Irosha Nawarathne
Lyon College

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Irosha Nawarathne

  Irosha Nawarathne
  Assistant Professor of Chemistry

  Contact Information
  Office 242 in Derby Center for Science and Mathematics
  870.307.7218 | irosha.nawarathne@lyon.edu

 


 

Dr. Nawarathne earned her Bachelor’s degree (First Class Honors) in chemistry from University of Colombo in Sri Lanka and her PhD in bioorganic chemistry from Michigan State University in East Lansing. For her dissertation research, she successfully utilized Taxus acyltransferases in biocatalysis in order to modify biologically important natural product scaffolds such as paclitaxel (Taxol®) under the supervision of Dr. Kevin D. Walker.

Upon graduation in 2011, she joined the College of Pharmacy at University of Michigan in Ann Arbor as a research fellow, where she gained medicinal chemistry skills by conducting research on antibiotic development. Her current research lab at Lyon College focuses on the development of efficacious therapeutics from large natural product scaffolds, with proven biomedical applications, through targeted synthesis.

Currently, her research team full of undergraduates is working on the development of novel rifamycins to combat multi-drug resistant Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB) strains by gaining a deeper understanding of molecular interactions between rifamycins and MTB RNA polymerase. Her laboratory also attempts to modify precursors of paclitaxel to further understand the biosynthetic pathway of paclitaxel.

Dr. Nawarathne is funded through the National Institutes of Health and General Medical Sciences (P20 GM103429). She is passionate about creating opportunities for undergraduate students to explore the process of drug discovery and challenging them with intriguing questions while contributing to the advancement of human health through drug discovery.

 


 

Classes Offered

CHM 210 and CHM 210L – Organic Chemistry I Lecture and Laboratory (4 credits)

CHM 220 and CHM 220L – Organic Chemistry II Lecture and Laboratory (4 credits)

CHM 302 and CHM 302L – Instrumental Analysis Lecture and Laboratory (4 credits)

CHM 302 and CHM 302L – Advanced Inorganic Chemistry Lecture and Laboratory (4 credits)

COR 100 – Year One (1 credit)

CHM 480 – Directed Research (1 credit)

CHM 280 – Introduction to Chemical Research (1 credit)

 


Publications

Nawarathne, I. N. Introducing Diversity through an Organic Approach, J. Chem. Educ. 2017, Under Editorial Revisions

Miller, L.; Trant, J.; Nawarathne, I. N. A robust method to generate the single stranded circular DNA templates for the in vitro transcription assays, 2017, Manuscript in Preparation

Trant, J.; Miller, L.; Stout, M. G.; Brineman, S.; Howell, S.; Nawarathne, I. N. Facile synthesis of key rifamycin analogues to target the most prevalent rifampin resistant Mycobacterium tuberculosis RNA polymerase, 2017, Manuscript in Preparation

Duty, T.; Sifford, J.; Staton, W.; Walker, K. D.; Nawarathne, I. N. Assessing the Timing of 2-O-Benzoylation Step in the Overall Paclitaxel Biosynthetic Pathway, 2017, Manuscript in Preparation

• Molodtsov, V; Nawarathne, I. N.; Scharf, N. T.; Kirchhoff, P. D.; Showalter, H. D. H.; Garcia, G. A.; Murakami, K. S. X-ray crystal structures of the Escherichia coli RNA polymerase in complex with Benzoxazinorifamycins, J. Med. Chem., 2013, 56, 4758-4763 (Featured in Cover Art Gallery, Volume 56)

Showalter, H. D.; Garcia, G. A.; Xu, H.; Atwal, S. K.; Nawarathne, I. N.; Kirchhoff, P. D., The Regents of the University of Michigan (2013) Antimicrobial Compounds, WO/2013/086415

Nawarathne, I. N.; Walker, K. D. Modification of Biologically Important Natural Product Scaffolds through Biocatalysis, Using Taxus Acyltransferases (A Review), Resonance Annual Magazine, University of Colombo, Sri Lanka, 2013, 100-104 

Nawarathne, I. N.; Walker, K. D. Point Mutations (Q19P and N23K) Increase the Operational Solubility of a 2α-O-Benzoyltransferase that Conveys Various Acyl Groups from CoA to a Taxane Acceptor, J. Nat. Prod., 2010, 73, 151-159

• Nevarez, D. M.; Mengistu, Y. A.; Nawarathne, I. N.; Walker, K. W. An N-Aroyltransferase of the BAHD Superfamily has Broad Aroyl CoA Specificity In Vitro with analogs of N-Dearoylpaclitaxel, J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2009, 131, 5994 - 6002

• Nawarathne, I. N.; Jayasekara, S.; De Silva, E. D. Investigation of Antifungal Activity of Drosera indica, Chemistry in Sri Lanka, 2005, 22, 189

 


Selected Abstracts of Papers

Studies directed toward the design of benzoxazinorifamycins less susceptible to emerging resistance (Nawarathne, I. N.; Scharf, N. T.; Molodtsov, V.; Kirchhoff, P. D.; Murakami, K. S.; Garcia, G. A.; Showalter, H. D. H. Abstracts of Papers, 247th ACS National Meeting, Dallas, TX, United States, March 16-20, 2014, MEDI-156)

Pinpointing the timing of 2-​O-​benzoylation in the overall paclitaxel biosynthetic pathway (Nawarathne, I. N.; Walker, K. D. Abstracts of Papers, 244th ACS National Meeting & Exposition, Philadelphia, PA, United States, August 19-23, 2012, BIOL-201)

Utilizing Taxus acyltransferases as biocatalysts: A handy way of producing modified paclitaxel compounds (Nawarathne, I. N.; Walker, K. D. Abstracts of Papers, 240th ACS National Meeting, Boston, MA, United States, August 22-26, 2010, BIOL-86)

Point mutations (Q19P and N23K) increase the operational solubility of a 2-O-benzoyltransferase that conveys various acyl groups from CoA to a taxane acceptor (Nawarathne, I. N.; Walker, K. D. Abstracts of Papers, 239th ACS National Meeting, San Francisco, CA, United States, March 21-25, 2010, BIOT-454)

N-Benzoyltransferase has broad aroyl CoA specificity in vitro with analogs of N-debenzoylpaclitaxel (Nevarez, D. M.; Mengistu, Y. A.; Nawarathne, I. N.; Walker, K. W. Abstracts of Papers, 239th ACS National Meeting, San Francisco, CA, United States, March 21-25, 2010, BIOL-117)

 


 

Selected Grant Applications

Nawarathne, I. N. Modified Rifamycins to Target Multi-Drug Resistant Mycobacterium tuberculosis, Arkansas IDeA network for Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE) Summer Research Grant, 2017 – Awarded in full $33,228, supported by an exploratory grant from National Institute of Health (NIH)

Nawarathne, I. N. Probing Interactions of Rifamycins and Mycobacterium tuberculosis RNA Polymearses, Arkansas IDeA network for Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE) Summer Research Grant, 2016 – Awarded in full $33,063, supported by an exploratory grant from National Institute of Health (NIH)

Nawarathne, I. N. Probing Interactions of Rifamycins and Mycobacterium tuberculosis RNA Polymerases, Support for the summer research students from FutureFuel Chemical Company in Batesville, AR, 2016 – Awarded in full $2,500

• Nawarathne, I. N. Novel Binding Site for Rifamycins in Mycobacterium tuberculosis RNA Polymerases, Arkansas IDeA network for Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE) Supplemental Instrumental Grant from University of Arkansas Medical School (UAMS) in Little Rock, AR, 2016 – Awarded in full $5,000, supported by an exploratory grant from National Institute of Health (NIH)

• Nawarathne, I. N. Competitive Instrumentation Awards, Arkansas IDeA network for Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE) Competitive Instrumentation Award, 2015 – Awarded in full $49,500, supported by an exploratory grant from National Institute of Health (NIH)

 


 

Academic/Professional Service

Current chairperson of the Admissions and Financial Aid Committee 

Faculty Representative of the Student Publications Committee 

Faculty Adviser for Order of the Tartans Mortar Board Chapter 

Coordinator/Contact Person of the Lyon Science Outreach Program for the Elementary School Students in the Batesville Area