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A. Nelson Voldeng Memorial Lecture

"Learnings from the Development of Highly Selective Endothelin A Receptor Antagonists and Recent Insights into Integrin Modulators"

11:15 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Monday, May 23, 2016

Dr. Richard A.F. Dixon

Director, Drug Discovery Program, Texas Heart Institute, Houston, Texas

About Dr. Richard A.F. Dixon  

Dr. Dixon is Director of the Wafic Said Molecular Cardiology Research Laboratories, Texas Heart Institute, Houston, Texas. In his current role, he is involved in the discovery and development of small molecule, gene and cell therapies for heart, lung and vascular diseases in collaboration with Professor Ke-He Ruan, Ph.D., M.D., at the University of Houston College of Pharmacy.

Dr. Dixon’s department has a large medicinal chemistry group, which has successfully produced novel drug candidates. They are also involved in the production of noninvasive imaging agents, targeting atherosclerotic plaque. Over Dr. Dixon’s career, he has been involved in most aspects of medicinal chemistry, pharmaceutical and biotechnology research and development. Formerly, he was a Founder, Director, and CSO of Encysive Pharmaceuticals (ENCY). Prior to that, he held various management positions, including the head of the molecular biology department at Merck and Co (MSD).

He obtained a B.S. in Microbiology and Biochemistry from Texas A&M University, a Ph.D. in Virology from Baylor College of Medicine and conducted postdoctoral research at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in the laboratory of Dr. Daniel Nathans, the 1978 Nobel Laureate in Medicine.

Dr. Dixon’s basic research efforts focused on the integration of medicinal chemistry, molecular biology and pharmacology of intracellular signaling and cell trafficking. His research groups have produced more than 10 new chemical entities which have entered human testing, one of which has led to an approved drug (Thelin), and 2 of which were adhesion molecule antagonists. He has also been involved with several other NDA programs that have resulted in approved drugs including: Argatroban (at ENCY), Crixivan and Singulair (at MSD).

At THI, Dr. Dixon has successfully served as a Co-PI in a NIH Multiple Investigator grant (RC1 HL100807-02, PI: Ke-He Ruan) which resulted in several publications in high impact journals, such as Nature Communications and Circulation and patent with Dr. Ruan’s group in UH.

Past Lecturers (.pdf)

About A. Nelson Voldeng

A. Nelson Voldeng was Professor of Medicinal Chemistry at the University of Arkansas, College of Pharmacy from 1964 until lingering illness forced his retirement in 1986. Nelson was born and raised in the south-central Kansas town of Wellington. He earned both his B.S. in Pharmacy (1960) and his Ph.D. in Medicinal Chemistry (1964) at the University of Kansas. His dissertation advisor was the late Dr. Edward E. Smissman.

Nelson was well known for his efforts to encourage promising undergraduate pharmacy students to continue their education in graduate studies in the pharmaceutical sciences.  Numerous pharmacy students worked with him in his research laboratory and many of these students made presentation at MALTO meetings. Nelson’s research interest included the synthesis of novel, broad-spectrum penicillin derivatives and the synthesis of long-acting opiate analgesics derived from pentapeptides.

Nelson was one of the founding organizers of our MALTO organization. Since 1973, when MALTO held its first meeting, Nelson provided energetic leadership, and worked tirelessly to help bring the idea of an annual regional medicinal chemistry and pharmacognosy meeting to fruition. Until his death in 1987, Nelson continued to contribute his energies to ensure the successful growth of MALTO.

The MALTO faculty voted unanimously in 1987 to name the annual lecture by a visiting scientist the "A. Nelson Voldeng Memorial Lecture" in recognition of Nelson’s invaluable contributions to MALTO. The first A. Nelson Voldeng Memorial Lecture was presented on June 13, 1988, during the 15th Annual MALTO Meeting held at Auburn University. Dr. Wendel L. Nelson, Professor of Medicinal Chemistry at the University of Washington School of Pharmacy, who had been a fellow graduate student and long-standing friend of Voldeng, presented this inaugural lecture.

The MALTO faculty designed a special plague commemorating the A. Nelson Voldeng Memorial Lecture. This plaque and an honorarium are presented annually to the visiting scientist lecturer. A copy of the first plaque was presented by MALTO to Nelson’s wife, Mrs. Diana Voldeng of Little Rock, Arkansas.