Professor Robin Polt has been doing groundbreaking research since his undergraduate days in Dr. Martin O’Donnell’s lab at IUPUI, while doing his undergraduate work thanks to the GI Bill. There, he produced the first of the “O’Donnell Schiff bases” now standard undergraduate Organic Chemistry textbook methodology for producing unusual and unnatural amino acids. He was awarded an NSF Pre-Doctoral fellowship while at IUPUI and went on to earn his Ph.D. at Columbia University with Professor Gilbert J. Stork, one of the developers of the first oral contraceptives. He completed his training as a Post-Doctoral Fellow in the lab of Prof. Dieter Seebach at the ETH in Zürich, Switzerland before coming to the University of Arizona.
Dr. Polt has continued to develop novel synthetic methods for synthesis of amino acids, amino alcohols, glycosides and glycopeptides. Through these methods he has produced a number of pharmacologically active glycopeptides, alkaloid-like inhibitors of glycolipid processing enzymes and glycosyltransferases, as well as glycolipids with biological activity such as glycosphingolipids and rhamnolipids. He discovered a new class of glycosphingolipids in the insect Manduca sexta — biologically active sphingomyelins and glycosides derived from dienylsphingosine, and he has developed methods for their synthesis, as well as the synthesis of rhamnolipids from Pseudomonas aeruginosa. This research has served as the training ground of 20 Ph.D. students now well-established professionals in academia, industry, and government. as well as having ecent undergraduates have continued on to top-tier university programs.
His leading-edge work has been dedicated to carbohydrate chemistry (glycolipids & glycopeptides) at cell membranes, membrane trafficking, and using these insights to design glycopeptide drugs from endogenous peptide neurotransmitters (neuromodulators, hormones) with enhanced stability in vivo that are capable of penetrating the Blood-Brain Barrier.
Polt and partners have formed Teleport Pharmaceuticals in order to exploit this chemistry to produce centrally active drugs based on peptide neurotransmitters. Several companies have been founded based on glycopeptide IP discovered in Polt’s lab. Such parallel development shows the promise of Polt’s innovative technologies and materials in novel drug development.
Dr. John Streicher is a co-founder and equity partner at Teleport Pharmaceuticals, and an Assistant Professor at the University of Arizona. In his academic work, Dr. Streicher studies the signal transduction cascades downstream of important receptor systems in the brain, including the opioid receptors. He determines the molecular mechanisms of this signaling, which in turn can be used to design novel drug discovery strategies to create novel therapeutic drugs with enhanced efficacy and decreased side effects.
This expertise in the context of Teleport Pharmaceuticals is used to select receptor systems of therapeutic importance, provide important guidance in terms of the desired molecular profile of our drugs, and use cutting edge cell culture and animal model techniques to evaluate these drugs for their therapeutic impact and side effect profile. See full curriculum vita.
Dr. Michael Heien is co-founding partner at Teleport Pharmaceuticals, and an Associate Professor of Chemistry at the University of Arizona with his research informing analytic chemistry of neurotransmitters.