UCI Pharmaceutical Sciences Welcomes Brian Paegel

Pharmaceutical Sciences Welcomes Brian Paegel

The future of drug discovery is miniaturization.

Brian Paegel, PhD – a professor who began his career working on the Human Genome Project – joined the ranks of the UCI Pharmaceutical Sciences faculty. Paegel joins Pharmaceutical Sciences this past fall from Scripps Research, where he developed new technologies for drug discovery. Dr. Paegel’s highly interdisciplinary laboratory integrates engineering, chemistry, and biology to explore how miniaturization can make the discovery of new medicines faster and more economical.

” The fundamental question now is whether we can apply the principles of miniaturization in the same way to drug discovery?” 

– Brian Paegel, Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences

Having started his scientific career working on the Human Genome Project, Paegel recounts how miniaturization revolutionized DNA sequencing. “I watched genome sequencing evolve from being limited to four centralized DNA sequencing facilities across the country into a globally distributed enterprise. The fundamental question now is whether we can apply the principles of miniaturization in the same way to drug discovery?”  This would not only change the way that drug discovery is conducted, but it could also provide the opportunity to understand biological function more deeply just as some DNA sequencing-based approaches can illuminate other aspects of cellular function, such as the three-dimensional structure of the genome or large-scale gene expression.

Over the past ten years Paegel’s laboratory has focused on unraveling and conquering this question. “The answer really boils down to making libraries of small molecules quickly and affordably, and engineering ultra-miniaturized, automated systems that can screen these libraries for biological activity.” Paegel’s laboratory has developed and united technologies for microfluidic analysis and DNA-encoded library synthesis as the foundation for such a next-generation drug discovery platform.

Dr. Paegel comes to UCI with his lab members and a wealth of knowledge that will add value to UCI Pharmaceutical Sciences. “He is such an exciting addition to our faculty,” says Robert Spitale, Associate Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences.  “Brian is an expert in the development of next-generation methods for screening small molecule-target interactions, with particular focus on identifying potential chemistries that could be translated into drug leads. His research spans many disciplines, from organic chemistry to microfluidics. We are hopeful to collaborate and work with Brian to go after challenging drug targets that we have discovered in our research program.” When asked what led him to UCI Paegel says “I am drawn to launching new initiatives. The opportunity to be a part of building the Department of Clinical Pharmacy Practice and the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences is very exciting!”

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