Prior to becoming a tenured Professor in the FIU HWCOM Department of Human and Molecular Genetics Dr. Agoulnik was tenured Associate Professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, USA. He received his Ph.D. from the Russian Academy of Science at the Institute of Cytology and Genetics, Novosibirsk, Russia in 1987 and took postdoctorial training at the Max Planck Institute for Biology, Tübingen, Germany. He joined the faculties of University of Tennessee, Memphis in 1992 and Baylor College of Medicine in 1995.
Dr. Agoulnik's work has focused on using various cell-based, genetic, and transgenic technology to uncover the functions of various genes in normal development and in diseases. His current research interests include the role played by relaxin family peptides and their receptors in various physiological systems. Relaxins belong in insulin superfamily but signal through cellular membrane G protein-coupled receptors. Initially associated with reproductive development these peptides have distinct functions in various other organs. Their anti-fibrotic, vasodilatory, anti-inflammatory, and anti-apoptotic properties have been demonstrated in different experimental models of disease. Dr. Agoulnik laboratory is involved in identifying small molecule modulators of relaxin receptor and testing their potential therapeutic effects in various diseases. Dr. Agoulnik has published more than 120 research papers and book chapters. He has trained numerous post-doctorial and medical fellows, residents and students. Dr. A. Agoulnik is a Founding Director of Ph.D. Program in Biomedical Sciences in HWCOM at FIU. Research in his laboratory is supported by grants from NIH, research foundations, and industry.
Function of relaxin peptides and their GPCRs is the center of the research activities in Dr. Agoulnik laboratory. Using transgenic mouse models, cell biology approaches, genomics and proteomic techniques we study the effects of different hormonal stimuli in ontogenesis and function of various organs. The special emphasis of our research is the identification and characterization of small molecule modulators of relaxins’ GPCR. Currently the following projects are underway:
"Small molecule antagonists of relaxin receptor" (NCI, 1U01CA177711, PI: AI Agoulnik). We have shown that the inhibition of relaxin hormone signaling suppresses prostate cancer progression. In collaboration with NIH/NCATS researchers we will perform a high throughput screening of a large library of small molecules to isolate chemical compounds that disrupt relaxin signaling and can be potentially used as the anti-cancer drugs.
"Relaxin receptor agonists for treatment of liver fibrosis”(NIDDK, 1R01DK110167, PI: AI Agoulnik). The goal of this project is to study the effects of relaxin receptor agonists as therapeutic agents in liver fibrosis. This study is a collaboration with scientists from Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine and from NCATS.
"Small molecule agonists of insulin-like3 receptor for treatment of osteoporosis" (NIAMS, 1R01AR070093, PI: AI Agoulnik). The goal of this project is to identify small molecule agonists of Insulin-like3 hormone receptor for treatment of osteoporosis and reproductive abnormalities.
"Small molecule relaxin receptor agonists in treatment of uterine fibroids" (Bayer Pharma Aktiengesellschaft, Grants4Targets 2016-08-1711, PI: AI Agoulnik). The goal of the proposal to study the effects of relaxin signaling on development of uterine leiomyomas.
Several other projects related to understanding mechanisms of hormonal stimulation and therapeutic testing of small molecule compounds are in progress.