Dr. Adam Frankel completed a bachelor of arts in biological sciences and french literature at the University of California at Santa Barbara, and a doctor of philosophy in biochemistry & molecular biology at the University of California at Los Angeles, before completing a postdoctoral fellowship with the American Cancer Society at the California Institute of Technology. Dr. Frankel is an associate professor in the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences at UBC.
Dr. Frankel draws on his expertise and experiences as a biochemist to teach primarily in the area of medicinal chemistry, which is a multi-disciplinary field that combines organic chemistry, biochemistry, computational chemistry, pharmacology, statistics, and biology in order to provide a molecular understanding of therapeutic compounds. Examples of some of the topics that he teaches include quantitative structure-activity relationships, enzyme inhibition kinetics, and bacterial enzyme inhibitors (a subset of antibiotics).
The current thrust of Dr. Frankel’s investigations is centered on a family of human enzymes called protein arginine N-methyltransferases (PRMTs), which transfer methyl groups from S-adenosyl-L-methionine to arginine residues within proteins. Chemically, this post-translational modification alters the hydrogen-bonding capability of the decorated residue without significantly changing its positive charge. Biologically, arginine methylation plays important roles in facilitating gene expression and repression, processing nascent RNA transcripts, and participating in DNA damage repair. An area of interest for Dr. Frankel and his research group is the contribution of PRMT activities to human diseases such as hormone-dependent cancers, inflammation, and cardiovascular disease. His research team approaches these problems from several different angles, combining in vitro and cell-based studies to provide a mechanistic view of PRMT function and to discover new therapies that involve targeting PRMTs.
The work requires a fundamental understanding of the basic sciences, and each team member has been trained in or exposed to any one or a combination of the following areas: biochemistry, molecular biology, biophysics, chemistry, microbiology, and cell biology. In addition to possessing a firm understanding of these areas, trainees are motivated individuals with excellent communication and writing skills who are asked routinely to come up with creative solutions to answer interesting biochemical questions.