Dr. Vasu Nair

Professor Emeritus

Eminent Scholar

Associate Dean Emeritus

Office: R.C. Wilson Pharmacy, Rm 320A
Voice: 706-542-6293
vasu nair


Ph.D., D.Sc., University of Adelaide, Adelaide, Australia

B.S. with Honors, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand

Postdoctoral Associate, University of Illinois, Urbana

Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Harvard University, Cambridge

Research Interests

Dr. Nair’s research focuses on medicinal chemistry, chemical biology and drug discovery, conceptually new compounds with antiviral activities against DNA and RNA viruses including retroviruses (HIV), and molecules with anticancer activity.

Research efforts in Dr. Nair’s laboratory are concerned with the chemistry and biology of nucleosides, nucleotides and related compounds with particular emphasis on the discovery of novel molecules of antiviral therapeutic interest. Application of molecular recognition concepts to viral genes and enzymes form the basis of our drug design work. Chemoenzymatic methods are utilized for the synthesis of new inhibitors targeted at DNA and RNA viruses, including retroviruses such as HIV. Key enzymes of nucleoside and nucleotide metabolism of interest include deaminases, transferases, kinases, phosphodiesterases, and nucleic acid polymerases. Interdisciplinary antiviral studies are performed through national and international collaborative arrangements.

One example of success in his quest for new antiviral molecules is the discovery of a compound called an isonucleoside that is potently active against retroviruses (lentiviruses). Its triphosphate is one of the most potent known inhibitors of the viral enzyme, HIV reverse transcriptase. A more recent example of success is the discovery of potent inhibitors of HIV integrase. The viral enzyme is involved in the integration of viral DNA into human DNA, the most devastating step in the attack of human cells by HIV. Blocking the biochemical mechanism of action of this enzyme is a logical approach to preventing this viral DNA invasion of the human system. Dr. Nair’s laboratory has discovered stable (i.e., nuclease-resistant), conceptually-novel dinucleotides (miniature surrogate DNA molecules) that are recognized by wild-type HIV integrase and that have strong inhibitory activity against the viral enzyme. In more recent work, they have designed and synthesized novel molecules constructed on nucleobase scaffolds that inhibit both steps of HIV integrase action. A few of these compounds have been found to exhibit highly potent anti-HIV activity. Other investigations in his laboratory have focused on drug discovery against infectious RNA viruses, with particular emphasis on the virus families,paramyxoviridae, flaviviridae and filoviridae. The enzyme, IMPDH, is used as a probe for RNA antiviral drug discovery.

Of Note

  • Innovator of the Year Award, University of Georgia, 2008
  • Board of Directors, International Society for Antiviral Research, 2003-2007
  • William Henry Terry, Sr. Chair, 2002-Present
  • Volwiler Research Achievement Award, AACP, 2007
  • Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar, 2002-Present
  • Midwest Award of the American Chemical Society, 2001
  • Invited Co-Chair, HIV Therapeutics in “Summit on Development of Infectious Disease Therapeutics,” NIH Conference, Bethesda, MD, 2000
  • Elected Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Sciences (AAAS), 1998
  • University of Iowa Foundation, Distinguished Professor, 1993-2002
  • D.Sc. Degree, University of Adelaide, Australia, 1991

Selected Publications

V. Nair and G. Chi, HIV-1 Integrase: Mechanism and Inhibitor Design, N. Neamati, Ed., Wiley, New York, NY, 2011.

V. Nair, G. Chi, Q. Shu, J. Julander and D. F. Smee, A Heterocyclic Molecule with Significant Activity Against Dengue Virus, Bioorg. Med. Chem. Lett. 2009, 19, 1425-1427.

V. Nair and Q. Shu, Inosine Monophosphate Dehydrogenase (IMPDH) as a Target in Drug Discovery, Med. Res. Rev. 2008, 28, 219-232.

V. Nair and Q. Shu, Inosine Monophosphate Dehydrogenase (IMPDH) as a Probe in Antiviral Drug Discovery, Antiviral Chemistry and Chemotherapy, 2007, 18, 245-258.

V. Uchil, B. Seo and V. Nair, A Novel Strategy to Assemble the Beta-diketo Acid Pharmacophore of HIV Integrase Inhibitors on Purine Nucleobase Scaffolds, J. Org. Chem. 2007, 72, 8577-8579.

V. Nair and G. Chi, HIV Integrase Inhibitors as Therapeutic Agents in AIDS, Rev. Med. Virol. 2007, 17, 277-295.

G. Chi, V. Nair, Y. Pommier and E. Semenova, A Novel Diketo Phosphonic Acid that Exhibits Specific, Strand-transfer Inhibition of HIV Integrase and anti-HIV Activity, Bioorg. Med. Chem. Lett. 2007, 17, 1266-1269.

A. Cox and V. Nair, Novel HIV Integrase Inhibitors with anti-HIV Activity: Insights into Integrase Inhibition from Docking Studies. Antiviral Chem. and Chemother. 2006, 17, 343-353.

V. Nair, G. Chi, R. Ptak and N. Neamati, HIV Integrase Inhibitors with Nucleobase Scaffolds: Discovery of a Highly Potent anti-HIV Agent, J. Med. Chem. 2006, 49, 445-447.