PhD, Brown University, Providence, RI
MS, Duke University, Durham, NC
AB, College of the Holy Cross, Worcester, MA
Area(s) of Expertise
Medicinal Chemistry and Chemical Technology
Prof. Pollastri’s primary research focus is on discovery of new therapeutics for neglected tropical diseases, using a “parachute” or “repurposing” approach. In this approach, he identifies parasitic targets of importance that have been previously biochemically validated, with a further focus on those targets with human homologs that have been pursued in human drug discovery. Prof. Pollastri’s lab then prepare known ligands previously reported against the human homolog for assessment against the parasite target, and then pursue an optimization program from that starting point. His lab’s first project is focused on trypanosomal phosphodiesterases, enzymes that have ~30% homology to human PDE4 and 5. Other projects focus on trypansomal TOR, Aurora kinases, dihydrofolate reductase, and HDACs.
Prof. Pollastri’s secondary area of focus is on chemical technologies. Projects in this category include diversification of lead compounds using reaction screening approaches, applications of flow chemistry, and Green Chemistry.
417 Egan Research Center
Chemistry doctoral student Dana Klug makes possible drug options the way a chef makes a gourmet dish—adding an atom of hydrogen here, removing an atom of nitrogen there—to stop a deadly parasite in its tracks.
The neglected tropical disease affects thousands of people and is mostly fatal. Now, new research co-authored by Northeastern chemistry professor Michael Pollastri has identified hundreds of compounds that could lead to a cure.
During a keynote address at Northeastern on Tuesday, an epidemiologist at Boston Medical Center who has administered care to Ebola patients in Sierra Leone, noted that more help is needed in Africa to provide healthcare services, adding that “We need help with everything.”