Aug 13, 2018
Professor Ohyun Kwon

Professor Ohyun Kwon, an organic chemist, has recently been awarded a $200,000 Technology Development Grant.

The Technology Development Grant comes from the University of California Center for Accelerated Innovation (UC CAI).

A world leader in phosphine catalysis, Kwon received the award for her proposal titled “Therapeutic Product to Treat Arrhythmia” which is described as follows: “Aberrant Ca2+ handling in cardiomyocytes is associated with a wide range of human cardiac diseases, including heart failure and arrhythmias. We have identified a small molecule, made through phosphine catalysis, and its target protein as a novel modulator of cardiac Ca2+ handling, providing a new class of therapeutic agents for cardiac arrhythmias. This project will focus on refining the PK/PD/Toxicity properties of our lead compound through a medicinal chemistry campaign and subsequently evaluating our lead compound in clinically relevant animal models of arrhythmia.”

Kwon received her B.S. in 1991 and M.S. in 1993 from Seoul National University in South Korea. In 1993, she came to the U.S. to pursue her Ph.D. which she received in 1998 from Columbia University. She then went on to Harvard University as a Howard Hughes Postdoctoral Fellow to study chemical genetics. Kwon joined the UCLA Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry faculty as an assistant professor in 2001. Her research at UCLA evolves around the development of new phosphine catalysis reactions. The new reaction methodologies are used in the total synthesis of natural products and in the production of libraries of small organic molecules for chemical genetic applications.  Kwon has developed 19 patented drug candidates and 12 commercialized chemicals.  To learn more about Kwon’s research, visit her group’s website.

The UC CAI Technology Development Grant is awarded to scientists for the development of novel technologies including drugs, devices (including wireless devices), diagnostics and tools, with high potential of becoming commercially viable products that address heart, lung and blood diseases with high unmet need.

Cardiovascular, lung and blood diseases affect nearly 145 million Americans and account for three of the four leading causes of death. The University of California medical campuses at Davis, Irvine, Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco have a rich research base to support a robust pipeline of technologies to improve human health. Biomedical companies increasingly seek later-stage technologies for licensing and development. UC CAI incubates promising technologies from UC innovators with the goal of advancing them toward licensing and commercialization for patient benefit.