Dr. Ahmed Awad has been a chemistry professor at CSU Channel Islands since 2007. He has taught everything from general chemistry, biological chemistry, organic chemistry, to independent research. Some of you may know him as the professor who brings only a white board marker to class and then proceeds to lay down impressive amounts of chemistry knowledge without using his notes. How did he become such a chemical savant and what is he doing with that knowledge now? 

Professor Awad received his Ph.D. in Bioorganic Chemistry in 2004 from the University of Ulm, Germany. At the University of Ulm, he researched developing molecules that could be used as anticancer or antiviral agents. These molecules are essentially short segments of Nucleic Acids, DNA or RNA, called oligonucleotides that can specifically bind to certain regions on the mRNA to prevent the formation of pathogenic proteins. This works by blocking the translation event during the protein biosynthesis. For these molecules to be effective, chemical modifications are necessary in order to stabilize them against degradation in biological systems. Dr. Awad then moved to the United States to work on his postdoctoral fellowship at Iowa State University from 2004 to 2006. He continued his research with Therapeutic Nucleic Acids and worked in designing a nucleic acid probe that could be used for gene imaging. The probe finds a target gene, and a florescent signal is then observed. Specifically, he worked with aptamers and their application for the treatment of cancers. Apatmers are oligonucleotides that bind to a specific target molecule. Accordingly, this method can be used to detect cancer in very early stages.
RNA C3                             RNG C3
Dr. Ahmed Awad continued his research and has accepted a second postdoctoral fellowship at UC Santa Barbara from 2006 through 2007. Now at CSU Channel Islands, he continues conducting research, only this time he has undergraduate research students helping. His research group strives to construct novel chemical modifications to produce RNG molecules (modified ribonucleic acids) in which the phosphodiester bond is replaced by guanidinium linkage. These RNG molecules should be stable against nucleases as well as have better cellular uptake, so by making them positively charged they pass more easily through the cell membrane. If you would like to learn more about this stimulating research, Dr. Awad would be more than happy to converse with you about it. In his own words:

“My undergraduate students and I are focused on having research quality publications in international journals as well as interest in presenting our work at several scientific meetings and conferences” 

Dr. Awad is a vital attribute for the chemistry department and the advancement of nucleic acid research.   We are lucky to have such an academically inclined professional here.

Dr. Awad's current undergraduate research students.
Sammy Freitag