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Molecular Pharmacology Highlighted Trainee Author, April 2018

March 09, 2018

Anita K. NivedhaAnita K. Nivedha is the Molecular Pharmacology Highlighted Trainee Author for the April 2018 issue.

Dr. Nivedha is currently affiliated with the City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center. The Molecular Pharmacology article that earned her selection as a Highlighted Trainee Author is titled “Identifying Functional Hotspot Residues for Biased Ligand Design in G-protein-coupled Receptors."

Dr. Nivedha’s studies are focused on understanding the role of the conformational dynamics of agonist-GPCR-G-protein and agonist-GPCR-β-arrestin complexes in biasing the efficacy of agonists towards one signaling pathway over the other. She uses molecular dynamics simulations to delineate the atomic level mechanisms of how agonist binding information is communicated to the intracellular cavity of the GPCR, where the G-protein or β-arrestin couples, to show bias. In collaboration with Boehringer Ingelheim Pharma GmbH & Co., she has developed a computational method to predict the G-protein/β-arrestin bias of GPCR agonists. Using this method, “functional hotspots” in the agonist binding site have been identified that contribute to biasing the agonist towards either the G-protein signaling pathway or the β–arrestin signaling pathway. She plans to use the location of these “functional hotspots” to derive receptor-based pharmacophores in an effort to enhance the efficacy of bias for GPCRs.

Anita's work can be used in the design of biased drugs with reduced side-effects, caused due to the activation of either the G-protein or β-arrestin pathway. This could mean that we can have opioid drugs with favorable analgesic effects, but without the undesirable side-effects of the drug, such as, respiratory depression and addiction.

When not in the lab, Anita enjoys playing racket sports, hunting for geocaches, and learning to play the flute.

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