Nicholas Cosford, Ph.D.

Nicholas Cosford

Nicholas Cosford, Ph.D.

Co-Director and Professor

Fax: (858) 795-5221

Research Assistant Professor(s)

Nicholas Cosford's Research Focus

Bone Mineralization Disorders, Cancer, Neurodegenerative and Neuromuscular Diseases, Neurological and Psychiatric Disorders, Alzheimer's Disease, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (Lou Gehrig's Disease), Prostate Cancer, Pancreatic Cancer, Breast Cancer, Ovarian Cancer

We are interested in investigating the interactions of small molecule compounds with therapeutically important proteins and cellular signaling pathways. One aspect of our research emphasizes the use of medicinal chemistry and chemical biology approaches to probe intracellular pathways that regulate cell survival and cell growth. Another area of active research is the development of synthetic chemistry methodology using microfluidic technology for the rapid synthesis of biologically active small molecules. Therapeutically, we are primarily focused on the discovery and optimization of compounds that have the potential to treat cancer, CNS diseases and infectious diseases.

Nicholas Cosford's Bio

Nicholas Cosford, Ph.D. has served on the Sanford Burnham Prebys Board of Trustees since 2023. He is the first faculty member to do so.

Cosford joined the Sanford Burnham Prebys faculty in 2008 as an associate professor. In 2013, he became a full professor. His lab investigates the interactions of small molecule compounds with therapeutically important proteins and cellular signaling pathways. With a specific focus on the discovery and optimization of compounds that might treat cancer, central nervous system diseases and infectious diseases.

Prior to joining Sanford Burnham Prebys in 2005, Cosford worked in both the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries.  At Sibia Neurosciences and at Merck Research Laboratories, he directed multidisciplinary research teams focused on small-molecule hit-to-lead optimization and was responsible for moving several lead compounds through to the clinical phase, including a nicotinic agonist (Altinicline) from research to Phase II clinical trials for treating Parkinson’s disease.

He is an author of more than 90 peer-reviewed, published scientific papers, and has been issued more than 40 issued patents, with an additional 40 patent applications pending.

Cosford has a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry from the University of Bath in England and Doctor of Philosophy degree in organic chemistry from Emory University in Atlanta, GA.  

CMSN Accessory


Small Molecule Inhibition of the Autophagy Kinase ULK1 and Identification of ULK1 Substrates.

Egan DF, Chun MG, Vamos M, Zou H, Rong J, Miller CJ, Lou HJ, Raveendra-Panickar D, Yang CC, Sheffler DJ, Teriete P, Asara JM, Turk BE, Cosford ND, Shaw RJ

Mol Cell 2015 Jul 16 ;59(2):285-97

Characterization of Potent SMAC Mimetics that Sensitize Cancer Cells to TNF Family-Induced Apoptosis.

Welsh K, Milutinovic S, Ardecky RJ, Gonzalez-Lopez M, Ganji SR, Teriete P, Finlay D, Riedl S, Matsuzawa S, Pinilla C, Houghten R, Vuori K, Reed JC, Cosford ND

PLoS One 2016 ;11(9):e0161952

Design and synthesis of systemically active metabotropic glutamate subtype-2 and -3 (mGlu2/3) receptor positive allosteric modulators (PAMs): pharmacological characterization and assessment in a rat model of cocaine dependence.

Dhanya RP, Sheffler DJ, Dahl R, Davis M, Lee PS, Yang L, Nickols HH, Cho HP, Smith LH, D'Souza MS, Conn PJ, Der-Avakian A, Markou A, Cosford ND

J Med Chem 2014 May 22 ;57(10):4154-72

Show All Select Publications

Detection of Cellular Target Engagement for Small-Molecule Modulators of Striatal-Enriched Protein Tyrosine Phosphatase (STEP).

Han YN, Lambert LJ, De Backer LJS, Wu J, Cosford NDP, Tautz L

Methods Mol Biol 2023 ;2706:167-175

Targeting Unc51-like Autophagy Activating Kinase 1 (ULK1) Overcomes Adaptive Drug Resistance in Acute Myelogenous Leukemia.

Bhattacharya S, Piya S, Ma H, Sharma P, Zhang Q, Baran N, Ruvolo VR, McQueen T, Davis RE, Pourebrahim R, Konopleva M, Kantarjian H, Cosford NDP, Andreeff M, Borthakur G

Mol Cancer Res 2023 Jun 1 ;21(6):548-563

Protein Tyrosine Phosphatase Biochemical Inhibition Assays.

Baranowski MR, Wu J, Han YN, Lambert LJ, Cosford NDP, Tautz L

Bio Protoc 2022 Sep 20 ;12(18)

Development and use of a high-throughput screen to identify novel modulators of the corticotropin releasing factor binding protein.

Haass-Koffler CL, Francis TC, Gandhi P, Patel R, Naemuddin M, Nielsen CK, Bartlett SE, Bonci A, Vasile S, Hood BL, Suyama E, Hedrick MP, Smith LH, Limpert AS, Roberto M, Cosford NDP, Sheffler DJ

SLAS Discov 2022 Dec ;27(8):448-459

Novel potent azetidine-based compounds irreversibly inhibit Stat3 activation and induce antitumor response against human breast tumor growth in vivo.

Yue P, Zhu Y, Brotherton-Pleiss C, Fu W, Verma N, Chen J, Nakamura K, Chen W, Chen Y, Alonso-Valenteen F, Mikhael S, Medina-Kauwe L, Kershaw KM, Celeridad M, Pan S, Limpert AS, Sheffler DJ, Cosford NDP, Shiao SL, Tius MA, Lopez-Tapia F, Turkson J

Cancer Lett 2022 May 28 ;534:215613

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