Lobna Elsadek, a third-year graduate student in the University of Florida College of Pharmacy’s department of medicinal chemistry, was awarded a F31 fellowship from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, or NIGMS. The two-year award is worth nearly $88,000 and will allow Elsadek to advance her research around the discovery and mechanistic characterization of new cytotoxic agents from marine cyanobacteria. F31 awards support the research training of predoctoral students from population groups that have been shown to be underrepresented in the biomedical research workforce.
In summarizing her research, Elsadek described it this way: “Harnessing the structural space reproduced by marine cyanobacteria in an efficient planned strategy would significantly impact the cancer research field,” she said. “Therefore, we screen cyanobacterial samples for new/novel cytotoxins and complement our discovery with comprehensive mechanistic studies to assign the therapeutically relevant biological targets. As unbiased assessment of cellular targets is necessary to mine for novel biology/targets, we implement universal approaches that could pinpoint perturbed biological pathways and potential molecular targets. In parallel, targeted approaches are employed if structural features of the identified cytotoxin suggest potential pharmacophores with known interacting proteins. We successfully identified targets of the antifungal cytotoxin amantelide A using chemogenomic profiling and targeted approaches.”
Elsadek is mentored by Hendrik Luesch, Ph.D., professor and chair of medicinal chemistry and the Debbie and Sylvia DeSantis Chair in Natural Products Drug Discovery and Development.