Rajendram Rajnarayanan PhD

Rajendram Rajnarayanan

Rajendram Rajnarayanan

Assistant Professor

Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology

Jacobs School of Medicine & Biomedical Sciences

Specialty/Research Focus

Bioinformatics; Genomics and proteomics; Signal Transduction; Toxicology and Xenobiotics

Contact Information
955 Main Street
Room 3215
Buffalo, NY 14203
Phone: 716-829-2130

Professional Summary:

Our laboratory seeks to understand hormone-triggered nuclear receptor signaling. Nuclear receptors are associated with various diseases including diabetes and cancer and the availability of several high resolution structures of their ligand binding domains make them attractive targets for drug discovery. Eight of the top 100 prescription drugs (accounting for about US $9 billion in sales) target a nuclear receptor. However, these drugs can cause a variety of side effects and some patients develop drug resistance.

Tamoxifen, a drug designed to selectively target the nuclear estrogen receptor which is present in 70% of breast cancer patients, induces substantial regression of breast tumors and an increase in disease-free survival. Tamoxifen binds directly to the ligand binding domain of estrogen receptor and regulates estrogen-mediated growth of breast cancer cells. Tamoxifen mimics estrogen effects in other tissues thereby providing some beneficial effects including reduced risk of osteoporosis. However, breast cancers that initially respond well to tamoxifen tend to develop resistance and resume growth despite the continued presence of the antagonist.

We specifically focus on protein interactions that regulate estrogen signaling by binding to estrogen receptors. Our objective is to identify the estrogen receptor conformation-sensing regions of the interacting proteins and to discover potential small molecule sensors using state-of-the art bioinformatics and structure-based discovery tools and use them to generate a new breed of small molecular therapeutics for breast cancer therapy.

Education and Training:

  • PhD, Chemistry, Tulane University (2001)
  • MS, Chemistry, Indian Institute of Technology, Madras (1997)
  • BS, Chemistry, Loyola College (1995)
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, Proteomics and Nanotechnology, NIAMS, NIH
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, Drug Discovery, Georgetown University Medical Center

Awards and Honors:

  • Faculty Teaching Award - Pharmacology and Toxicology (2015)
  • Faculty Teaching Award - Pharmacology and Toxicology (2014)
  • The President Emeritus and Mrs. Meyerson Award for Distinguished Undergraduate Teaching and Mentoring Award (2014)
  • Faculty Award of Excellence for promoting inclusion and cultural diversity (2013)
  • Faculty Teaching Award (2012)
  • Faculty Teaching Award (2010)

Research Expertise:

  • Medicinal Chemistry and Drug Discovery: Studying molecular mechanisms of transcription factor mediated pathways and to discover small molecules that target specific transcription factor conformation. Design, synthesis and evaluation of inducers, substrates and inhibitors of drug metabolizing enzymes. We explore new chemical space by employing state-of-the-art Omics guided structure determination techniques to probe protein interactome and discover new drugs against a variety of diseases including diabetes and cancer.

Research Centers:

  • Center for Computational Research (CCR)

UB 2020 Strategic Strengths:

  • Molecular Recognition in Biological Systems and Bioinformatics

Grants and Sponsored Research:

  • March 2017–December 2021
    Enabling Access To Cutting-Edge Biomedical And Behavioral Science
    Role: Co-Principal Investigator
  • February 2017–January 2019
    PhRMA Graduate Fellowship
    Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Assoc.
    Role: Principal Investigator
  • April 2017–March 2018
    Discovery of Circadian Modulators Selectively Targeting Melatonin Receptors
    Role: Principal Investigator
  • April 2012–March 2017
    NIH IMSD: Enabling Access to Cutting-Edge Biomedical and Behavioral Science
    Role: Co-Principal Investigator
  • July 2014–June 2016
    Environmental Circadian Disruptors Increase Diabetes and Metabolic Disorders Risk
    National Institutes of Health
    Role: Principal Investigator
  • September 2007–September 2012
    Role: Principal Investigator
  • June 2010–August 2012
    Zannoni Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship Award
    American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics
    Role: Co-Investigator
  • April 2009–March 2012
    Discovery Of Selective MT1 Melatonin Receptor Ligands For Sleep Disorders
    Role: Co-Principal Investigator
  • September 2005–August 2007
    Intracellular and Structural Analysis of Roles of a Cytokine Precursor in Aminoacyl-tRNA Synthetase Complexes
    Role: Principal Investigator

Journal Articles:

See all (16 more)

Professional Memberships:

  • American Society for Nanomedicine (ASNM) (2009–present)
  • International Society for Computational Biology (ISCB) (2006–present)
  • American Society for Mass Spectroscopy (ASMS) (2004–present)
  • American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) (2003–present)
  • American Chemical Society (ACS) (1997–present)


  • "Omices-based Clues towards New Breed of Anti-Cancer Agents Targeting ER Signaling" Molecular and Developmental Genetics Seminar, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology (2011)
  • "Discovery at the Interface: Targeting G-Protein Interactions" Neuroscience Seminar, University at Buffalo, Neuriscience (2010)
  • "Small Molecules Targeting Specific Transcription Factor Conformations" Twenty-first Century Bioscience Symposium, Hauptman-Woodward Medical Research Institute (2010)
  • "Interactome Profiles of Nuclear Receptors for Accelerated Drug Discovery" American Chemical Society -SERMACS, ACS, Biochemistry (2009)
  • "Comformation Specific Sensors of Estrogen Signaling as Anti-cancer Drugs" University at Buffalo (2008)
  • "Integrated Discovery of Type-Selective Melatonin Receptor Ligands" FASEB Summer Research Conference on Melatonin Receptors: Actions and Therapeutics, FASEB (2008)
  • "Structure-assisted Proteomics in Drug Discovery" Jackson State University, JSU, Chemistry (2008)
  • "Translational Bioinformatics in Integrated Drug Discovery" Pfizer, Pfizer (2007)
  • "Modern Methods in Drug Discovery: Combinatorial Design and High-throughput Synthesis" Cornell Medical Center, Cornell (2007)
  • "Impact of Structrure-Informatics in Biomedical & Clinical Research" Georgetown University Medical center
  • "Integrated Structure-based discovery: High-Affinity Anti-Cancer Drugs" University of Texas Health Sciences Center/ San Antonio Cancer Institute Lecture series
See all (1 more)

Service Activities:

  • Pharmacology and Toxicology, Jacobs School of Medicine & Biomedical Sciences Admissions; Member (2013)

School News:

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Clinical Specialties:

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Insurance Accepted:

Contact Information

955 Main Street
Room 3215
Buffalo, NY 14203
Phone: 716-829-2130