skip to main content

Group Members and Alumni

Group Members and Alumni


Dai Lu, PhD


Dr. Lu is a tenured Associate Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences at Texas A&M University. He obtained his PhD degree in Medicinal Chemistry from University of Connecticut (2005), followed by postdoctoral training from National Institute of Health/Northeastern University and Harvard Medical School (2006-2007). Prior to joining Texas A&M University, he has the academic appointments as Instructor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School and worked as senior chemist at the Center of Neurologic Diseases of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School for seven years. His earlier education includes a MS degree in medicinal chemistry from the Peking Union Medical College (PUMC) and a BS degree in organic chemistry from Nankai University, China. Dr. Lu is the awardee of NIH Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) and the Boehringer Ingelheim Research Fellowship. His scientific contributions include the discovery of several classes of selective ligands for the cannabinoid receptors, the first-in-class intrinsically fluorescent cannabinoid ligands and a few functional selective allosteric modulators for the cannabinoid CB1 receptor. His scientific accomplishment included the discovery of a clinical candidate for the treatment of anxiety. Dr. Lu has been a PI and Co-I in NIH funded projects, intramurally funded projects by Texas A&M university and projects funded by industry partners.


Apurba Bhatacharya, PhD, Visiting Professor 

Dr. Apurba Bhattacharya is a visiting professor in the Lu lab. Dr. Apurba was a professor in the Department of Chemistry at Texas A&M University Kingsville (TAMUK). He is a well-established chemist who has extensive experience at all level of pharmaceutical chemistry research. His experience includes working as the Global R&D Head and Senior Vice President in Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories in India. He has over twenty years of experience in pharmaceutical industry in the areas of drug discovery and development including Merck (8 yrs), Hoechst (8 yrs), Bristol Myers Squibb (2 yrs), and Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories in India (2 yrs). At Merck, he discovered Finasteride or “Prsocar” (a blockbuster drug for enlarged prostate and prostate cancer). and the hair growth drug “Propecia”. At Hoechst, he developed a process for “Cromolyn Sodium” (for asthma), “Gd/Lu Texaphyrin” (agent for MRI imaging agent for photodynamic therapy of cancer) and S-ibuprofen (non-streroidal antinflammatory drug). At Bristol Myers Squibb, as a director of Process R&D, he led the development of Nucanzole, another important antifungal drug from BMS. At TAMUK, he developed a one-step synthesis for Tylenol. In the Lu lab, Dr. Apurba has been assisting Dr. Lu to oversee organic synthesis of drug candidates and advise PhDs and graduate students in a variety of research projects. His scholarly work led to 90 peer-reviewed publications and 9 book chapters. ( complete list).


Zhixing Wu, PhD

Dr. Wu has been a postdoctoral research associate in the Lu lab. He has more than 10 years of experience in the medicinal chemistry research. Prior to joining the Lu lab, he was a senior chemist and associate director of R&D in a biotech CRO company in China. In the Lu lab, Dr. Wu has led the bench efforts to synthesize several classes of allosteric modulators of cannabinoid CB1 receptors, protein kinase inhibitors for Albelson kinases ABL1 and ABL2, and CaM kinase (CaMKV) and paclitaxel water-soluble analogs. He has been assisting the PI to train junior chemists and graduate students.


Sri Sujana Immadi, MS

Sujana is a research associate and lab manager in the Lu lab. She obtained a MS degree in chemistry and has been a key chemist in the Lu lab for the synthesis of several classes of allosteric modulators of cannabinoid CB1 receptors, protein kinase inhibitors for Albelson kinases ABL1 and ABL2, and CaM kinase 5 (CaMKV). She is also assisting senior chemists in the lab to synthesize paclitaxel analogs. While she functions as a chemist in the Lu lab, she has been assisting the PI in setting up and running pharmacology bioassays, drug solubility studies, and pharmaceutical formulation investigations. Additionally, Sujana is in charge of the maintenance of key instruments such as NMR, mass spectrometer and several HPLCs. Sujana has been taking the leading role in some routine lab operations such as processing orders of chemical and lab supplies, logistics for compound management, maintaining databases for chemicals and compounds, and training junior members of the Lu lab.


Sushesh Palakurthi,
Graduate Research Assistant, PhD. candidate

Sushesh is a graduate research assistant in the Lu lab. He has been involved in the synthesis of kinase inhibitors for Albelson kinases ABL1 and ABL2. He is currently working on two medicinal chemistry and pharmaceutics projects in the Lu lab.


Nikhil Shelke,
Graduate Research Assistant

Nikhil has experience in biomedical sciences. He has been working on drug discovery projects involving bioinformatic approaches in the Lu Lab. He is pursuing a MS degree in bioinformatics with the supervision of Dr. Lu.


Nikunj Dobariya,
Graduate Research Assistant

Nikunj has previous experience in COVID-19 research project in the College of Pharmacy, and has strong interests in pharmaceutical sciences. He is working as a graduate research assistant in the Lu lab to assist the synthesis of pharmacological important compounds.


Pavan Chandra Nethi,
Lab Assistant

Pavan is a graduate student in Texas A&M Kingsville. He is working in the Lu lab as lab assistant. He is assisting the lab manager for routine lab operation activities.


Joel Gardea Beltran,
Research assistant, PharmD Candidate


Joel is a PharmD student. He has been an intern research assistant in the Lu lab and has been involved in the synthesis of allosteric modulators of cannabinoid CB1 receptors, and protein kinase inhibitors for Albelson kinases ABL1.


Li Liu, PharmD, MD

Dr. Li Liu obtained her medical degree from Medical School of Southeast University China and was a Licensed Physician in Geriatrics. She has excellent training in molecular pharmacology techniques including cell extraction, PCR-based cloning, western blot for analysis of protein expression, immunohistochemistry and immunofluorescence bioassays. She has hands-on research experience in matrix metalloproteinase and its inhibitors for the treatment of lupus nephritis.  While she pursued her PharmD degree at TAMU College of Pharmacy, she has been a research intern in the Lu lab. Currently she is an associate member of the Lu lab and contributing to the lab as a consultant for bioassay development.