Dr. Aashish Manglik - 2017
Dr. Aashish Manglik is currently a Stanford Distinguished Fellow and Instructor of Molecular and Cellular Physiology at Stanford University School of Medicine. He has an independent position in which he has his own laboratory and funding, including an Early Independence Award from the NIH Director. Dr. Manglik has been recognized for his work on G protein-coupled receptor signaling and in in silico drug discovery. His work has elucidated the structural basis of opioid receptor function, thereby yielding insight into the mechanism of action of fundamental and widely used analgesics like morphine and codeine. Using these structures, he has pioneered the development of novel opioid analgesics, identified by in silico methods, which potentially possess reduced dose-limiting side effects. Dr. Manglik’s work has been published in more than twenty peer-reviewed articles, and he was a key contributor to the invention of the core technologies at a company he co-founded called Ab Initio Biotherapeutics. Dr. Manglik received his B.A. in Biology and Chemistry at Washington University in St. Louis, where he was awarded the Spector Prize for his outstanding academic and research achievements. At Stanford, he was awarded an American Heart Association Pre-doctoral Fellowship in 2012. In his research there, Dr. Manglik used biophysical techniques such as X-ray crystallography and NMR spectroscopy. Obtaining purified opioid receptors and subsequent crystal structures is a tremendous achievement and requires the very highest abilities and perseverance. These results also rely on the development of new tools to stabilize these challenging proteins. Several of his papers and patents describe the development and design of single domain antibodies (nanobodies) for different conformational states of the mu-opioid receptor. Dr. Manglik trained as an MD as well as a PhD, and his medical training allows him to cover a broad picture generated by the uncovering of these structures. For example, his most recent achievement, and work that he presented at INRC 2016, has been published in Nature. It describes the structure-based discovery of PZM21, an opioid with reduced side-effects in rodent models. This was a mammoth effort across the laboratories of prominent and well-reputed scientists and demonstrates not only Dr. Manglik’s ability to interact and collaborate with top researchers but also his breadth of knowledge. Dr. Manglik has presented many of his findings at meetings and universities in the US but also abroad, e.g. at the above mentioned INRC meeting in Bath (UK) in 2016. At the meeting in Bath, he gave a highly impressive talk on his work on the mu-opioid receptor structure and the discovery of PZM21. His engagement at this meeting attracted many INRC members and his creative attitude will certainly bring an excitement to INRC and encourage other young scientists working in related areas to become regular attendees.