The Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry is one of the three research and teaching departments in the School of Pharmacy at UCSF. As part of its research mission, the research laboratory focuses on developing chemical tools for decoding biology and advancing medicine. The laboratory is currently developing small molecules to control the activity of nuclear receptors, a class of intracellular proteins that regulate gene expression in response to endogenous hormones and other small molecules. These receptors play critical roles in human development, physiology, and disease and have proven to be effective therapeutic drug targets. Two of the nuclear receptors currently being studied in the laboratory are Nurr1, a therapeutic target for Parkinson's disease, and LRH-1, a therapeutic target for inflammatory bowel disease and several types of cancer.
The Staff Research Associate II (SRA II) will characterize the effects of small molecules on the activity of nuclear receptors using cellular assays. Depending on the stage of the project, these assays may include: (1) luciferase reporter assays on nuclear receptors exogenously expressed in a heterologous cell type (e.g. CHO, HEK); (2) target gene transcription assays (RTqPCR) on endogenously expressed nuclear receptors in a biologically relevant cell type (e.g. MN9D, Caco-2); (3) target gene transcription assays (RTqPcR) in primary cells (e.g. acute dissociated neurons).
Other aspects of the project may involve developing DNA constructs to explore various aspects of nuclear receptor functioning in cells, such as characterizing ligand effects on the localization and trafficking of nuclear receptors using appropriate microscopic imaging tools and techniques.
The SRA II will join a team of investigators working on other aspects of the project (e.g. synthesizing ligands, characterizing ligand binding using biophysical methods), but is expected to work independently under the general direction of the Principal Investigator (PI).
The Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry' research focuses on understanding fundamental biochemical mechanisms underlying health and diseases, which are key to developing new and more effective diagnostics and medications. The Department's basic research not only identifies new drug targets for small molecule drugs, it also develops the tools and methods to discover such targets and therapies to more rapidly determine their efficacy and safety at the molecular level thus improving the efficiency of the drug discovery process and potentially leading to improved therapeutics.
The University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) is a leading university dedicated to promoting health worldwide through advanced biomedical research, graduate-level education in the life sciences and health professions, and excellence in patient care. It is the only campus in the 10-campus UC system dedicated exclusively to the health sciences.