Degree: Ph.D. in Physics
College: School of Integrated Science and Humanity in the College of Arts, Sciences & Education
While the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the planet for more than a year, Rudramani Pokhrel and his fellow researchers at FIU were hard at work searching for an already FDA-approved drug that could hopefully stop the coronavirus in its tracks - or at least slow it down.
Using computer modeling, Rudramani and Prem Chapagain, a physics professor and associate director for FIU’s Biomolecular Sciences Institute, identified several drug candidates worthy of further investigation. His study was published in the journal J. Med Microbiology in 2020 and quickly garnered more than 23 citations.
Long before the pandemic was on anyone’s radar, Rudramani was battling antibiotic resistant illnesses. He studied a unique class of antimicrobial peptides — called lantibiotics — that represent a large, untapped pipeline of antibiotics. Along with Chapagain and Physics Professor Bernard Gerstman, they collaborated with Oragenics Inc., a company that develops lantibiotic peptides with unique properties that antibiotic-resistant bacteria cannot overcome.
Today, Rudramani is using similar methods to find and exploit weaknesses in cancer as a postdoctoral researcher at All Children's Hospital at Johns Hopkins University. Rudramani hopes that the combination of experiences he received at FIU — in physics, biology and chemistry — will one day help him stamp out cancer and cure other diseases.
By Chrystian Tejedor
College of Arts, Sciences & Education
Nominated by Prem Chapagain