Sadanandan Velu.

Associate Professor
Chemistry Building 280
(205) 975-2478

Research and Teaching Interests: Organic/Medicinal Chemistry, Drug Discovery and Development, Anti-cancer and Anti-infective Agents, Structure Based Drug Design, Fragment based Drug Discovery,

In-Silico Virtual Screening, Directed Combinatorial Synthesis, Structure Activity Relationship (SAR) Studies, Lead Optimization, Solution Phase Parallel Synthesis, Synthesis of Marine Natural Products and their Analogs, Development of Synthetic Methodologies

Office Hours: By appointment


  • MSc, University of Calicut, India, Chemistry
  • PhD, University of Madras, India, Organic Synthesis

Dr. Velu did his postdoctoral research at the University of Alabama and at Clemson University. He joined the Medicinal Chemistry division of the Center for Biophysical Sciences and Engineering at UAB in 1997 and worked as a Staff Scientist through 2004. He also held a joined appointment in the Chemistry department as a Research Faculty during the period, 2002-2004. He joined the Chemistry department as an Assistant Professor in August of 2004 and was tenured and promoted to Associate Professor Rank in 2010.

Dr. Velu holds co-appointments as an Associate Scientist at the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center and the UAB Center for Clinical and Translational Sciences. His teaching responsibilities include both undergraduate and graduate level organic and medicinal chemistry courses in the department. His research interests are in organic/medicinal chemistry, drug discovery and development, anti-cancer and anti-infective agents, structure based drug design, fragment based drug discovery, in-silico virtual screening, directed combinatorial synthesis, structure activity relationship (SAR) studies, lead optimization, solution phase parallel synthesis, synthesis of marine natural products and their analogs, development of synthetic methodologies.

Download Curriculum Vitae

The main focus of Dr. Velu’s lab is drug discovery and development. Lab work force is mainly constituted of graduate students working towards their PhD degree, undergraduate students carrying out their senior / honors research, postdoctoral trainees and occasionally research assistants. The research projects are mainly directed towards the discovery of anti-cancer and anti-infective agents. The ongoing research projects are:

Marine Alkaloid Analogs for Breast Cancer Therapy

Marine Alkaloid Analogs for Breast Cancer Therapy

In spite of the recent advances in computational approaches for lead identification and drug discovery, natural products remain as an important source for novel anticancer agents. In addition, natural products provide drugs with unprecedented molecular structures and bioactivity that are often inaccessible by other methods, and provide templates for future drug design. Our laboratory has focused recent research on the development of novel marine natural products and their analogs for human breast cancer therapy.

Staphylococcus aureus Sortase A inhibitors

Staphylococcus aureus Sortase A inhibitors

As bacterial pathogens develop resistance to conventional antibiotics, inhibition of bacterial surface protein display offers a novel strategy against S. aureus bacterial infections. By interrupting bacterial adherence, the initial step in the pathogenesis of bacterial infections, S. aureus will be poorly equipped to cause the disease and may be more effectively cleared by host innate immune defenses and/or by antibiotics. We hypothesize that the inhibitors of the surface enzyme, sortase will render S. aureus non-adherent and consequently less virulent.

Voltage Gated Sodium Channel Blockers

The ability to prevent or slow down metastasis would represent a major breakthrough in cancer therapy and dramatically improve life expectancies of cancer patients. Fortunately, our increasing understanding of the metastatic process has recently resulted in the discovery of new potential drug targets to prevent / slow metastasis. One such target is the voltage-Gated Sodium Channels (VGSC). This project is directed towards targeting VGSCs for developing drugs that prevent / slow down breast and prostate cancer metastasis.

Trypanosoma Cruzi DHFR inhibitors

velu research 3

Chagas disease is caused by the protozoan parasite Trypanosoma cruzi (T. cruzi). Since the dihydrofolate reductase (DHFR) activity of T. cruzi (TcDHFR) is essential for the parasite, it represents a potential target for the rational drug design for Chagas disease. In order to facilitate the design of selective inhibitors of TcDHFR we have initiated a structure based drug design using the X-ray crystal structure of T. cruzi DHFR. Subtle differences in the active sites of TcDHFR and hDHFR are taken in to consideration in order to design more selective and potent inhibitors of TcDHFR.

Dr. Velu teaches both undergraduate and graduate level courses in the Chemistry department of UAB. The main focus of his teaching is in the areas of Organic Chemistry, Natural Products, Medicinal Chemistry and Drug Discovery. The following is the listing of all courses currently offered by Dr. Velu.

Undergraduate Courses

  • CH 235: Organic Chemistry I
  • CH-237: Organic Chemistry II

Graduate Courses

  • CH 701: Foundations of Organic and Inorganic Chemistry
  • CH 772: Chemistry of Natural Products
  • CH 732: Organic Reactions and Synthesis
  • McDonald JW,Miller JE, Kim M, Velu SE, An expedient synthesis of murrayaquinone A via a novel oxidative free radical reaction, Tetrahedron Letters, 2018, 59, 550-553. PubMed PMID: 29736091, PubMed PMCID: PMC5935454, DOI: 10.1016/j.tetlet.2018.01.007.
  • Nijampatnam B, Zhang H, Cai X, Michalek SM, Wu H and Velu SE, Inhibition of Streptococcus mutans Biofilms by the Natural Stilbene Piceatannol Through the Inhibition of Glucosyltransferases, ACS Omega, 2018, 3 (7), pp 8378–8385. PubMed PMID: 30087944, PubMedPMCID: PMC6072251, DOI: 10.1021/acsomega.8b00367.
  • Dutta S, Tanner S, Gradek F, Driffort V, Roger S, Selander K, Velu SE (Co-corresponding author), Wayne Brouillette, Discovery and Evaluation of nNav1.5 Sodium Channel Blockers with Potent Cell Invasion Inhibitory Activity in Breast Cancer Cells, Bioorg. Med. Chem., 2018, 26, 2428-2436. PubMed PMID: 29673714, PubMed PMCID: PMC5935567, DOI:
  • Shelar SB, Shim E-H, Brinkley GJ, Kundu A, Carobbio F, Poston T, Tan J, Parekh V, Benson D, Crossman DK, Buckhaults PJ, Rakheja D, Kirkman R, Sato Y, Ogawa S, Dutta S, Velu SE, Emberley E, Pan A, Chen J, Huang T, Absher D, Becker A, Kunick C, Sudarshan, S, Biochemical and Epigenetic Insights into L-2-Hydroxyglutarate, a Potential Therapeutic Target in Renal Cancer, Clinical Cancer Research, 2018, IN PRESS, DOI: 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-18-1727.
  • Wang W, Qin J-J, Voruganti S, Nijampatnam B, Velu SE, Ruan K-H, Hu M, Zhou J, Zhang R, Discovery and Characterization of Dual Inhibitors of MDM2 and NFAT1 for Pancreatic Cancer Therapy, Cancer Research, 2018, IN PRESS, DOI: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-17-3939.
  • Xue B,Wang W, Qin JJ, Nijampatnam B, Murugesan S, Kozlovskaya V, Zhang R, Velu SE, and Kharlampieva E, Highly efficient delivery of potent anticancer iminoquinone derivative by multilayer hydrogel cubes, Acta Biomater, 2017, 58, 386-398. PubMed PMID: 28583901, PubMed PMCID: PMC5736006, DOI: 10.1016/j.actbio.2017.06.004.
  • Zhang Q, Nijampatnam B, Hua Z, Nguyen T, Zou J, Cai X, Michalek SM, Velu SE and Wu H, Structure-Based Discovery of Small Molecule Inhibitors of Cariogenic Virulence. Sci Rep, 2017, 7, 5974. PubMed PMID: 28729722, PubMed PMCID: PMC5519559, DOI: 10.1038/s41598-017-06168-1.
  • Nijampatnam B, Casals L, Zheng R, Wu H, Velu SE, Hydroxychalcone inhibitors of Streptococcus mutans glucosyl transferases and biofilms as potential anticaries agents, Bioorg. Med. Chem. Lett., 2016, 26, 3508-3513. PubMed PMID: 27371109, PubMed PMCID: PMC5207028, DOI: 10.1016/j.bmcl.2016.06.033.
  • Xu S, Nijampatnam B, Dutta S, Velu SE, Cyanobacterial Metabolite Calothrixins: Recent Advances in the Synthesis and Biological Evaluation, Marine Drugs, 2016, 14, 1-21. PubMed PMID: 26771620, PubMed PMCID: PMC4728514, DOI: 10.3390/md14010017.

We are located in the Labs 137 and 143 on the first floor of Chemistry building which is located at 901 14th Street South on UAB campus, near the UAB Green. The main focus of the lab is drug discovery and development. The lab's workforce is mainly constituted of graduate students working towards their PhDs, undergraduate students carrying out their senior/honors research, postdoctoral trainees, and occasionally research assistants. The research projects are mainly directed towards the discovery of anti-cancer and anti-infective agents. There are also a few other drug discovery projects that we are currently working on. Ongoing research projects are listed below:

  • Discovery and development of anti-breast cancer agents from marine alkaloids
  • Discovery of inhibitors of Staphylococcus aureus Sortase A
  • Structure-based design of inhibitors of Trypanosoma Cruzi Dihydrofolate Reductase
  • Voltage-gated sodium channel n=blockers for preventing cancer metastasis
  • Synthesis of novel mitochondrially targeted antioxidant therapeutics

The students who work on these projects will be trained broadly in the areas of medicinal chemistry and organic chemistry, specifically in Organic Synthesis, Compound Purification, Compound Characterization, Spectroscopy (NMR. MS, IR, UV, Fluorescence), Structure Based and Fragment Based Drug discovery, Molecular Modeling, In-Silico Virtual Screening, Lead Identification, Structure Activity Relationship Studies, Lead Optimization, In Vitro Enzymatic Assays, and Cell based Assays.


Graduate Students

Edwin Rojas, BS
BS from the University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT
Lab: CHEM 143
Phone: (205) 996-4194
Email: email
Project: Development of therapeutic agents for dental caries.

Geethika Prasannakumar, MS
MS from Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani, Rajasthan, India
Lab: CHEM 137
Phone: (205) 996-4194
Email: email
Project: Targeting bacterial virulence for the development of antibacterial agents.

Jaden Cowan, BS
The University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL
Lab: CHEM 143
Phone: (205) 996-4194
Email: email
Project: Marine alkaloid analogs for melanoma therapy.

Parmanand Ahirwar, MS
MS from Indian Institute of Science, Powai, Mumbai, India
Lab: CHEM 143
Phone: (205) 996-4194
Email: email
Project: Development of therapeutic agents for dental caries.

Undergraduate Students

Chase Thigpen
Lab: CHEM 143
Phone: (205) 996-4194
Email: email

Tristan Boling
Lab: CHEM 143
Phone: (205) 996-4194
Email: email

Ashley Hester
Lab: CHEM 137
Phone: (205) 996-4194
Email: email

Former Graduate Students

Sonia Nijampatnam, PhD, Graduated: 2017
PhD Thesis: “Development of small molecule inhibitors of S. mutans glucosyltransferases for the prevention of dental caries”
Current Position: Research Project Manager, Ely Lilly, Indianapolis, IN.

Shilpa Dutta, PhD, Graduated: 2016
(Co-directed with Dr. Wayne Brouillette)
PhD Thesis: “Targeting voltage-gated sodium channels for prevention of breast cancer metastasis”
Current position: Postdoctoral Fellow, Southern Research, Birmingham, AL.

Thao Nguyen, PhD, Graduated: 2014
PhD Thesis: “Design and syntheses of DHFR inhibitors as potential drugs against Trypanosoma cruzi and Streptococcus mutans”
Current position: Forensic Scientist, Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences.

Bala Chandra Chenna, PhD, Graduated: 2013
PhD Thesis: “Identification of Staphylococcus aureus sortase A inhibitors as potential antibacterial agents”
Current position: Assistant Research Scientist, Texas A&M University, College station, TX.

Dwayaja H Nadkarni, PhD, Graduated: 2011
PhD Thesis: “Syntheses of marine natural products and their analogs as potential anticancer agents”
Current position: Senior Scientist, Huntsman International Private Limited, Mumbai, India.

Jeffrey McDonald, MS, Graduated: 2017

Su Xu, MS, Graduated: 2016

Travis Hicks, MS, Graduated: 2011

Sam Tanner, MS, Graduated: 2010

Former Postdocs

Bidhan A. Shinkre, PhD
Current Position: Team Leader, Synthesis Support Group, Syngenta Biosciences Pvt. Ltd., Bangaluru. India.

Srinivasan Murugesan, PhD
Current Position: Research Scientist, Syngene International, Bangaluru. India.

Syam Gandavaram, PhD
Current Position: Assistant Professor, Department of Chemistry, Sree Vidyanikethan Engineering College, Tirupati, India

Academic distinctions:
  • Award for Excellence in Teaching: In 2006, Dr. Velu’s undergraduate organic chemistry course was identified as an example of Best Practices in a National Study of Chemistry courses conducted by the Center for Educational Policy Research (CEPR) on behalf of the College Board.
Professional Societies:
  • Society Affiliations and Memberships
  • American Association of Cancer Research (AACR)
  • Society of Clinical and Translational Science (SCTS)
  • American Chemical Society (ACS)
  • American Heart Association (AHA)
UAB Affiliations and Co-appointments:
  • Associate Scientist, Comprehensive Cancer Center (CCC-UAB)
  • Faculty, Cystic Fibrosis Research Center (CFRC-UAB)
  • Faculty, Graduate Biomedical Sciences (GBS)
  • Member, Center for Biophysical Sciences and Engineering (CBSE-UAB)
  • Member, Center for Free Radical Biology (CFRB-UAB)
  • Member, Lung Health Center (LHL-UAB)