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Dr. Zeljko Svedruzic

Principal Investigator
Faculty of Medicine, University of Rijeka
224 Kampor

Brief Biography:

2007 to 2010, joint appointment at: i) Laboratory for the Research of Neurodegenerative Diseases, Katholieke Universitet Leuven, Belgium and; ii) Neurodegenerative Diseases Drug Hunting Team, Eli Lilly Pharmaceutical Company. Project: Molecular pathophysiology of Alzheimer’s disease and inhibitors of intramembrane protease γ-secretase. Project Leader: Professor Bart de Strooper. (http://med.kuleuven.be/cme/subpage.html?section=laboratories&subsection=laboratory-for-the-research-of-neurodegenerative-diseases&en)

2003 to 2006; Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, Washington State University, USA. Project: DNA damage induced changes in DNA flexibility and DNA-nucleosome interaction. DNA repair in nuclear extracts. Project leader: Regents Professor Michael J. Smerdon. (http://www.wsu.edu/~smerdon/bio_mjs.html)

2002 and 1998-2000; Department of Chemistry, University of California, Santa Barbara in collaboration with a biopharmaceutical start-up company Epigenx. Project: Enzymology and inhibitors of mammalian and bacterial cytosine DNA methyltransferases. Project leader: Professor Norbert O. Reich. (http://www.chem.ucsb.edu/people/faculty/reich/)

2001. Department of Biochemistry, Duke University Medical Center, USA. Project: Enzymology of protein phosphatase CDC25B acting on Cdk2/CycA protein complex as the substrate (Cdk2= cycline dependent kinase 2; CycA= cyclin A). Project leader: Assistant Professor Johannes Rudolph.

Academic positions:

08/1993-04/1998, Ph.D. student at Department of Biochemistry, Oklahoma State University, USA. Thesis title: “Substrate Channeling between NAD(H) Dehydrogenases: Enzyme Kinetics, Protein-Protein Interaction, and Molecular Modeling Studies”. Mentor: Professor H. Olin Spivey (deceased).

09/1992-07/1993, Diploma thesis at Max-Planck Institut für Biochemie, Martinsried Bei München, Germany. Thesis title: “Purification of p17 protein; a component of Actin-Myosin complex from Dictyostelium discoideum”.

1988-1992, undergraduate student Faculty of Science and Mathematics, University of Zagreb, Croatia (http://www.pmf.unizg.hr/).


Research interests:

1. development of small-molecule mechanism-based  inhibitors of mammalian/human DNA methyltransferase Dnmt1. Specific mechanism of inhibition allows continual modifications to meet different pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic requirements.  IC50 values below 50 nM. 

2.small-molecule inhibitors of a membrane-imbedded protease γ-secretase; the key enzyme for production of toxic amyloid-β (Aβ) peptides in Alzheimer’s disease.

3. transient protein-protein interactions, numerical analysis of reaction kinetics, and thermodynamics of intermolecular interactions.

Any other information:

My research interests are in biochemistry and physical biochemistry (a.k.a. biophysics, biophysical chemistry). Favorite problems are mechanistic enzymology, design of enzyme inhibitors, enzyme kinetics, studies of macromolecular interactions, and medicinal chemistry. Different experimental challenges gave me opportunities to also gain research experience in molecular biology, cell biology, and organic chemistry.

     The aim of my research is description of disease pathophysiology at the molecular level and exploitation of the acquired insights in development of enzyme inhibitors. The enzyme inhibitors can be used at first as a tool in basic research or biotechnology, and ultimately in clinics for treatment of the related diseases. 

      I was fortunate to have opportunities to make contributions in search for answers to some of the key questions in the current biomolecular sciences, such as: i) DNA methylation and epigenetic regulation; ii) DNA repair and chromatin organization; iii) intra-membrane proteolysis and Alzheimer’s disease; iv) transient protein-protein interactions that control major metabolic pathways or cell cycle.


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