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The University of Mississippi


Pharmacy Professor Awarded $1.2M NIH Grant

Funding to enable study of fluorine chemistry

OXFORD, Miss. – For the first time, a member of the University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy faculty has received the prestigious National Institutes of Health’s Early Stage Investigator Maximizing Investigators’ Research Award.

Sudeshna Roy, assistant professor of medicinal chemistry and pharmacognosy in the Department of BioMolecular Sciences, is the recipient of the R35 MIRA award. The grant provides a total of $1.2 million over five years for the Roy Laboratory to study fluorinated alkenes and explore the untapped potential of fluorinated alkenes.

“These molecules serve as versatile building blocks for blockbuster drugs, agrochemicals and polymers such as Teflon,” Roy said. “We wanted to study this topic because of the massive potential impact. Half of all blockbuster drugs contain fluorine.

“Fluorinated alkenes serve as building blocks to generate these drug molecules and help stitch fluorine at desirable positions that will improve drug-like properties.”

The goal of the MIRA R35 award is to increase the efficiency in funding by providing investigators with greater stability and flexibility, thereby enhancing scientific productivity and the chances for important breakthroughs. The award is unique in that it supports the researcher and their vision rather than any particular project.

“As we study fluorinated alkenes, build fluorinated scaffolds and novel cycloaddition manifolds, we expand the useful toolbox of starter compounds for our lab and other labs to utilize,” Roy said. “This will add speed and efficiency to current research and, hopefully, enable completely new discoveries down the line.

“It’s like if you were trying to build a car, and we were able to come in and say, ‘Hey, we’ve already discovered and tested all these different types of wheels.’”

Roy is not only the first School of Pharmacy faculty member to receive the award, but also the university’s second-ever recipient.

“I am so excited for Dr. Roy,” said Kristie Willett, chair of the Department of BioMolecular Sciences. “This funding will be transformational for her laboratory. It will allow her to recruit new students and research scholars to work with her to develop new innovative approaches to chemical synthesis.”

Research reported in this publication was supported by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences of the National Institutes of Health under award number R35GM150768.

By Natalie Ehrhardt