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Department of Biological Sciences at LSUS Welcomes New Chair

June 18, 2021

Dr. Santosh D'Mello (Ph.D. University of Pittsburgh, M.S. University of Bombay, India) will bring a wealth of experience to Louisiana State University Shreveport when he takes up his appointment as Chair of Biological Sciences in August 2021. Dr. D'Mello has held postdoctoral positions at the Boston University Medical Center and at the Institute of Neurobiology, Rome, Italy; has taught Biology at all levels from freshmen to doctoral students; and has published over seventy primary reports stemming from his dynamic research into neurodegenerative disease. He is an editorial board member for several prominent scientific journals and has served on the review panels of federal and private agencies that fund scientific research.

In addition to his notable academic credentials, Dr. D'Mello is the Founder and current CEO of Neugeneron LLC, a biotech company established to develop novel therapeutics for neurodegenerative diseases and glioblastoma. The company is conducting preclinical testing of two therapies: HSB-13, which targets Alzheimer's and Huntington's, and NGN-006, which targets glioblastoma, a highly aggressive form of brain cancer for which there is currently no cure. NGN-006 works by attacking proteins known as STK17A or DRAK1 within glioblastoma cells. Based on findings from other laboratories that STK17A/DRAK1 are an important player in the development of glioblastoma, Dr. D'Mello's company expects that NGN-006 will be far more effective than existing therapies, although, as he points out, determining the level of those therapeutic benefits "requires additional research and investments."

As the incoming Biology Chair at LSUS, Dr. D'Mello is impressed by the dedication of the faculty to the core educational mission of the university. He sees tremendous potential for LSUS to grow over the coming decade and is excited to be part of that growth. Beyond supporting faculty in their teaching mission, he plans to encourage faculty research, as well as promoting research opportunities for undergraduate students. With a track record of research grants totaling $14 million, he is well situated to help faculty members secure internal and external funding.

He is enthusiastic about the range of research already conducted within the department.

"A great strength of the Biology Department is its high-quality and highly-significant research in the fields of ecology, plant biology, and environmental biology. I am [also] excited about the education and research being conducted at the Red River Watershed Management Institute. Environmental sciences are incredibly important, especially given the problem of pollution and changing climate patterns that will affect many of the students currently attending and in the future. This is an important strength of this department which sets it apart from many other biology departments with a more narrow focus."

To this already broad range of expertise within the Biology Department, he plans to develop a concentration in Neuroscience.

"The brain has fascinated people for centuries," he explains. "With the increasing prevalence and awareness of disorders, such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, autism, schizophrenia, and epilepsy, students have developed great interest in knowing how the brain works and exactly why debilitating and often fatal disorders are caused by brain dysfunction."

When not engaged in research or teaching, Dr. D'Mello enjoys cooking Italian food. He has a general allergy to animals but admits to a pet snail, Sean, whom he rescued from a Dallas sidewalk and took home as a companion for his eight-year-old daughter. Sean lived eleven years before succumbing to old age - a testament, perhaps, to the dedication with which the new Chair of Biology fulfils all responsibilities, great or small, he undertakes.

 
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