Stoddard Research Group

Project 1:  Development of antigen specific blocking monobodies for autoimmune disorders therapies

Autoimmune disease affects at least 23.5 million Americans, and is the 2nd leading cause of long-term chronic illness. Autoimmune disease is caused when a person’s immune system begins to attack healthy cells in the body. Current therapies for autoimmune disease often utilize non-specific drugs that suppress the entire patient’s immune system. This approach puts the patient at risk of contracting other infections more easily and makes them less likely to be able to fight them off successfully. Thus the goal of our research is to develop therapeutic approaches that will only suppress the aberrant portion of a patient’s immune system. In this project we focus on the design, optimization, and experimental testing of protein monobodies that can inhibit the immune system from attacking healthy cells. One specific autoimmune disorder that the MIR lab targets is idiopathic membranous nephropathy (IMN). Which is a kidney specific autoimmune disorder affecting 10 to 12 million individuals. 

Collaborators:

Laurence Beck: Boston University Medical College
Roberto de la Salud Bea: Rhodes College
Kim Brien: Rhodes College

Project 2: Design of Histone Deaceaylase (HDAC) Inhibitors with improved potency and HDAC selectivity

Different types of cancer cells have been found to vary in the amount of and type of histone deacetylase (HDAC) they express. HDACs are a family of 18 different enzymes and are important for gene regulation. Because different cancers may express certain HDACs in greater or lower amounts these enzymes are good drug targets for cancer therapy. There have been challenges in designing HDAC drugs that will inhibit only one of the 18 enzymes. Thus this project focuses on development of not only potent HDAC inhibitors but also selective HDAC inhibitors.

One of the specific cancers that the MIR lab targets is neuroblastoma. Neuroblastoma is a childhood pediatric cancer, which has proved difficult to treat. Neuroblastoma has been shown to have over expression of HDAC8 in tumor cells thus is pursuing the design of potent and selective HDAC8 inhibitors. 

Collaborators:

Davita Watkins: University of Mississippi
Kim Brien: Rhodes College          


MIR Lab Junior Researchers

Front Row:  AliReza Zaravar (’18), Liam Goldman (’20), Candace Hayes (’19)
Back Row: Colin Welsh (’19), Xavier May (’17), Omar Stocks (’20)


MIR Lab Junior Researchers Bios


Xavier May ‘17

(Fall 2015 – Present)

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

Xavier is a senior Biochemistry & Molecular Biology major from Iowa City, Iowa. During his time at Rhodes, he has been a 4 year member of the Rhodes Football Team, Treasurer for the ONE campaign, and Emergency Department Scribe within the Methodist LeBonheur Healthcare System. Xavier enjoys uncovering various types of old music (mainly 90’s-2000’s hip-hop/ rap) and frequently finds himself playing video games. After Rhodes, Xavier plans on staying in Memphis while continuing working at Methodist. He is interested in getting a masters in either pharmacology or public health prior to applying to medical school.

Projects:

1. Development of Panobinostat Histone Deacetylase Inhibitor Derivatives for Cancer Therapy

2. Design and Development of Epitope Caps for the CTLD1 Domain of the PLA2R Antigen in Idiopathic Membranous Glomerulonephritis

Presentations:

1. AliReza Zaravar, Xavier May, Shana V. Stoddard Rational Design of Epitope Binding Monobodies: New Tools for Autoimmune Therapy. American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Annual National Meeting. Chicago, IL (April 2017)
 

2. Xavier May, Davita Watkins, Shana V. Stoddard. Identification of Molecular Interactions within Histone Deacetylase Isozymes for the Development of Potent HDAC2 Inhibitors for the Design of Targeted Cancer Therapies. American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Annual National Meeting. Chicago, IL (April 2017)
 

3. AliReza Zaravar, Xavier May, Shana V. Stoddard. Rational Design of Epitope Binding Nanobodies: New Tools for Autoimmune Therapy. 4th Annual Research Symposium, Rhodes College, Memphis, TN (2016)
 

4. Xavier May, Davita Watkins, Shana V. Stoddard. Molecular Considerations Leading to Inhibitor Specificity of Human Histone Deacetylase (HDAC): Tools for Selective HDAC Inhibitor Development. Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities Symposium, Rhodes College Memphis, TN (2016)
 

5. Xavier May, Davita Watkins, Shana V. Stoddard. Molecular Tools for the Development of Potent Selective HDAC inhibitors for the Design of Targeted Cancer Therapies. Undergraduate Research Symposium, Rhodes College, Memphis, TN (2016) (Oral)

AliReza Zaravar ‘18

(Spring 2016 – present)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AliReza Zaravar (Al) is am from Memphis, TN. He is a biology major and chemistry minor here at Rhodes College and plans on attending medical school in Memphis at the University of Tennessee College of Medicine. Some of Al’s hobbies include: traveling, playing sports competitively and recreationally (soccer, basketball, golf, surfing), attending Memphis Grizzlies basketball games, and volunteer tutoring at the Refugee Empowerment Program here in the Binghamton neighborhood in Memphis.

Project: Development of ySMB blocking monobodies for Idiopathic Membranous Nephropathy

Presentations:

1. AliReza Zaravar, Liam Goldman, and Shana V. Stoddard. Rational Design of ySMB and SH13 Epitope Binding Monobodies against the Phospholipase A2 Receptor: New Tools of Idiopathic Membranous Nephropathy. National Conference on Undergraduate Research. Memphis, TN (April 2017)
 

2. AliReza Zaravar, Xavier May, Shana V. Stoddard Rational Design of Epitope Binding Monobodies: New Tools for Autoimmune Therapy. American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Annual National Meeting. Chicago, IL (April 2017)
 

3. AliReza Zaravar and Shana V. Stoddard. Rational Design of ySMB Epitope Binding Monobodies against the Phospholipase A2 Receptor: New Tools of Idiopathic Membranous Nephropathy. Undergraduate Research Conference. Memphis, TN (February 2017) Selected as one of the Best Presenters!!!
 

4. AliReza Zaravar, Xavier May, Shana V. Stoddard. Rational Design of Epitope Binding Nanobodies: New Tools for Autoimmune Therapy. 4th Annual Research Symposium, Rhodes College, Memphis, TN (2016)

Liam Goldman ‘20

(Fall 2016 – present)

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

Liam Goldman is first year student from Columbus, Georgia at Rhodes who plans on majoring in Neuroscience with a minor in Chinese Studies. When he is not busy with classwork, Liam enjoys whitewater kayaking, hiking and rock climbing. After graduating Rhodes College Liam wants to attend Medical School where he wants to pursue an M.D and P.H.D.

Project: Design and Development of Epitope Caps for the CTLD7 Domain of the PLA2R Antigen in Idiopathic Membranous Glomerulonephritis

Presentations:

1. AliReza Zaravar, Liam Goldman, and Shana V. Stoddard. Rational Design of ySMB and SH13 Epitope Binding Monobodies against the Phospholipase A2 Receptor: New Tools of Idiopathic Membranous Nephropathy. National Conference on Undergraduate Research. Memphis, TN (April 2017)

Candace Hayes ‘19

(Fall 2016 – present)

Candace Hayes is from Lenexa, Kansas, a suburb of Kansas City. Her major is Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and she intends to minor in Urban and Community Health. Candace enjoys watching documentaries and films, creating videography and graphic design projects and volunteering. After graduation from Rhodes College, Candace hopes to attend medical school and eventually become an OB/GYN due to her interest in reproductive medicine and reproductive rights. She also intends on participating in Doctors without Borders sometime within her career. Candace is currently a Resident Assistant for Rhodes College, Philanthropy Chair for the Kappa Beta chapter of Chi Omega, Secretary for Rhodes Medical Spanish Club and St. Jude's Summer International Fellow.

Projects:

1. Design and Development of Epitope Caps for the CTLD1 Domain of the PLA2R Antigen in Idiopathic Membranous Glomerulonephritis
 

2. Development of Vorinostat and Panobinostat Histone Deacetylase Inhibitors Derivatives Containing Boron for Cancer Therapy

Omar Stocks ‘20

(Spring 2017 – present)

Omar Stocks is from Houston, Texas. He plans to major in Chemistry or Biology. Omar is enthusiastic about sports which is why he enjoys playing ultimate frisbee and pickup basketball; however, Omar also enjoys playing the piano. After Rhodes Omar plans on going to medical school back in Texas and becoming a surgeon.

Project: Design and Development of Epitope Caps for the CTLD7 Domain of the PLA2R Antigen in Idiopathic Membranous Glomerulonephritis

Colin Welsh ‘19

(Spring 2017 – present)

Colin Welsh was born in Minnesota, but has spent much of his life living in Santa Barbara, California. His hobbies include sailing, hiking, camping, and video games. He is currently a sophomore at Rhodes, majoring in chemistry and minoring in computer science. Following graduation, Colin hopes to continue his education by studying chemistry in graduate school.

Project: Design and Development of Epitope Caps for the CTLD1 Domain of the PLA2R Antigen in Idiopathic Membranous Glomerulonephritis