Molecular Recognition Section, Division of Intramural Research : NIDDK : National Institutes of Health

Photo of Dr. Kenneth A. Jacobson

Dr. Kenneth A. Jacobson

National Institutes of Health
Bldg. 8A, Rm. B1A-19
Bethesda, Maryland 20892-0810
TEL (301) 496-9024
FAX (301) 402-0008

Kenneth A. Jacobson is Chief of the Molecular Recognition Section (1993 – present), and in 2003 was appointed as the first Director of the new Chemical Biology Core Facility, both at the National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive, and Kidney Diseases, of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, MD. The Chemical Biology Core Facility will constitute the interface between biological and chemical laboratories in the Institute, adding its expertise as needed in organic synthesis or in pharmacology. He is Adjunct Professor, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda , MD , Department of Anatomy, Physiology, and Genetics.

Dr. Jacobson is a medicinal chemist with interests in the structure and pharmacology of G protein-coupled receptors, in particular receptors for adenosine and nucleotides such as ATP, UDP, and UTP. He has taken an interdisciplinary approach involving synthesis and the in-depth study of both the ligands (small molecules), which are potential therapeutic agents, and their protein targets (receptors). His group was the first to model adenosine and ATP receptors based on a rhodopsin template, and they introduced the first on-line database of receptor mutagenesis in 1996. He was the first to introduce selective, high affinity agonists or antagonists of the A 1 , A 2B , and A 3 adenosine receptors and P2Y 1 nucleotide receptors, which are used universally as pharmacological research tools. He has developed a “functionalized congener approach” to drug design. His approach to ligand development and receptor modeling of A 3 adenosine receptors was featured as the cover story in Chemical and Engineering News (February 12, 2001). Recently, Dr. Jacobson introduced a general approach to engineered G protein-coupled receptors, termed “neoceptors”. His contributions to clinical science include the development of a general methodology for radiofluorination for in vivo positron emission tomography (PET scanning) of peptide receptors, such as insulin receptors. Dr. Jacobson is involved in the basic science leading to drug discovery for new treatments for asthma, cystic fibrosis, cardiac ischemia, thrombosis, stroke, and neurodegenerative diseases. His collaboration with Dr. Bruce Liang of University of Connecticut on the development of new cardioprotective agents was featured in USA Today.

Dr. Jacobson received his B.A. degree (1976) from Reed College , and M.S. (1978) and Ph.D. degrees in Chemistry (1981) with Prof. Murray Goodman at University of California , San Diego . Following his doctoral studies, he was Bantrell Postdoctoral Fellow with Prof. A. Patchornik in the Dept. of Organic Chemistry, Weizmann Institute, before joining NIH in 1983. He has authored or co-authored 350 original research papers, edited three books, and is listed as inventor on 40 patents. He has trained dozens of postdoctoral fellows from many countries. He has served on the editorial advisory boards of Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, Bioconjugate Chemistry, Drug Development Research, Drug Design and Discovery, Expert Opinion on Therapeutic Patents, Current Topics in Medicinal Chemistry, and Medicinal Research Reviews. He has initiated formal collaborative research projects between NIH and the pharmaceutical industry. He has also been a consultant to private industry.

Dr. Jacobson has been a member of the American Chemical Society since 1980 and was elected to serve at the national level, as Chair of the Medicinal Chemistry Division in 2004. He has planned and directed ACS symposia on: P2 nucleotide receptors, cyclin-dependent kinases, cannabinoids, adenosine receptors, allosteric modulation of G protein-coupled receptors, and engineered G protein-coupled receptors. He is also a member of Society for Neuroscience, American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics (FASEB), International Society for Nucleosides, Nucleotides and Nucleic Acids, International Purine Club (serves as representative of United States), and the IUPHAR Committees on Nomenclature of Adenosine and P2Y Receptors.

In 1996, Dr. Jacobson was recognized by the international Purine Club as the first recipient of the Fassina Award for “his many and varied contributions to the field of purinergic research by providing important and novel chemical probes.” In addition he was awarded the Roon Lectureship at Scripps Research Inst., La Jolla , CA in 2001. He was awarded the designation of "Highly Cited Researcher" (among the 200 most highly cited pharmacologists worldwide) by the Institute for Scientific Information. Dr. Jacobson is the 2003 recipient of the prestigious Hillebrand Prize of the Chemical Society of Washington, for original contributions to the science of chemistry.

MRS Home Page
Selected Publications
Adenosine Receptors
P2 Receptors
Medicinal Chemistry
Computational Chemistry
The Purine Club

Chief: Dr. Kenneth Jacobson
The Molecular Recognition Section (MRS) is in the Laboratory of Bioorganic Chemistry at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases which is part of the National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, USA. General inquiries may be addressed to NIDDK, NIH, Building 31, Room 9A04, 31 Center Drive, MSC 2560, Bethesda, MD 20892-2560, USA.
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