Laboratory productivity has greatly increased since pharmacodynamics professor Daohong Zhou, M.D., and his closest collaborator, medicinal chemist Guangrong Zheng, Ph.D., relocated to the University of Florida from Arkansas in 2018. Located in two separate buildings at their previous university, they now work hand in hand, developing and testing compounds almost as one lab. “Now that we are in one space, in one lab, the work is more seamless and there is more synergy,” Zhou said.
Zhou has a unique drug discovery perspective, as he works in both the College of Pharmacy, as a pharmacodynamics professor, and the College of Medicine, as a professor of radiation oncology. I enjoy working in both environments because it allows me to bridge drug discovery to clinical application, he said.” I am able to know the clinical needs and learn how to address them.”
Some of his current research looks into the study of B-cell lymphoma-extra large, or Bcl-xL, a protein that promotes cancer growth, but is also essential for blood platelet survival. For years, researchers have tried targeting this protein to kill cancer cells, but inhibiting it also kills platelets, leading to thrombocytopenia, which can potentially cause hemorrhaging. Zhou and Zheng, along with their student researchers, are developing and testing compounds and planning a strategy to overcome this hurdle. “Our lab has taken advantage of the large and high-quality student body here, which was another reason I was attracted to UF,” Zhou said. “But more than anything, the vision and diversity of the college pushing us to be Top 5 makes you feel so excited to work at such a fast-moving place.”