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Tao Che, PhD, joins department and Center for Clinical Pharmacology

Tao Che

An announcement from Drs. Robert Gereau, Jose Moron-Concepcion, and Michael Avidan:

As of March 1st, we welcome Tao Che, PhD, as Assistant Professor in the Department of Anesthesiology and as faculty in the  Center for Clinical Pharmacology. Dr. Che comes to us with a splendid research history that includes a BS and MS in Biochemistry from Wuhan University in China, followed by a successful graduate program in the Department of Biochemistry at Case Western Reserve University with Dr. Paul Carey. This training led him to an exceptionally productive post-doctoral fellowship in the Department of Pharmacology at University of North Carolina under the mentorship of Dr. Bryan Roth.

While at CWRU, Dr. Che studied mechanisms of bacterial resistance resulting in an impressive body of work that motivated him to take it to the next “structural level” by joining the lab of Dr. Bryan Roth at UNC. While with Dr. Roth, he studied fundamental questions of GPCRs, publishing a number of groundbreaking studies, including at least five publications of late in Cell, Science and Nature.

Among the most noteworthy of those publications was his identification of the active and inactive states of the kappa opioid receptor recently published in Cell.   Using nanobody approaches he developed along with picomolar affinity ligands, Dr. Che was able to provide important insights into how agonists activate the kappa receptor, work that will certainly extend beyond the opioid receptors and may impact the entire G-protein field.  Subsequently, Dr. Che solved a new structure of an inactive-nanobody-stabilized state of the kappa receptor and developed a chimeric approach using the nanobody as a biosensor for many other GPCRs (Nature Communications, March 2020).

During the last couple of years, Dr. Che initiated a collaboration with Dr. Susruta Majumdar, a medicinal chemist in the Center for Clinical Pharmacology, whose interests in the design of novel kappa opioid ligands overlapped with Che.  Their ongoing collaboration is pointed at the identification of opioid ligands believed to hold greater therapeutic efficacy with the potential for fewer side effects.

Dr. Che’s current research interests mesh perfectly with the goals of the Center for Clinical Pharmacology. His current research interests certainly align and complement those of our current faculty, Drs. Ream Al-Hasani, Jordan McCall, and Susruta Majumdar, who are exploring the biochemical and pharmacological basis of novel analgesics, especially in the area of opioids.  And his research talents and interests do not limit him to this area only;  it is expected that he will achieve many successful research collaborations among the faculty of Anesthesiology, across Washington University and at other major institutions, e.g. leveraging ongoing research collaborations with colleagues such as Vsevolod Katritch and Ray Stevens at USC and Brian Shoichet at UCSF among many others.

Please join us in welcoming him to the Department of Anesthesiology and the Center for Clinical Pharmacology!

Robert W. Gereau IV, PhD
Vice Chair for Research
Dr. Seymour and Rose T. Brown Professor of Anesthesiology
Director, Washington University Pain Center

Jose Moron-Concepcion, PhD
Professor of Anesthesiology, Neuroscience and Psychiatry
Interim Chief, Division of Basic Research
Washington University Pain Center

Michael S. Avidan, MBBCh, FCASA
Dr. Seymour and Rose T. Brown Professor of Anesthesiology
Head of the Department of Anesthesiology
Anesthesiologist-in-Chief, Barnes-Jewish Hospital