Machavert welcomes Dennis R. Voelker as a member of Science Advisory Board

JAN 17, 2018 People

Dennis R. Voelker is Professor in the Department of Medicine and Director of Research, Pulmonary Division, National Jewish Health, Denver; and Professor, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics, Department of Pharmacology, Department of Medicine, University of Colorado School of Medicine, Denver, CO.

Dennis received his BS in Biological Sciences from Indiana University, and PhD in Biomedical Sciences from UT-Oak Ridge National Laboratory with Dr. Fred Snyder as his mentor. He performed postdoctoral research with Dr. Eugene P. Kennedy at Harvard Medical School. In 2018 he will receive the Avanti Award in Lipids for his research accomplishments. His research has focused upon multiple aspects of phospholipid biochemistry, molecular biology and genetics. A significant portion of his career has been dedicated to elucidating the mechanisms of inter-organelle phospholipid traffic and metabolism, using yeast genetics and molecular biology. Additional studies have focused upon elucidating the structural details of phospholipid-protein interactions, especially with the phospholipid constituents of pulmonary surfactant. Current topics being pursued in his laboratory include: 1) antagonism of innate immunity and respiratory viral infections by anionic phospholipids present in pulmonary surfactant, 2) application of lipids as inhibitors of viral infection and virus- induced exacerbations of chronic lung diseases, 3) development of high throughput screening strategies to target lipid metabolism in pathogens (bacteria, fungi and parasites) and neoplastic tissues for therapeutic purposes.

Dennis acts as our general science advisor regarding phospholipid function in cells, as well as design of new approaches employing phospholipids for the suppression of inflammatory processes and the inhibition of cancer cell growth. He is very enthusiastic about Machavert’s research program centered around phospholipid molecules that have been at the core of his entire research career. In addition to his focus on basic research issues, he has a keen interest in exploiting newly discovered activities of phospholipids to develop a new generation of pharmacologic agents for controlling inflammatory diseases such as Acute Respiratory Distress, and for suppressing infections and inflammatory sequelae from Respiratory Syncytial Virus, Influenza A Virus and Rhinovirus.

During our last scientific review Dennis stated: “ Machavert is closely following my own career path dealing with phospholipids, and has a chance to unlock the great potential of these molecules for treating inflammatory diseases and cancer.  The preclinical data of Machavert that I have seen makes me really excited and hopeful to develop a really different and unanticipated anti-cancer treatment in patients soon. I also believe that these advances may herald an era focused upon phospholipid based medicines and the targeting of phospholipid metabolism as new pharmacologic strategies.”   His enthusiasm makes us excited too and we are looking forward to a great collaboration with Dennis that can provide a deeper understanding of the roles of phospholipids living organisms.