Li Niu

From left: Li Niu, Sabarinath Jayaseelan (graduate student), Dr. Zhen Huang (postdoctoral fellow), Hyojung Seo (undergraduate), Yan Han (graduate student), Joe Wang (graduate student), Dr. Jae Seon Park (front, postdoctoral fellow), Vurghun Ahmadov (back, graduate student) and Mohammad Qneibi (graduate student)

Dr. Li Niu, an Associate Professor of Chemistry, has recently received a 5-year, RO1 grant funding from National Institute of Health (NIH). This grant, totaling $1.49 million dollars, will support the research activity of his group for pursuing mechanistic studies of a group of small-molecule inhibitors designed to be potential drug candidates for a number of neurological disorders and diseases, such as stroke and Lou Gehrig’s disease (or ALS). The target of these inhibitors is the AMPA subtype of glutamate ion channel receptors, and these proteins are indispensible for brain activities such as memory and learning. Malfunction of these receptor proteins has been implicated in various neurological disorders and diseases, as those mentioned above.

Dr. Niu’s research group is using a laser-pulse photolysis technique to characterize the mechanism of receptor activation and regulation by these inhibitors in the microsecond-to-millisecond time scale. His group is also developing nanomolar affinity RNA inhibitors or aptamers as a new class of potential therapeutic agents.