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Nadya I. Tarasova, Ph.D.

Portait Photo of Nadya Tarasova
Cancer and Inflammation Program
Head, Synthetic Biologics Core
Staff Scientist
Center for Cancer Research
National Cancer Institute
Building 538, Room 102
P.O. Box B
Frederick, MD 21702-1201


Dr. Tarasova was trained as a bioorganic chemist. She obtained her Ph.D. in chemistry at Lomonosov University, Moscow, Russia in 1981. After post-doctoral training in the lab of Prof. Bent Foltmann at Copenhagen University, Denmark, she established a group working on the chemistry of proteolytic enzymes in the Chemistry Department of Lomonosov University. Dr. Tarasova joined the ABL-Basic Research Program of NCI as Visiting Scientist in 1991 and became a Staff Scientist in NCI Center for Cancer Research in 1999. She was appointed a Head of Synthetic Biologics and Drug Discovery Facility in 2008.


The major research goal is the development of new methods in anti-cancer drug discovery. There is a paradoxical decline in the number of new medicines on the market in spite of increasing investment into research and development by pharmaceutical industry ( One of the reasons for this phenomenon is the focus of pharmaceutical companies on small molecules for the development of therapeutic agents. Although they can be potent inhibitors of target proteins, small molecules are known for their low selectivity. They are rarely effective in inhibition of protein-protein interactions because they are not able to interfere effectively with multipoint binding involving large protein surfaces. Larger and more complex molecules, such as peptides and peptidomimetics, provide more specific target recognition and are better suited for inhibition of protein-protein interactions. However, peptides are susceptible to degradation and require additional design of cellular delivery mechanisms. We make peptides more druggable by developing metabolically stable cell-permeable peptidomimetics with rigid and predictable structures amendable to rational drug design.

External funding of the projects includes:
CDMRP Prostate Cancer Research Award PC08116 'Self-assembling peptide nanoparticles targeting prostate tumors'
CRADA with Calidris Therapeutics 'Development of Peptidomimetic Cancer Therapeutics Platform Based upon NCI Lipopeptide Inhibitors of Molecular Targets and Self- Assembling Nanoparticle Drug Delivery System'.

This page was last updated on 7/3/2014.