Assistant Professor - Chemistry
Academic degrees achieved: Chemistry Honors, Royal Society of Chemistry (Institute of Chemistry, Sri Lanka), Sri Lanka; B.Sc. Chemistry Honors, University of Colombo, Faculty of Science, Colombo, Sri Lanka; Post-Doctoral Research Scientist, Columbia University, Department of Chemistry & Genome Center, New York; Ph.D. in (Organic Chemistry), The City University of New York, New York
HONORS AND AWARDS
- 2009 - Travel Grant, Gordon Research Conference (GRC) selected presenter, New Hampshire
- 2003 - Recognized in The Indicator (ACS, June 2003), for being a panelist at the “Graduate School Reality Check Workshop” ACS 222nd National Meeting
- 2002 - Wiley Publishers - Travel Fellowship, selected participant in “Chemistry Focus Group” discussions on teaching and designing text books for chemistry teachers, ACS 224th National Meeting, Boston, MA
- 2001 - Recognized in Chemical and Engineering News (September 10, 2001, page 41) for the oral presentation in the professional relationships section, 222nd ACS National Meeting, Chicago, IL
- 2001 - National Science Foundation - Travel Fellowship, selected participant in “Academic Careers in Chemistry" workshop, Eastern Analytical Symposium, Atlantic City, NJ
- 2001 - Preparing Future Faculty Program (PFF) - Full Fellowship, selected participant in PFF National meeting, Colorado
- 2001-2003 - Preparing Future Faculty Program (PFF) - Travel & Full Fellowship, selected participant in research presentations, ACS National Meetings
- 2001 - 2003 - Writing Fellowship, Writing Across the Curriculum Initiative City University of New York, (one of the five selected from Queens College, City University of New York)
- Visited science classes in the division of Math & Natural Sciences as a guest speaker to teach various aspects of writing scientific papers, reports, abstracts and research articles
- Facilitated writing workshops and “Queens College Writers at Work” events for faculty and students
- 2000-2004 - Graduate Center of the City University of New York - Travel Fellowship, selected participant in research presentations, ACS National meetings
- 1998-2000 - Graduate Teaching Fellowship, University Fellowship, University Tuition Scholarship, City University of New York, NY (two awarded in the Chemistry department)
- 1997 - University of Brussels, Belgium - Fellowship, selected participant in the molecular biology workshop, University of Ruhuna, Sri Lanka
- 1993 - Merit award, second best overall performance, Royal Society of Chemistry, Graduate examination of the Institute of Chemistry Sri Lanka
I have experience in conducting research in Organic, Bioorganic, Medicinal and Biochemistry. My research interests are developing biologically important small molecules as potential therapeutics.
At Stevens (Tenure-Track Assistant Prof), the main thrust of my independent research program was in developing potential therapeutics for treating cancer. To ascertain the pharmacological activities of the compounds I had synthesized, I collaborated with research groups at Harvard Medical School and Memorial Sloane Kettering Cancer Center. Several undergraduates also made significant contributions to this synthetic project; in fact, I have mentored approximately thirty undergraduates, graduates, and postdoctoral researchers.
At Columbia University, NY I participated in synthetic and bioorganic studies on age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and my approach was to design and synthesize antigen molecules to generate antibodies for the detection of disease-related compounds with the aim of finding effective remedies. My doctoral research was designing novel phenanthroline derivatives as DNA intercalators, and into structure-activity relationships of Protein Kinase C (PKC) inhibitors as potential drug candidates. Using new methodology I developed, a series of novel quinoline analogs were synthesized. These compounds have shown outstanding potency as PKC inhibitors. During my graduate studies, I also worked at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center with Dr. Christopher Borella on developing concise synthetic routes for the asymmetric synthesis of actinonin analogs in the treatment of cancer .
INDEPENDENT RESEARCH EXPERIENCE
August 2008 - August 2013 Research accomplishments at Stevens Institute of Technology, Hoboken, NJ (Tenure-track Assistant Professor)
Grant Funding: Stevens Institute of Technology start-up grants-$400,000
• Designed and synthesized potential anticancer agents as new therapeutics in drug-discovery.
• Synthesized a library of 24 novel Histone Deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitors which were demonstrated to be highly selective and exceptionally active even at picomolar concentration.
• These compounds were drastically different from currently available HDAC inhibitors used as anti- cancer agents.
• These selective inhibitors would be more effective as chemotherapeutic agents with less side effects.
• Synthesized a group of novel Peptide Deformylase (PDF) inhibitors.
• These compounds demonstrated a greater potency than the gold-standard natural product.
actinonin, consider as the best available PDF inhibitor for cancer therapy.
• Developed active and selective HDAC and PDF lead compounds as potential anticancer agents
• Submitted a patent application for the newly synthesized library of HDAC inhibitors.
• Developed a “one-pot efficient synthesis of benzimidazoles.
Collaborators for biological assay studies:
HADC Research: Dr. James Bradner,
Physician Scientist, Former President of the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical research
Previously worked at Harvard Medical School, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, MA
PDF Research: Dr. David A. Scheinberg, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York
RESEARCH EXPERIENCE (PRE & POST-DOCTORAL, UNDERGRADUATE)
October 2006-August 2008, Post Doctoral Research, Columbia University Genome Center, New York
• Developed new technologies in DNA sequencing for modern biology and medicine
• DNA sequencing by synthesis (SBS) using cleavable fluorescent nucleotides as
• Discovered an efficient synthesis for coupling millions of DNA onto micro-sized beads
February 2005- September 2006, Post Doctoral Research, Columbia University, Department of Chemistry, New York
• Synthetic and bioorganic studies of Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)
• Designed and synthesized retinal-based molecules as immunoconjugates to generate
antibodies specific for the disease-related compounds
• Key discoveries include the first antibody-based approach for the detection of disease-related compounds to find effective remedies
August 1998 - April 2004, Ph.D. (Organic Chemistry), City University of New York, New York
Doctoral Thesis: Synthesis and Characterization of Biologically Active Phenanthrolines, Quinolines and Related Materials
• Design and synthesis of novel phenanthroline derivatives for use as DNA intercalators
• Key synthetic discoveries include the first examples of an efficient and high-yield synthesis
of 4’,7’-phenanthrolino-5,6:5’6’-pyrazine (PPZ) and derivatives
• Synthesis and Structure-Activity Relationships (SAR) of anticancer agents based on
dequalinium diiodide analogs and study of their relative activities toward Protein Kinase C
• Established a facile synthesis and initiated computational studies to guide SAR
• Developed microwave-assisted synthesis of analogs difficult to prepare by conventional
2002 - 2003, Rockefeller Research Institute, Memorial Sloan- Kettering Cancer Center, New York
Designed and synthesized anti-cancer agents based on actinonin natural product
• Developed a concise synthetic route via multistep synthesis leading to the asymmetric synthesis of a variety of potent actinonin analogs as Peptide Deformylase (PDF) inhibitors a as anti-cancer agents
1. Abeywickrama, C.; Matsuda, H .; Jockusch, S.; Zhou, J.; Jang, Y. P.; Chen, Bi-X.; Itagaki, Y.; Turro, N. J.; Erlanger, B. F.; Nakanishi, K.; Sparrow, J. R. “Immunochemical Recognition of A2E, a Pigment in the Lipofuscin of Retinal Pigment Epithelial Cells,” Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. (PNAS), 2007, 104, 14610-14615.
2. Abeywickrama, C.; Baker, A. D.; Rotenberg, S. A. “Inhibition of Protein Kinase C by Dequalinium Analogues: Structure-Activity Studies on Head Group Variations,” Bioorg. Med. Chem., 2006, 14, 7796-7803.
3. Abeywickrama, C.; Baker, A. D. “Efficient Synthesis of 1,4,5,12-Tetraazatriphenylene and Derivatives,” J. Org. Chem., 2004, 69, 7741-7744.
4. Samarakkody, R. P.; Abeywickrama, C.; Yalegama, S. S. B. “Comparison of the Results of West-Gaeke Method with those of the Automated Pulse Fluorescent Method in the Determination of Ambient Sulphur Dioxide,” Proc. Sri Lanka Assoc. Advt. Sci. 1997, 53, 325.
5. Abeywickrama, C.; Bradner, J. E.; Paranal, R.; Ponnala, S.;, Kingman, A. K.; DeCarlo, C. “Development of Selective Histone Deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitors as potential anti-cancer agents” Manuscript in preparation.
6. Marma, M.; Abeywickrama, C.; Wu, J.; Kim, D; Li, Z.; Romu, A.; Shi, S.; Turro, N. J.; Ju, J. “3'-O-DTM-dNTPs as Reductively Cleavable Nucleotide Terminators: Synthesis and Incorporation Studies” Manuscript in preparation
7. Abeywickrama, C.; Ponnala, S.;, Kingman, A. K.; DeCarlo, C. “One pot efficient synthesis of Benzimidazoles from 2-nitro anilines”, Manuscript in preparation
C. Abeywickrama, J. E. Bradner,R. Paranal, S. Ponnala, A. K. Kingman, C. DeCarlo, “Development of Selective Histone Deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitors as potential anti-cancer agents, Nakanishi Symposium, Columbia
University, New York, USA, May 2013 (Oral)
C. Abeywickrama, S. Jockusch, J. Zhou, B. F. Erlanger, K. Nakanishi, N. J. Turro, J. R. Sparrow, “Immunological Approach to Age Related Macular Degeneration: Synthesis of Retinal-Based Molecules and Immunoconjugates Targeted Towards A2E, Gordon Research Conference (GRC), New Hampshire, USA, August 2009 (Poster)
C. Abeywickrama, A. D. Baker. “Synthesis and characterization of substituted 1,4,5,12-tetraazatriphenyles” ACS, 228th National Meeting, Anaheim, CA, USA, March 2004, ORGN-142 (Poster)
C. Abeywickrama , A. D. Baker. “An efficient synthesis of 1,4,5,12-tetraazatriphenylene and derivatives” ACS 228th National Meeting, Philadelphia, PA, USA, August 2004, ORGN-727 (Oral)
C. Abeywickrama, A. D. Baker, S. A. Rotenberg. “Synthesis and structure –activity relationship of dequalinium analogs” ACS, 225th National Meeting, New Orleans, LA, USA, March 2003, MEDI-095 (Poster)
C. Abeywickrama, A. D. Baker. “Synthesis of novel phenanthrolines and phthalocyanines” ACS, 227th National Meeting , New York, NY, USA, September 2003, ORGN-366 (Poster)
C. Abeywickrama, A. D. Baker, S. A. Rotenberg. “Inhibition of protein kinase C by dequalinium analogs” ACS, 223rd National Meeting, Orlando, FL, USA, April 2002, MEDI-201(Poster)
C. Abeywickrama, A. D. Baker, S. A. Rotenberg. “Protein kinase C inhibitors of dequalinium analogs: Structure-activity relationship” ACS, 224th National Meeting, Boston, MA, USA, August 2002, MEDI-114 (Poster)
C. Abeywickrama, T. C. Strekas, “Preparing Future Faculty (PFF) as an aid for an academic career” ACS, 222nd National Meeting, Chicago, IL, USA, August 2001, PROF-014 (Oral)
C. Abeywickrama, A. D. Baker, S. A. Rotenberg. “Inhibition of protein kinase C by dequalinium analogs” ACS, 222nd National Meeting, Chicago, IL, USA, August 2001, ORGN-461 (Poster)
C. Abeywickrama, A. D. Baker, S. A. Rotenberg. “Synthesis of dequalinium analogs and their relative activities toward protein kinase C. ACS, 221st National Meeting, San Diego, CA, USA, April 2001,ORGN-705(Oral)