals.
Vankalayapati was director of chemistry at Neuropro Technologies, Inc. He was associate research scientist and senior postdoctoral fellow in the Medicinal Chemistry Division at the Arizona Cancer Center of the University of Arizona. Vankalayapati did postdoctoral research in organic chemistry at the University of Sunderland, England, and also worked for Ranbaxy Research Laboratories, New Delhi, India, as a research scientist on infectious and CV drug discovery programs.
Vankalayapati received his doctoral degree in medicinal chemistry from the Institute of Chemical Technology of the University of Bombay. He has authored more than 49 research publications related to organic, medicinal and computational chemistry and holds five granted and 18 PCT/US-published patents.
Venkataswamy Sorna, PhD
Venkataswamy Sorna, PhD, is a senior postdoctoral fellow for medicinal chemistry in the Center for Investigational Therapeutics Program at Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI).
As a synthetic organic chemist, Sorna's research involves the rational design and synthesis of small molecule heterocyclic compounds targeting various protein kinases for anticancer activities.
Before joining HCI, Sorna worked as a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Medicinal Chemistry at the University of Utah College of Pharmacy, and as a research associate in the Department of Chemistry, Indian Institute of Technology in Madras. He also served as a research scientist at Expicor Pharma Inc., in Hyderabad, India. Sorna earned a PhD from the SKD University, India.
Alexis Mollard, PhD
Alexis Mollard, PhD, is a postdoctoral fellow in the Center for Investigational Therapeutics Program at Huntsman Cancer Institute.
Mollard works in the medicinal and computational chemistry programs and focuses on rational design and synthesis of small molecule inhibitors of various protein kinases. He received a bachelor's degree in chemistry and chemical engineering from CPE Lyon (France) and a PhD in organic chemistry from the University of Utah.
Steve Warner, PhD
Steven Warner, PhD, is senior manager of drug discovery in the Center for Investigational Therapeutics Program at Huntsman Cancer Institute.
Warner specializes in small molecule drug discovery, new screening platforms in drug discovery, and translational research focused on cancer therapeutics. He is an expert in the discovery of novel cancer agents and has played integral roles in moving multiple compounds into clinical trials. He led the discovery biology program at SuperGen Inc, a pharmaceutical company that specializes in cancer drug discovery and development.
Warner earned a bachelor's degree from Brigham Young University and a doctoral degree from the University of Arizona. He completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) in Phoenix, AZ.
Mark Wade, PhD
Mark Wade, PhD, is a research scientist in the Center for Investigational Therapeutics Program at Huntsman Cancer Institute. His research focuses on the examination of molecular correlates of clinical trials and biomarker discovery. This research concentrates on signaling pathways that lead to the formation and spread of tumors which potentially lead to new diagnostic markers and therapeutic targets. Studies also include the discovery of molecular markers that validate therapeutic intervention at the molecular and clinical levels.
He previously directed the clinical research application core, facilitating research collaborations between medical and basic science investigators. These collaborations have focused on two main areas:
- Modulation of epigenetic changes responsible for the initiation and progression of cancers
- Modulation and inhibition of tumorigenic kinases and their downstream molecular biomarkers to better diagnose and categorize tumors and monitor drug responses
Wade earned a bachelors degree in biochemistry from the University of California, San Diego, and a doctoral degree in pharmacology from the University of Colorado Health Science Center, Denver.
Bret Stephens, PhD
Bret Stephens, PhD, is a postdoctoral research associate in the Center for Investigational Therapeutics Program at Huntsman Cancer Institute.
Stephens is interested in understanding the importance of hypomethylation of the genome in cancer stem cells and in identifying and testing inhibitors of enzymes involved in this process.
He earned a bachelor's degree from Utah State University and a doctoral degree in molecular and cellular biology from the University of Arizona.
Jared Bearss, BS, is a senior laboratory specialist in the Center for Investigational Therapeutics Program at Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI).
Bearss specializes in development and use of genetically modified animals to model human disease. He comes to HCI from Supergen, Inc., a pharmaceutical company that specializes in cancer drug discovery and development.
Bearss earned a bachelor's degree from Utah Valley University.
Mei Yang, MSc
Mei Yang, MSc, is a visiting scholar from the People's Republic of China, where she earned a bachelor's degree from the Lanzhou Medical College and a master's degree from the Qinghai University Medical College. During the past several years, Mei studied at the Center for High Altitude Medicine of Qinghai University Medical College, where she researched the pharmacodynamics of Tibetan medicines. In 2007, Mei studied the kinetics of nitrite in vivo at Kanazawa Medical University, Japan.
Lee Call is a laboratory technician in the Center for Investigational Therapeutics Program at Huntsman Cancer Institute. Lee's work in the lab involves screening new cancer targets against the in-house compound library, hit confirmation, assay optimization, and ordering/stocking lab supplies. He earned a bachelor's degree from Brigham Young University.