Arkin to serve as department chair starting in 2021


The Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry is excited to announce the appointment of our new chair, Michelle Arkin, PhD. She will serve as the eleventh chair of the Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, effective January 4, 2021.

Arkin earned her PhD in chemistry at the California Institute of Technology and then held a Damon Runyon postdoctoral fellowship at Genentech. She was among the first scientists at Sunesis Pharmaceuticals, where she led the biology group for teams that developed potent inhibitors of protein-protein interactions, including interleukin-2/receptor and LFA-1/ICAM. One of these molecules, lifitegrast, is an approved drug for autoimmune dry eye (licensed to SARcode and developed by Shire). From 2005 to 2007, she was the associate director of cell biology at Sunesis and led the translational science team for the anticancer agent vosaroxin. Arkin has maintained her interest in biotech and has recently co-founded two drug-discovery companies.

The Arkin Lab develops innovative approaches to screen for chemical tools and drug leads, using biophysical approaches like fragment-based drug discovery and biological approaches including high-content imaging with primary cells and organisms. Their goal is to demonstrate ‘druggability’ of new target classes and to validate new targets for drug discovery. Areas of interest include protein-protein interactions, allosteric and scaffolding sites in enzymes, and orphan and neglected diseases. Arkin is co-director of the Small Molecule Discovery Center, a collaborative research facility with expertise in high-throughput screening and medicinal chemistry.

Arkin is a leader in the academic drug discovery community. She sits on the Joint Research Committee for the ATOM consortium and on the editorial board of several journals, including the Assay Guidance Manual, Royal Society of Chemistry Chemical Biology, and Current Protocols in Chemical Biology. Arkin is a Director of the Society for Laboratory Automation and Screening and President of the Academic Drug Discovery Consortium, whose goals are to build a worldwide scientific network; facilitate collaborations with academic, contract, and pharmaceutical labs; and support drug-discovery education.


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About the School: The UCSF School of Pharmacy aims to solve the most pressing health care problems and strives to ensure that each patient receives the safest, most effective treatments. Our discoveries seed the development of novel therapies, and our researchers consistently lead the nation in NIH funding. The School’s doctor of pharmacy (PharmD) degree program, with its unique emphasis on scientific thinking, prepares students to be critical thinkers and leaders in their field.