Sadanandan Velu. Associate Professor
CHEM 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.

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. Research projects are mainly directed towards the discovery of anti-cancer and anti-infective agents. The lab's ongoing research projects are:

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

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.

Trypanosoma Cruzi DHFR inhibitors

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.

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.
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
  • Xu, S.; Nguyen, T.; Pomilio, I.; Vitale, M. C.; Velu, S. E. Total Synthesis of Calothrixins A and B via Oxidative Radical Reaction of Cyclohexenone with Aminophenanthridinedione. Tetrahedron 2014, 70(35), 5928-33.
  • Vayalil, P.K.; Oh, J.-Y.; Zhou, F.; Diers, A. R.; Smith, M. R.; Golzarian, H.; Oliver, P. G.; Smith, R. A. J.; Murphy, M.P.; Velu, S.E.; Landar, A. A Novel Class of Mitochondria-Targeted Soft Electrophiles Modifies Mitochondrial Proteins and Inhibits Mitochondrial Metabolism in Breast Cancer Cells through Redox Mechanisms. Plos One 2014.
  • Shim, E.-H.; Livi, C. B.; Rakheja, D.; Tan, J.; Benson, D.; Parekh, V.; Kho, E.-Y.; Ghosh, A.P.; Kirkman, R.; Velu, S. E.; Dutta, S.; Chenna, B.; Rea, S. L.; Mishur, R. J.; Li, Q.; Johnson-Pais, T. L.; Guo, L.; Bae, S.; Wei, S.; Block, K.; Sudarshan, S. L-2-Hydroxyglutarate: An Epigenetic Modifier and Putative Oncometabolite in Renal Cancer. Cancer Discovery 2014, 4(11), 1290-98.
  • Nijampatnam, B.; Nadkarni, D. H.; Wu, H.; Velu, S.E. Antibacterial and Antibiofilm Activities of Makaluvamine Analogs. Microorganisms 2014, 2(3), 128-39.
  • Nadkarni, D.H.; Murugesan, S.; Velu, S. E. "Total synthesis of zyzzyanones A-D. Tetrahedron 2013, 69(20), 4105-13.
  • Chen, D.; Wang, W.; Wang, M.-H.; Wang, H.; Murugesan, S.; Nadkarni, D. H.; Velu, S. E.; Zhang, R. The ZAK-MKK4-JNK-TGFβ Signaling Pathway Is a Molecular Target for Novel Synthetic Iminoquinone Analog BA-TPQ in Breast Cancer Cells. Current Cancer Drug Targets 2013, 13(6), 651-60.
  • Keeling, K.M.; Wang, D.; Dai, Y.; Murugesan, S.; Chenna, B.; Clark, J.; Belakhov, V.; Kandasamy, J.; Velu, S.E.; Baasov, T.; Bedwell, D.M. Attenuation of Nonsense-Mediated mRNA Decay Enhances In Vivo Nonsense Suppression. Plos One 2013, 8(4), e60478.
  • Nag, S.; Nadkarni, D. H.; Qin, J.-J.; Voruganti, S.; Nguyen, T.; Xu, S.; Wang, W.; Wang, H.; Velu, S. E.; Zhang, R. Anticancer Activity and Molecular Mechanisms of Action of Makaluvamines and Analogues. Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology 2012, 4(2), 69-81.
  • Zhang, X.; Xu, H.; Zhang, X.; Voruganti, S.; Murugesan, S.; Nadkarni, D. H.; Velu, S. E.; Wang, M.-H.; Wang, W.; Zhang, R. Preclinical Evaluation of Anticancer Efficacy and Pharmacological Properties of FBA-TPQ, a Novel Synthetic Makaluvamine Analog. Marine Drugs 2012, 10(5), 1138-55.
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)
Current Graduate Students:
  • Nirzari Guptha, MPharm: Development of therapeutic agents for dental caries.
  • Sonia Nijampatnam, BS: Development of therapeutic agents for dental caries.
  • Su Xu, MS: Anti-melanoma agents from natural products.
  • Shilpa Dutta, MS (Co-directed with Dr. Wayne Brouillette): Discovery of voltage gated sodium channel blockers.
Former Graduate Students:
  • Dwayaja H Nadkarni, PhD (2011), Thesis: “Syntheses of Marine Natural Products and their analogs as potential anticancer agents." Current Position: Research Executive, Unichem LTD.
  • Bala Chandra Chenna, PhD (2013), Thesis: “Identification of Staphylococcus Aureus Sortase a Inhibitors as Potential Antibacterial Agents.” Current Position: Postdoctoral Research Associate, Texas A&M University.
  • Thao Nguyen, PhD (2014), Thesis: “Design and syntheses of DHFR inhibitors as potential drugs against Trypanosoma cruzi And Streptococcus mutans.”
  • Sam Tanner, MS (2010)
  • Travis Hicks, MS (2011)