Professor William D. Lubell has been actively advancing the fields of medicinal chemistry and peptide science through the development of seminal methods to create and employ peptide and peptidomimetic prototypes that target and modulate biologically relevant receptors for drug discovery (www.wdlubellgroup.com). After receiving B.A. (Columbia College, 1984) and Ph.D. (U. of California, Berkeley, 1989, with Professor Henry Rapoport) degrees, Lubell was a Japan Society for the Promotion of Science Fellow (1990-1991) in the laboratory of Professor Ryoji Noyori at Nagoya U., Japan, before joining the Department of Chemistry at the U. de Montréal in 1991. Co-author of >250 scientific publications, former Associate Editor of Organic Letters (2005-2018), editorial board member of journals in the biomedical sciences, and innovator of intellectual property to launch the Canadian start-up companies Mperia Therapeutics and Rytvel Biotech, his honors include the Boehringer Ingelheim Young Investigator Award, the DuPont Canada Educational Aid Grant, the Danish National Bank Award, the Merck Therapeutic Research Award, the 2013 CSC Bernard Belleau Award for achievements in medicinal chemistry, and in 2018, the Teva Canada Limited Biological and Medicinal Chemistry Lectureship Award. Originator of Molecules of Life (www.moleculesoflife.ca), Lubell explores experiential education techniques to teach elementary school students about molecules.
Studying novel approaches for educating and performing research on medicinal chemistry in academia, Lubell has made seminal advances towards employing peptides in drug discovery. Innovating protocols for creating constrained amino acid and peptide surrogates to study structure-activity relationships, he developed the submonomer synthesis of azapeptides, aminolactam scanning and azabicycloalkane amino acid libraries for the rapid assessment of biologically relevant conformations and the evolution of peptide leads into peptidomimetic drug candidates with improved pharmacokinetic properties. Forging collaborations with biochemists, pharmacologists and physicians, his efforts have been key for teams developing intellectual property for drug discovery. For example, by developing allosteric modulators to regulate the prostaglangin-F2a receptor as interventions to prevent premature birth, an unmet-medical need with the highest cost per patient, he designed a novel lead ready to enter phase II clinical trials. Exploring peptidomimetic allosteric modulators of the interleukin-1 receptor, he developed candidates demonstrating efficacy in animal models of inflammatory bowel disease, psoriasis and osteoarthritis. Targeting the CD-36 scavenger receptor, he introduced lead molecules and helped to launch the start-up company Mperia Therapeutics targeted on developing treatments for diseases characterized by macrophage-driven inflammation, such as atherosclerosis and age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of adult blindness.