Dr. Nassim Completed a college degree at College of Emporia, in Emporia Kansas, majoring in Chemistry and Math and minoring in Physics. After that he went on to University of Missouri in Kansas City to pursue a PhD degree under the direction Professor Jerry R. Dias and worked on problems pertaining to natural product chemistry and mass spectrometry. After completion of his doctorate degree, He joined Professor Pierre Crabbe' at the University of Missouri in Columbia for post-doctoral research work and continued his work on steroids and other natural products. Dr. Nassim started at IU Southeast in the fall of 1982 and since then has enjoyed teaching chemistry and working with his research students on synthesizing molecules with potential biochemical activities. He served as the dean of the School of Natural Sciences at IU Southeast from 2002 to 2009.
Our research focuses on synthesizing derivatives of the neurosteroid 17β-estradiol. The classical action of neurosteroids is to alter neuronal activity through gene expression via steroid hormone receptors located on the nuclear membrane. More recently, neurosteroids have been found to bind to ligand-gated receptors on the cellular membrane and to mediate much faster neuronal changes in activity by altering ionic currents. We are particularly interested in the effects of 17β-estradiol on ionic currents through the glycine and GABAAreceptors of hippocampal neurons. We’re attempting to enhance the effects of 17β-estradiol through modification of the steroidal structure.
The research is structured to incorporate student involvement at every level. Students are first instructed on how to perform a literature search and asked to familiarize themselves with the general concepts behind the specific research problem. In addition, they are expected to provide useful input on procedural or mechanistic problems encountered during their research experience. The initial research experience involves instruction in laboratory techniques and instrumentation. The techniques that are stressed for the beginning student researcher are thin layer chromatography (TLC), preparative TLC, column chromatography, recrystallization and H1NMR. The students are expected to perform these techniques independently and with any necessary improvisation.
A current student, is familiarizing himself with the various laboratory techniques and attempting to synthesize a novel neurosteroid. He is in the first stages of a potential synthetic pathway for the development of a novel molecule: modification and protection of functional groups. Most recently, he has protected the phenol group of the 17β-estradiol through methylation and modified the 17-alcohol group by oxidation. He has monitored the reactions through TLC, purified the reaction by column chromatography, and verified the products through H1NMR. He will gain additional experience with reactions and techniques as he continues down the synthetic pathway.