Dr. Siahaan is the Aya & Takeru Higuchi Distinguished Professor and Associate Chair of the Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, The University of Kansas. He earned his Ph.D. degree in Organic Chemistry from the University of Arizona in 1986 to study carbanion chemistry. He did postdoctoral research at UC Santa Barbara in the area of total synthesis of a natural product antibiotic that has a cyclic peptide alkaloid structure. Then, he moved to La Jolla Cancer Research Foundation from 1987–1989 (currently Burnham Institute), working to design cyclic RGD peptides and peptidomimetics as inhibitors of cell adhesion during tumor metastasis and thrombosis. Following that, he joined Sterling Winthrop Pharmaceutical Company (1989–1991) to work on using peptide libraries to search for optimal substrates for various matrix metalloproteases (MMPs); these substrates were then converted to peptidomimetics to inhibit MMPs for suppressing tumor metastasis and rheumatoid arthritis in animal models. In 1991, Dr. Siahaan joined the Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry at The University of Kansas as an Assistant Professor and moved up through the ranks to Distinguished Professor in 2016. He published 180 peer-reviewed papers, 22 book chapters, 12 minor communications, 2 edited books, and 13 patents. Dr. Siahaan serves as a member of the Executive and Tenure Committee of the School of Pharmacy, The University of Kansas since 2006. Dr. Siahaan served as the Program Director of the T32 NIH Biotechnology Training Program at The University of Kansas in 2009¬–2019. The Biotechnology Training Program is aimed at training predoctoral students to work in the development of therapeutic agents and vaccines such as peptides, proteins, and oligonucleotides derived from biotechnology research. Over the past 28 years, he has mentored numerous undergraduate students, graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and visiting scholars. These students and scholars are currently working in pharmaceutical industries, academia, and government research institutes in the US and other countries. He is also interested in and actively participates in recruiting and enhancing the number of underrepresented graduate students to the graduate programs, specifically in the School of Pharmacy and in The University of Kansas in general. Dr. Siahaan is a Fellow of the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists (AAPS). He also received honors and awards, including Department of Chemistry Fellowship, The University of Arizona (1984); Clark W. Smith Fellowship, The University of Arizona (1985); Self Faculty Scholar, The University of Kansas (2001–2004); Eurand Honorable Mention Award, Controlled Release Society (2002); Pfizer Research Scholar Award (2002–2004); J. Clarence Karcher Lecturer, University of Oklahoma (2005); 2013 Mentor of the Year, Office for Diversity in Science Training, The University of Kansas; and 2014 PhRMA Foundation Award in Excellence in Pharmaceutics.
Professor Siahaan is coordinating and teaching an undergraduate course, PHCH 518: Physical-Chemical Principles of Solution Dosage Forms. The objective of this class is to train students to recognize the effect drug physicochemical properties in solution formulations. The lectures cover a) thermodynamic properties of solution, b) effects of physicochemical properties (i.e., structure, charges) and solution properties (e.g., pH, temperature, buffer, ionic strength and colligative properties) on drug solubility, c) kinetics and mechanisms of drug degradation in solution, and d) mechanism of drug absorption and bioavailability.
Professor Siahaan is also coordinating and teaching a graduated course, PHCH 870: Advanced Pharmaceutical Biotechnology. The objective of this course is to introduce the students to the discovery, development and production of pharmaceutical proteins and vaccines. In the discovery section, the role of structure in governing protein activity, specificity and stability particularly for pharmaceutically important proteins will be covered. Physical and spectroscopic methods for analysis of protein structure will be described. Degradation processes, both chemical and physical, which are peculiar to proteins will be presented, as well as strategies designed to prevent them. Introduction to recombinant DNA technology, large-scale production, purification, and isolation procedures used for recombinant proteins in the pharmaceutical industry will be covered in the development and production sections. Recent topics on basic principles of vaccine discovery and developments including vaccine formulation, manufacturing, cold chain delivery, and analysis will also be discussed. Procedures for handling regulatory guidelines (filing NDA's and IND's) will also be addressed.
- Solution Dosage Forms
- Drug Physicochemical Properties
- Peptides and Protein Formulations
- Peptide and Protein Stability.
PROFESSOR SIAHAAN's research interests are in the utilization and modulation of cell adhesion molecules on the cell surface for enhancing drug permeation through the intestinal mucosa and blood-brain barrier (BBB) and for targeted drug delivery to a specific immune cell type for controlling autoimmune diseases. Dr. Siahaan’s group is using cadherin peptides to enhance permeation of large hydrophilic molecules (i.e., peptides and proteins) through the intestinal mucosa and BBB. The hypothesis is that E-cadherin peptides modulate the E-cadherin interactions in at the intercellular junctions in a reversible and equilibrium fashion to create larger openings that will allow paracellular permeation of large hydrophilic molecules (e.g., peptides and proteins). This method has successfully been used to deliver small molecule drug and neurotrophic protein into the brains of brain disease animal models such as medulloblastoma brain tumor, multiple sclerosis, and Alzheimer’s disease. His group is also using peptides derived from cell adhesion molecules (i.e., ICAM-1 and LFA-1) to target drugs to leukocytes and vascular endothelial cells in inflammatory and autoimmune diseases (i.e., multiple sclerosis, type-1 diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis). Cell adhesion peptides and proteins are being used to target antigenic peptides in bifunctional peptide inhibitor (BPI) and I-domain antigen conjugate (IDAC) to block the formation of the immunological synapse at the interface between T cells and antigen-presenting cells (APC). BPI and IDAC molecules have been shown to suppress autoimmune diseases in models for multiple sclerosis (MS), type-1 diabetes (T1D), and rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
- Brain Delivery
- Antigen-specific Immune Suppression
- Peptide and Protein Delivery to the brain
- Delivering drug to immune cells.
Dr. Siahaan serves as an Associate Chair of Pharmaceutical Chemistry Department; a member of the School of Pharmacy Executive Committee; a member of the Steering committee of NIH IRACDA Training Program; a member of Board of Director and Vice Chair of Globalization of Pharmaceutics Education Network; an editorial board member of Scientific Journals (i.e., Medicinal Research Reviews, Pharmaceutical Research, American Journal of Clinical and Experimental Immunology, and Medicinal Chemistry); a reviewer Granting Agencies (i.e., National Institutes of Health, Alzheimer’s Association, National MS Society).
Selected Awards & Honors
PhRMA Foundation, USA
Office for Diversity in Science Training, The University of Kansas
University of Oklahoma
2002 - 2005
University of Kansas
2001 - 2004
Controlled Release Society
The University of Arizona
The University of Arizona
American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists
2002 - Present