Manglik named 2018 Pew Biomedical Scholar

Aashish Manglik, MD, PhD, the newest member of the faculty of the UCSF School of Pharmacy’s Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, was named a Pew Biomedical Scholar on June 14. The award supports early career faculty members who have demonstrated “outstanding promise as contributors in science relevant to human health,” and provides each awardee with $300,000 over four years to help them get their growing labs off the ground.


Aashish Manglik, MD, PhD

Manglik, who holds a joint appointment in the School of Medicine's Department of Anesthesia, earned his dual doctoral degrees in medicine and biophysics from Stanford University, where he studied the many functions of members of the largest family of cellular receptors, called G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs), in the lab of Brian Kobilka.

GPCRs are vital for signaling between and inside of cells, and problems with GPCRs and their associated signaling pathways can lead to a wide range of diseases, from retinitis pigmentosa, an eye condition affecting vision, to several types of cancer.

“GPCRs are classically thought to be a very rich family of drug targets,” says Manglik. “Drugs that affect these receptors allow us to control human physiology. Their importance is immediately apparent to any physician who has prescribed them in their practice.”

Before joining the UCSF faculty, Manglik co-authored a collaborative paper along with the lab of Brian Shoichet, PhD. That paper, published in Nature in 2016, detailed the discovery of a molecule that activates opioid receptors (which are GPCRs) without causing the side effects that are typical of most opioid medications.

Now, Manglik is refocusing his efforts on a different GPCR signaling pathway, known as Hedgehog. This pathway is best known for its role during embryonic development, but problems with Hedgehog signaling are also associated with many cancers.

“For someone who’s just starting out as a PI, this award is a great way to be surrounded by other young scientists who are really engaged and excited, and have diverse interests,” says Manglik. “That community of individuals provides an easy way to branch out from the science that is comfortable. It’s also nice to have even a modicum of support for venturing out into new territories.”


Pew Selects 22 Scientists to Investigate Fundamental Biomedical Questions (The Pew Charitable Trusts)

About the School: The UCSF School of Pharmacy is a premier graduate-level academic organization dedicated to improving health through precise therapeutics. It succeeds through innovative research, by educating PharmD health professional and PhD science students, and by caring for the therapeutics needs of patients while exploring innovative new models of patient care. The School was founded in 1872 as the first pharmacy school in the American West. It is an integral part of UC San Francisco, a leading university dedicated to promoting health worldwide.