The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

UI pharmacy professor receives $427,000 research grant

Professor Reza Nejadnik said his research will help create more efficient ways to develop protein-based drugs.
Contributed photo by Dr. Nejadnik

A University of Iowa professor received a $427,000 grant to research more efficient ways to manufacture certain drugs.

Reza Nejadnik, an associate professor in the UI’s College of Pharmacy, said he will use the grant money to further his research on protein behaviors, which could be used to improve the manufacturing process of various protein-based drugs.

Protein drugs, also known as protein therapeutics, can be used to treat a range of diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and cancer, Nejadnik said.

Nejadnik said he originally researched protein behaviors while working for a pharmaceutical company in Europe. However, he soon grew to want more freedom in his research endeavors and applied to work at the UI.

He was hired and began working at the university in December 2020. Since then, he has gathered preliminary data on protein behaviors and received the $427,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health to help him continue his research at a larger scale, he said.

Researching protein behaviors is important because of how delicate the process of manufacturing protein drugs can be, Nejadnik said. Protein molecules are very fragile and often will fail in the manufacturing process because of their instability.

Being able to predict how certain proteins will react throughout the drug development process will help reduce the number of failures along the way, Nejadnik said.

“We are developing a new method that helps us predict, in this particular case, the solution behavior of protein drugs,” Nejadnik said. “And by that, we are hoping that it will increase the efficiency of development and manufacturing processes.”

Because the field of protein therapeutics is growing, this research has the potential to have a great impact, especially in Iowa, Nejadnik said. 

“I think there is a lot of potential in the state of Iowa for really advancing biomanufacturing and research into the development and manufacturing work of proteins and protein drugs,” he said. “I’m hoping that in the next few years, we will tap into that.”

Nejadnik conducted his research at the UI with the help of graduate student Siddhanth Hejmady and postdoctoral scholar Yusra Rahman.

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Rahman said she joined Nejadnik’s lab in 2021 and learned a lot in her time working with him.

Jonathan Doorn, the chair of the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Experimental Therapeutics, said Nejadnik’s expertise in the field of protein drug research has the potential to create interdepartmental connections throughout campus.

“He really brings new, unique expertise to the department in a field that I think is really growing,” Doorn said. “He’s already created a lot of really wonderful collaborations within the department but then across campus, so that’s been really exciting to see that.”

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About the Contributor
Isabelle Foland
Isabelle Foland, News Editor
Isabelle Foland is a second-year student at the University of Iowa majoring in Journalism and Mass Communication and minoring in Spanish. She is a second-year news reporter at The Daily Iowan, reporting mainly on Iowa City City Council. She is from Missouri Valley, Iowa and has reported for her hometown paper prior to her time at The DI.