Venkatram R. AtigaddaResearch Assistant Professor
Chemistry Building 250
(205) 996-2737

Research and Teaching Interests: Drug Design and Development

Office Hours: By appointment

  • BS, India, Pharmacy
  • MS, Auburn University, Medicinal Chemistry
  • PhD, Auburn University, Medicinal Chemistry
  • Post-doctoral fellowship, University of Alabama at Birmingham

I am originally from Hyderabad, a city located in southern part of India. After a BS degree in pharmacy I came to the US for graduate education at Auburn University. I obtained a PhD in medicinal chemistry from the Harrison School of Pharmacy, Auburn University. 

After my PhD, I came to UAB in pursuit of a post-doctoral fellowship. After completing my post-doctoral work, I accepted a research faculty position at UAB.

My primary training is in medicinal and organic chemistry with main focus on drug design and development. I have over 15 years of experience in organic synthesis and drug design. I have strong interest in the design and synthesis of different classes of compounds including retinoids, rexinoids, heterocyclic compounds and natural products. For the past 10 years, I have been involved in the design and development of novel rexinoids, retinoids, and their mechanistic studies. In the design of the new ligands, we employ different tools including macromolecular crystallography, Isothermal calorimetry (ITC), and Hydrogen-Deuterium exchange mass spectrometry (HDMS). These studies have resulted in the understanding of the key interactions between ligand, protein, and coactivator peptides.

My lab is instrumental in the development of some of the highly potent rexinoids, which target the retinoid X receptors (RXRs) selectively. Many of the rexinoids that I have developed were studied extensively for their anti-cancer activity in in-vivo animal models. These rexinoids act as chemopreventive agents and are highly effective in prevention of breast cancer. These agents are also orally bioavailable with attractive side effect profile and will prevent both ER-positive AND more aggressive ER-negative breast cancers. These rexinoids target initial phases of carcinogenesis and prevent progression of the premalignant cells to invasive disease, thereby reducing the risk of cancer. One of the rexinoid (UAB30) is currently undergoing phase I clinical evaluation. In addition some of the rexinoids that are developed in my lab are also effective in prevention and treatment of skin cancer and neuroblastoma. I have also designed and synthesized potential new drugs to treat viral infections such as influenza, anti-cancer agents that target DNA (alkylating agents) and nuclear receptors. Recently I have expanded my research interests into finding cure for the metabolic diseases such as diabetes, obesity, and cancers that are fueled by obesity.
  • CH 460/660/760 is a 3 credit, one-semester, biochemistry course. This course examines metabolic pathways and the enzymes which mediate catabolic and anabolic metabolism of carbohydrates, lipids, amino acids, and nucleic acids (but not RNA or DNA). A subtheme of this course is how metabolism relates to human nutrition and disease. This is the preferred course to take if you are interested in medicine, dentistry, optometry, or pharmacy.
  • CH 105: Chemistry 105 introduces students to chemical principles and prepare students for continued study in Chemistry 107, with special attention paid to relevance to chemistry in the life sciences. Fundamentals of chemistry and mathematics skills communicated through this course are essential to student success in more advanced chemistry and biology courses.
  • CH 107: Fundamental organic and biochemistry. This course covers concepts of organic chemistry and biochemistry. Emphasis on molecules involved in life processes.
  • Atigadda, V. R.; Xia, G.; Deshpande, A.; Lizhi, W.; Kedishvili, N. Y.; Smith, C. D..; Krontiras, H.; Bland, K. I.; Grubbs, C. J.; Brouillette, W. J.; Muccio, D. D. Conformationally Defined Rexinoids and Their Efficacy in the Prevention of Mammary Cancers.  J. Med. Chem. 2015, 58 (19), 7763-7774.
  • Waters, A. M.; Stewart, J. E.;  Atigadda, V. R.; Mrozcek-Musulman, E.; Muccio, D. D.; Grubbs, C. J.; Beierle, E. A. Pre-Clinical Evaluation of a Novel RXR Agonist for the Treatment of Neuroblastoma. Molecular Cancer Therapeutics. 2015, 14, 1559-1569; PMID: 25944918
  • Atigadda, V.; Xia, G.; Deshpande, A. ; Boerma, L.; Lobo Ruppert, S.; Grubbs, C.; Smith, C.; Brouillette, W.; Muccio, D. Methyl-Substitution of a Rexinoid Agonist Improves Potency and Reveals Site of Lipid Toxicity. J. Med. Chem. May 6, 2014, 57 (12), 5370-5380, PMCID: 4216212.
  • Vedell, P. T.; Townsend, R. R.; You, M.; Malone, J. P.; Grubbs, C. J.; Bland, K.I.; Muccio, D. D.; Atigadda, V. R.; Chen, Y.; Vignola, K.; Lubet, R. A. Global molecular changes in rat livers treated with RXR agonists: a comparison using transcriptomics and proteomics. Pharma Res Per. 2(6), 2014, e00074, doi: 10.1002/prp2.74
  • Deshpande, A.; Xia, G.; Boerma, J. L.; Vines, K.K.; Atigadda, V. R.; Ruppert, S.; Grubbs, C.J.; Moeinpour, F. L.; Smith, C. D.; Christov, K.; Brouillette, W. J.; Muccio, D. D. Methyl-substituted conformationally constrained rexinoid agonists for the Retinoid X Receptors demonstrate improved efficacy for cancer therapy and prevention. Bioorg. Med. Chem. 2014, 22, 178-185.
  • Whitworth, J. M.; Straughn, J. M. Jr; Atigadda, V. R.; Muccio, D. D.; Buchsbaum, D. J. The Use of Retinoids in Ovarian Cancer: A Review of the Literature. International Journal of Gynecological Cancer. February 2012, 22(2), 191–198.
  • Whitworth, J. M.; Londono-Joshi, A. I.; Sellers, J. C.; Oiver, P. J.; Muccio, D. D.; Atigadda, V. R.Straughn, J. M. Jr.; Buchsbaum, D. J. The impact of novel retinoids in combination with platinum chemotherapy on ovarian cancer cells. Gynecologic Oncology. 2012, 125 (1), 226-30.
  • American Chemical Society