Alex Makriyannis is the George Behrakis Chair of Pharmaceutical Biotechnology at Northeastern University, Boston, MA, and is the Founder and Director of the Center for Drug Discovery. He is a highly successful medicinal chemist and is well recognized nationally and internationally for his important contributions in endocannabinoid research. This relatively newly characterized biochemical system, where he played an important role in its discovery, regulates many physiological functions including pain, neuroprotection, addiction, immunomodulation and cognition. Over the past four decades, his laboratory has designed and synthesized some of the key pharmacological endocannabinoid probes that are widely used and serve as leads for the development of new medications. He has also made important contributions aimed at understanding the molecular basis of cannabinoid activity. He has been a creative pioneer in the field of chemical biology where he combined the use of medicinal chemistry, biochemistry, molecular biology and biophysics, his work is recognized for its high level of originality. Some of his compounds are in advanced preclinical trials for the treatment of metabolic disorders and liver function, neuropathic pain, addiction and neurodegenerative diseases.
The Agar group characterizes post-translational modifications of proteins and changes in protein, peptide, and lipid expression that occur during ALS, and then determines which of these changes have structural or toxic consequences. Because ALS begins with the death of a single type of cell, the motor neuron, we have developed numerous methods for the analysis of single cells by mass spectrometry. The Agar group specializes in mass spectrometry, including ultra-high mass resolution “top-down” mass spectrometry and mass spectrometry imaging methods, and has developed both analytical methods (“Matrix solution fixation” introduced by Agar YR 2007, automated funnel-skimmer dissociation, Karabacak 2008 and Cobb 2010, single-cell mass spectrometry imaging of mammalian cells, Agar YR 2010 and Boggio 2011) and computational tools (Karabacak 2008 introduced “Big Mascot” or Mascot TD database search engine, Li 2008 and 2010 introduce isotope calculator, a suite for mass spectrometry imaging applications is functional and to-be-submitted).
Prof. Agar is a joint appointment between the College of Science and the Bouvé College of Health Sciences.