Disease Mechanisms and Therapeutics

The multidisciplinary training area in Disease Mechanisms and Therapeutics provides cutting-edge training at the intersection between computation and experiments, to train you as part of our next generation of physicians and biomedical scientists. We facilitate discovery and development of chemical probes to study the pathophysiology of human diseases, aiming at new therapeutics and personalized medicine. We are a multidisciplinary training area in the PhD in Biomedical Sciences Program.

Faculty in the Disease Mechanisms and Therapeutics training area research all steps in the drug development process, including structure-based identification of drug targets, computer-aided drug design, rationale synthesis of small molecules, disease mechanisms, characterization of drug effects in cellular and animal models, and systems pharmacology predictions using multiscale mathematical models.

Our personalized curriculum has been designed for our diverse student body, to help you obtain rigorous training at the junction of computation and experimentation. 


Our Students

We welcome students from both traditional and nontraditional paths into the PhD program. Our students have undergraduate degrees in mathematics, physics, computer science, engineering, chemistry, biochemistry, biology, pharmacology, genetics, and many other subjects. If you come to us with a more biological background, you will have the opportunity to obtain rigorous training in biophysical, chemical, and computational approaches to biological research. If yours is a more technical background, you will be getting your first sustained exposure to biological research during your PhD training at the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. 

Students of our Disease Mechanisms and Therapeutics training area are widely published early in their academic and professional careers.

Our Directors & Faculty

Meet Our Co-Directors

Avner Schlessinger, PhD, is an Associate Professor of Pharmacological Sciences. The overall goal of Dr. Schlessinger’s lab is to improve and automate the drug discovery process by developing novel computational methods, and to apply these methods to characterize disease-related signaling and membrane proteins. His lab publishes in the areas of chemical biology, bioinformatics, and drug discovery, as well as in personalized medicine and pharmacogenomics. 

Michael Lazarus, PhD, is an Associate Professor of Pharmacological Sciences. The goal of Dr. Lazarus's lab is to understand enzymes involved in cellular proteostasis and metabolism through structural biology and chemical biology. The lab is interested in a range of human diseases that are affected by these pathways, from cancer to neurodegeneration to inborn errors of metabolism. The goal is to use structural biology to help develop novel chemical probes and potential therapeutics against enzymes involved in these pathways.

Meet Our Faculty

Meet the accomplished faculty members of the Disease Mechanisms and Therapeutics Training Area.

Our Learning Environment & Research Areas

Explore the many areas of research that our faculty and students are active in.

We provide an educational environment in Disease Mechanisms and Therapeutics that fosters all the training you need to discover and design new drug-like molecules that can modulate the function of biological systems.

You will gain a thorough understanding of drugs and drug targets under investigation using a variety of approaches ranging from structural, computational, molecular, and cell biology to biochemistry and synthetic chemistry. As a student in DMT, you also gain a deep understanding of biological systems and disease states through training that emphasizes a quantitative, predictive understanding of physiology, pharmacology, organ-level research, and animal studies.

Technology-based approaches we use in DMT research laboratories include: X-ray crystallography, NMR spectroscopy, electron microscopy, mass spectrometry, single-molecule imaging, chemical synthesis, proteomics, molecular modeling, bioinformatics, molecular dynamics simulations, mathematical modeling, next generation sequencing, cheminformatics, virtual screening, and other rational drug discovery methods.

After completing training in DMT, our graduates become leaders in academic laboratories, in the pharmaceutical and biotech industries, and with regulatory agencies.