Allen Thomas, Ph.D.

Donald E. Fox Endowed Chair, Associate Professor, Organic Chemistry

Office: BHS 405c   |    Phone: (308) 865-8452   |    Email: thomasaa@unk.edu

Allen Thomas

Biography

Areas of Interest
Designing drugs that utilize membrane transporter proteins to treat brain cancer and Alzheimer’s disease

Designing drugs to treat brain and mental health disorders.

Education
Ph.D. Chemistry (Organic), The Scripps Research Institute, 2000

M.S. Chemistry (Organic), Baylor University, 1994

B.S. Chemistry (summa cum laude, highest ranking student), Baylor University, 1992 

Faculty Appointments

2018 – Present Associate Professor, Department of Chemistry, University of Nebraska Kearney

2014 – 2018 Assistant Professor, Department of Chemistry, University of Nebraska Kearney

Awards

2020 Faculty Mentoring of Undergraduate Student Research Award

2021 Pratt-Heins Foundation Faculty Award – Research/Scholarship


Announcements

Visit Thomas research group website (external link)

Research Funding

In 2022, Dr. Thomas received a National Institutes of Health (NIH) Academic Research Enhancement Award (AREA; R15 HL165700) through the National  Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI). His group seeks to develop inhibitors of the key enzyme involved in making melatonin, serotonin N-acetyl-transferase (SNAT, AANAT). By better understanding SNAT’s function, researchers could potentially develop a drug to treat seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and other disorders in which melatonin levels are abnormally high. The team includes UNK professors Allen Thomas (PI), Michael Moxley, Evan Hill and Surabhi Chandra in addition to external collaborators Profs. Philip Cole (Harvard), Ryan Wong (UNO) and Mark Wilson (UNL). We apply computational and experimental approaches including medicinal chemistry and zebrafish models of sleep to discover and optimize inhibitors to overcome weaknesses of earlier attempts at blocking melatonin synthesis.

UNK student’s research idea receives $395K in grant funding


Publications

“The effects of prodrug size and a carbonyl linker on L-type amino acid transporter 1-targeted cellular and brain uptake,” Venteicher, B.; Merklin, K.; Ngo, H.X.; Chien, H.-C.; Hutchinson, K.; Campbell, J.; Way, H.; Griffith, J.; Alvarado, C.; Chandra, S.; Hill, E.; Schlessinger, A.; Thomas, A.A., ChemMedChem 2021, 16, 869-880.

L-type amino acid transporter 1 activity of 1,2,3-triazolyl analogs of L-histidine and L-tryptophan,” Hall, C.; Wolfe, H.; Wells, A.; Chien, H.-C.; Colas, C.; Schlessinger, A.; Giacomini, K. M.; Thomas, A. A., Bioorg. Med. Chem. Lett. 2019, 29, 2254.

“Reevaluating the substrate specificity of the L-type amino acid transporter (LAT1).” Chien, H.-C.; Colas, C.; Finke, K.; Springer, S.; Stoner, L; Zur, AA.; Flint, A.; Augustyn, E.; Venteicher, B.; Campbell, J.; Hall, C.; Hernandez, C.; Heeren, N.; Hansen, L.; Anthony, A.; Bauer, J.; Fotiadis, D.; Schlessinger, A.; Giacomini, K. M.; ThomasAA., J. Med. Chem. 201861, 7358.

“LAT1 activity of carboxylic acid bioisosteres: Evaluation of hydroxamic acids as substrates,” Zur, A.A.; Chien, H.-C.; Augustyn, E.; Flint, A.; Heeren, N.; Finke, K.; Hernandez, C.; Hansen, L.; Miller, S.; Lin, L.; Giacomini, K.M.; Colas, C.; Schlessinger, A.; Thomas, A.A.Bioorg. Med. Chem. Lett. 201626, 5000-5006.

"LAT-1 Activity of meta-Substituted Phenylalanine and Tyrosine Analogs” Augustyn, E.; Finke, K.; Zur, A.A.; Hansen, L; Heeren, N.; Chien, H.-C.; Lin, L.; Giacomini, K.M.; Colas, C.; Schlessinger, A.; Thomas, A.A., Bioorg. Med. Chem. Lett. 2016, 26, 2616-2621.

“8-Tetrahydropyran-2-yl chromans: highly selective beta-site amyloid precursor protein cleaving enzyme 1 (BACE1) inhibitors,” Thomas, A.A.; Hunt, K.W.; Newhouse, B.; Watts, R.J.; Liu, X.; Vigers, G.; Smith, D.; Rhodes, S.P.; Brown, K.D.; Otten, J.N.; Burkard, M.; Cox, A.A.; Geck Do, M.K.; Dutcher, D.; Rana, S.; DeLisle, R.K.; Regal, K.; Wright. A.D.; Groneberg, R.; Liao, J.; Scearce-Levie, K.; Siu, M.; Purkey, H.E.; Lyssikatos, J.P., J. Med. Chem. 201457, 10112-10129.

“Discovery of 7‑Tetrahydropyran-2-yl Chromans: β‑Site Amyloid Precursor Protein Cleaving Enzyme 1 (BACE1) Inhibitors That Reduce Amyloid β‑Protein (Aβ) in the Central Nervous System,” Thomas, A.A.; Hunt, K.W.; Volgraf, M.; Watts, R.J.; Liu, X.; Vigers, G.; Smith, D.; Sammond, D.; Tang, T.P.; Rhodes, S.P.; Metcalf, A.T.; Brown, K.D.; Otten, J.N.; Burkard, M.; Cox, A.A.; Geck Do, M.K.; Dutcher, D.; Rana, S.; DeLisle, R.K.; Regal, K.; Wright. A.D.; Groneberg, R.; Scearce-Levie, K.; Siu, M.; Purkey, H.E.; Lyssikatos, J.P.; Gunawardana, I., J. Med. Chem. 2014, 57, 878-902.

“Spirocyclic β-Site Amyloid Precursor Protein Cleaving Enzyme 1 (BACE1) Inhibitors: From Hit to Lowering of Cerebrospinal Fluid (CSF) Amyloid β in a Higher Species.” Hunt, K.W.; Cook, A.W.; Watts, R.J.; Clark, C.T.; Vigers, G.; Smith, D.; Metcalf, A.T.; Gunawardana, I.W.; Burkard, M.; Cox, A.A.; Geck Do, M.K.; Dutcher, D.; Thomas, A.A.; Rana, S.; Kallan, N.C.; DeLisle, R.K.; Rizzi, J.P.; Regal, K.; Sammond, D.; Groneberg, R.; Siu, M.; Purkey, H.; Lyssikatos, J.P.; Marlow, A.; Liu, X.; Tang, T.P., J. Med. Chem. 2013, 56, 3379-3403.