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From Boyhood Blow-ups to Biochemistry and Designer Drugs

Part of what makes it possible for physicians to treat patients is the work of the basic scientists whose study at the molecular level gives rise to life-improving and occasionally, life extending drugs.

The “bench” work of lab scientists is fascinating but not for the faint of heart. Untangling the mystery of biochemical processes and harnessing that knowledge to develop novel medications to treat disease can take decades and often ends in failure.

But not always.

Recently, Vern Schramm, professor and chair of biochemistry at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, spoke about how experiments with homemade gunpowder in his boyhood home of North Dakota led to a successful career designing the building blocks of drugs that may save lives.

Dr. Schramm’s research focuses on transition state analogues – chemical structures that imitate the transition state of a molecule that an enzyme acts upon. His work has important implications for a wide range of diseases such as T-cell leukemia, gout, malaria and autoimmune disorders.

In this video Dr. Schramm talks with Gordon Earle, associate dean for communications and public affairs, about the possibilities and realities in this exciting field.

Which area of biomedical research do you think holds the most promise for future drug design? Tell us in our comments section below.

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