Pharmacy scholar recognized for biotechnology research

Alexander Mankin

Alexander Mankin received a biotechnology award from the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy. UIC Photo Services (click on image for larger file size)

Biotechnology is the use of biological processes to manufacture products to improve the quality of human life.

But Alexander “Shura” Mankin, professor and director of the Center for Biopharmaceutical Technology in the College of Pharmacy, says it is that and much more.

“Biotechnology is about developing new technologies to understand the nature of diseases and drug discovery, as well as applying unorthodox approaches to basic research that will eventually feed the applied branches of pharmaceutical sciences,” Mankin says.

Mankin received the Paul R. Dawson Biotechnology Award from the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy Monday during the association’s annual meeting in Chicago.

The award recognizes an active scientist within pharmacy education who is a leader in the teaching of biotechnology and its related science.

Throughout his career, Mankin has performed extensive research on the functions of the ribosome and how it can be inhibited by drugs. His laboratory has established modes of action of several important classes of antibiotics.

“We’re working to discover how antibiotics bind to the ribosome, which is responsible for churning out all the proteins a cell needs for survival, and how they interfere with its function,” Mankin said. “We investigate mechanisms of drug resistance and are trying to develop new, superior antibiotics.”

Mankin is studying how the ribosome deals with the newly formed polypeptide, how drugs can affect this process, and how microbes can become resistant.

The Dawson Award, Mankin said, is for a team effort, recognizing the “excellent work of the members of his laboratory, whose support, efforts and contributions made this possible.”

“I was humbled when I learned I was nominated, and even more so when I learned that I received the award. I greatly appreciate the assistance of those in UIC’s College of Pharmacy who made this possible,” he said.

“I view this award as an indication of the success of UIC’s Center for Pharmaceutical Biotechnology, founded by Michael Johnson 20 years ago. The center has been extremely successful in its research, publications, attracting extramural funding and training students and postdoctoral students with its outstanding faculty.”

Mankin has published more than 100 papers in leading journals. His research has been supported by the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health and other funding agencies.

Jerry Bauman, dean of the UIC College of Pharmacy, said Mankin was “extremely deserving” of the prestigious award.

“Shura’s work in elucidating the mechanism of antibiotic action will pave new ways to consider the effective treatment of serious infections,” he said. “It is truly at the cutting edge of science.

“Shura is a wonderful leader in our college, not only leading by example, but also in mentoring young faculty for a career in pharmaceutical education and research. We are lucky to have him in our college.”

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