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Arun K. Ghosh, Ph.D.

Dr. Arun K. Ghosh is the Ian P. Rothwell Distinguished Professor of Chemistry and Medicinal Chemistry & Molecular Pharmacology at Purdue University. He was born in Calcutta, India and obtained his B.S. degree in Chemistry (1979) and his M.S. degree in Chemistry (1981) from the Calcutta University and the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, India respectively. He received his Ph.D. in organic chemistry (1985) from University of Pittsburgh. He was a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University (1985-1988) where he worked in Professor E. J. Corey’s laboratories. Following his postdoctoral studies, he joined Merck Research laboratories at West Point, Pennsylvania as a medicinal chemist in late 1988. He worked on a number of research areas including inhibitor design against HIV protease and HIV reverse transcriptase. He also worked on the design of alpha 1-adrenergic receptor subtype-selective antagonists for treatment of benign prostate hyperplasia. In summer of 1994, he began his independent academic career as an Assistant Professor at the Department of Chemistry, University of Illinois, Chicago. He became a tenured Associate Professor in 1997 and then Professor of Chemistry, in 1998. In 2005, he moved to Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana as a Professor with a joint appointment in the Department of Chemistry and Department of Medicinal Chemistry & Molecular Pharmacology.

Over the years, Professor Ghosh’s research interests have bridged the areas of bioorganic, medicinal and synthetic chemistry. He has made notable contributions in the structure-based design and development of human medicine. Noteworthy is his creative development of Darunavir, the first FDA approved treatment for drug resistant HIV in 2006. Darunavir has now emerged as frontline therapy for HIV/AIDS. His research efforts on Alzheimer’s Disease set the stage for structure-based drug design efforts on beta-secretase inhibitors. His work on natural product syntheses and subsequent biological studies opened up new promise for treatment of resistant cancers. Ghosh’s research efforts in medicinal chemistry have led to the development of numerous conceptual tools for protein-structure-based drug-design, drug optimization and development. These include, backbone binding concept for designing of HIV-1 protease inhibitors to combat drug resistance, introduction of urethanes of stereochemically defined cyclic ethers and cyclic sulfones in drug design, protein-structure-based design of selectivity for beta-secretase inhibitors for Alzheimer’s Disease and design of reversible and irreversible inhibitors against corona virus proteases. His extensive work in synthetic chemistry resulted in chemical syntheses of numerous targets, covering over three dozen or so different structural families, including bioactive targets such as Laulimalide, Peloruside, Doliculide, Zapanolide, Lasanolide, Platensin and Platensomycin and others. He has been active in the determination of biological mechanisms of action of several anticancer natural products and conceptual design of molecular probes for in-depth studies, as well. These agents were isolated in miniscule quantity and in-depth biological studies could not be carried out. His syntheses and subsequent studies led to the discovery that both laulimalide and pelorusides are potent against taxol resistant cell lines, they bind to a novel drug-binding site on tubulin and show a synergistic effect with taxol. More recently, in collaboration with researchers at the NCI, lasonolide was shown to have a novel chromosome condensing ability. His research is also involved in the development of many new synthetic methodologies including asymmetric syn- and anti-selective adol reactions, asymmetric catalytic Diels-Alder, hetero Diel-Alder, Prins cyclization and asymmetric multicomponent reactions where multiple chiral centers are set in a single one-pot operation. His broad medicinal chemistry research efforts continue to improve the design of HIV protease inhibitors for combating drug-resistant-HIV, but also make significant contribution through the design and development of beta-secretase (memapsin 2) inhibitors for treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, and design of cysteine protease inhibitors against severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) corona virus proteases. His research efforts also led to the design and synthesis of the first potent beta-secretase inhibitors, and determination of the first X-ray crystal structure of inhibitor-bound beta-secretase-1, development of tools for selectivity design against beta-secretase 2 (memapsin 1) and Cathepsin D and also creation of inhibitors for clinical development.

Arun Ghosh has been awarded the Chemical Research Society of India Medal (2012); MERIT Award, National Institutes of Health (2011); IUPAC-Richter Prize in Medicinal Chemistry (2010); American Chemical Society’s Arthur C. Cope Senior Scholar Award (2010); Jeananne D. and James B. Chaney Research and Scholarship Achievement Award (2010). He received the ACS Robert Scarborough Excellence in Medicinal Chemistry Award (2008) and has received Novartis Chemistry Lectureship (2010-2011). He was elected as a member of American Association for the Advancement of Science (2005). He is on the current editorial advisory boards of numerous organic and medicinal chemistry international journals including ChemMedChem (2010-2013), ACS Medicinal Chemistry Letters (2010-2013), Journal of Medicinal Chemistry (2010-2013), Letters in Drug Design and Discovery (2010-2013), Reports in Organic Chemistry (2010-2013), Future Medicinal Chemistry (2008-2013) and Virus, Adaptation & Treatment (2008-2013). He is one of the scientific founders of Athenagen, Oklahoma City (2002), an Alzheimer’s drug-development company. Other honors include University Scholar, University of Illinois (1998-2001), National MERIT Scholar, Government of India (1976 - 1981). Professor Ghosh is the author of over 245 scientific research publications in leading international journals and over 50 US patents and patent applications in the fields of inhibitors of HIV-1 protease, beta-secretase inhibitors, SARS protease inhibitors and anti-cancer agents. He edited a book entitled, ‘Aspartic Acid Proteases as Therapeutic Targets’ published by Wiley-VCH in 2010.

He is married to his wife, Jody, an emergency physician and lives in West Lafayette, IN with their three children.

ACS Division of Medicinal Chemistry

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