Ara Abramyan PhD’14 Investigates Drug Addiction Prevention at National Institutes of Health

Written by Jenna Pizzi
Published on January 25, 2017

With the number of people dying from drug overdoses reaching record highs in the last few years, the medical community and the government alike are searching for ways to end the epidemic.

Ara AbramyanAra Abramyan PhD’14, a postdoctoral research fellow at National Institutes of Health (NIH), is part of a team at the National Institute on Drug Abuse investigating the molecular mechanisms of psychostimulants, such as cocaine, methamphetamine, and others.

“In close collaboration with medicinal chemists and pharmacologists, we use molecular simulations to understand at the atomic-level, how cocaine binds to its target, the dopamine transporter. We are also working to develop antagonists for treatment of psychostimulant abuse,” said Dr. Abramyan.

Dr. Abramyan credits his success to the personalized experience he received in USciences Biochemistry PhD Program and the breadth of knowledge he gained from the faculty in the chemistry and biochemistry department.

“I’d sought to both learn computational chemistry, but also to broaden my chemistry and biochemistry expertise,” said Dr. Abramyan. “Working with the strong faculty in the chemistry department, I was able to expand my expertise, which comes in handy working with other chemists on my team at NIH.”

Dr. Abramyan came to USciences after receiving a pharmacy degree from the First Moscow State Medical University in Russia and continuing his education earning a master’s degree in drug discovery from University College London, University of London.

Dr. Abramyan said he chose USciences from a short list of schools after receiving a prompt and robust response from Vojislava Pophristic, PhD, professor and chair of the department of chemistry and biochemistry.

Once beginning at USciences, Dr. Abramyan was pleased by the small class sizes and the close collaboration with professors, post-doctoral fellows, and other graduate students. He began research with Dr. Pophristic, entitled, “Computational investigation of aromatic oligoamide foldamers.” Dr. Abramyan was one of five U.S. recipients of the highly competitive American Chemical Society Chemical Computing Group Excellence Award for Graduate Students for his work.

Dr. Abramyan said he hopes to continue working in scientific research, either in academia or industry. He said a love for teaching, which he fostered as a graduate instructor at USciences, has him hoping he will be able to pass along his knowledge in the classroom in the future.

“Wherever I end up, I’d like to continue helping people,” said Dr. Abramyan.


Categories: Feature Story, Proven Everywhere, Profiles, Alumni, Misher College, Department of Chemistry, Biochemistry

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