UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN-MADISON
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MOLECULAR AND CELLULAR PHARMACOLOGY GRADUATE TRAINING PROGRAM Search: 
Photo of Avtar Roopra.

Faculty: Avtar Roopra, PhD

Dept: Associate Professor, Neuroscience
Contact: 5675 MSC
1300 University Ave
608-262-6930
asroopra@wisc.edu
Training Areas: Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology
Lab website: Click Here

Research Interests

The lab’s over-arching goal is to understand the epigenetic mechanisms behind transcriptional regulation and chromatin structure in mammals. A major focus is the study of mechanisms that regulate the expression of neuronal target genes. We have shown that the transcription factor NRSF recruits a number of chromatin modifying complexes that include histone deacetylases and methylases. Also, we have found that NRSF uses a metabolism-sensing co-repressor to repress expression of genes involved in nervous system function as well as tumor metastasis.

Based on these findings, we have been able to control genes important for the progression of epilepsy in vivo by the use of small molecule inhibitors of glycolysis. This treatment resulted in suppression of epileptogenesis in rodent models of epilepsy and our small molecule inhibitors of energy metabolism will be entering clinical trials for epilepsy in the coming months.

Many genes regulated by NRSF are implicated in metastasis. As such we are pursuing the possibility of controlling genes important for cancer progression using small molecule regulators of energy metabolism. These projects span both neuroscience and cancer biology and have generated compounds that can go into clinical trials for neurological disorders and metastasis prevention.

Selected Publications

(Find publications on PubMed)