Umesh R. Desai, Ph.D.
Department of Medicinal Chemistry
Faculty/Staff picture
  •   Virginia Biotechnology Research Park, Suite 212
  • School of Pharmacy - Dept of Medicinal Chemistry
    BioTech One, Suite 205
    800 E. Leigh St.
    Box 980540
    Richmond, VA 23298-0540
  •  (804) 828-7575
    (804) 827-3664

Area of Focus

  • Heparin Mimetics - Design, Discovery and Development
  • Allosteric Modulators of Coagulation Factors, Viral Glycoproteins and Cell Surface Growth Factor Receptors
  • Computational Design of 'High-Specificity' Glycosaminoglycan Sequences
  • Anti-Thrombotic Agents
  • Anti-Cancer Stem Cell Agents


  • B.S., Chemistry (M. S. University of Baroda, India, 1983)
  • M.S., Organic Chemistry (Indian Institute of Technology - Bombay, 1985)
  • Ph.D., Organic Chemistry (Indian Institute of Technology - Bombay, 1991)

Post-Graduate Training

  • Fellowship - Postdoctoral Training (University of Iowa – Iowa City, 1993)
  • Fellowship - Postdoctoral Trainint (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, 1994)

Professional Experience

  • (2018 - Present) Chairman, Department of Medicinal Chemistry,
  • (2009 - 2021) Director, Institute for Structural Biology, Drug Discovery and Development
  • (2007 - Present) Professor of Medicinal Chemistry, Virginia Commonwealth University
  • (2004 - 2007) Associate Professor of Medicinal Chemistry, Virginia Commonwealth University
  • (1998 - 2004) Assistant Profesor of Medicinal Chemsitry, Virginia Commonwealth University


PubMed Search
The publications search is performed on the National Library of Medicine's PubMed database. The search may be slow during high traffic hours, may return articles authored by another researcher with a similar name and may not always find all of a researcher's articles.

Books/Book Chapters

  • ‘Glycosaminoglycans – Chemistry and Biology’, a volume of Methods in Molecular Biology, Springer, NY (2014). Editor: Kuberan Balagurunathan, Hiroshi Nakato and Umesh R. Desai


  • Desai, U. R.; Patel, B. B.; Patel, N. J.; Karuturi, R. Sulfated and unsulfated flavonoid oligomers as cancer therapeutics. US Patent 9,850,221 B2. Priority date: Nov. 8, 2013; Issued on Dec. 26, 2017.
  • Desai, U. R.; Thakkar, J. N.; Mehta, A. Y. Sulfated beta-O4 low molecular weight lignins. US Patent 9,777,123 B2. Priority date: Nov. 12, 2012; Issued on Oct. 3, 2017.
  • Desai, U. R.; Al-Horani, R. A.; Karuturi, R. Allosteric modulators of factor XIa as anticoagulant agents. US Patent 9,758,459 B2. Priority date: Nov. 12, 2012; Issued on Sept 12, 2017.
  • Desai, U. R.; King, J. T. Method for finger-printing heparins. United States Patent, US 8,262,881 issued September 11, 2012.
  • Desai, U. R.; Henry, B. L.; Liang, A.; Thakkar, J. N.; Mangrum, J. B.; Torres Filho, I.; Spiess, B. D.; Saluja, B.; Sakagami, M. Cinnamic acid-based oligomers and uses thereof – Divisional II Application. United States Patent Application Publication, US 8,993,620 issued March 31, 2015.

Recent Publications

  • Abdelfadiel, E. I.; Gunta, R.; Villuri, B. K.; Afosah, D. K.; Sankaranarayanan, NV.; Desai, U. R.* Designing smaller, synthetic, functional mimetics of sulfated glycosaminoglycans as allosteric modulators of coagulation factors. Journal of Medicinal Chemistry 2023, 66, 4503-4531. (PMID: 37001055)
  • Ponnuraj, N.; Akbar, H.; Arrington, J. V.; Spatz, S. J.; Nagarajan, B.; Desai, U. R.; Jarosinski, K. W.* he alphaherpesvirus conserved pUS10 is important for natural infection and its expression is regulated by the conserved Herpesviridae protein kinase (CHPK). PLoS Pathogens 2023, 19, e1010959. (PMID: 36749787)
  • Morla, S.; Ravikumar, O.; O’Hara, C. P.; Boothello, R.; Vera, A.; Abdelfadiel, E. I.; Fayyad, R.; Afosah, D. K.; Sharon, C.; Fernandez, L.; Shah, S. A.; Patel, B. B.;* Desai, U. R.* Designing synthetic, sulfated glycosaminoglycan mimetics that are orally bioavailable and exhibiting in vivo anti-cancer activity. Journal of Medicinal Chemistry 2023, 66, 1321-1338. (PMID: 36634271)
  • Boothello, R. S.; Sankaranarayanan, NV.; Sistla, J. C.; Nagarajan, B.; Sharon, C.; Chittum, J. E.; Niyaz, R. Y.; Roy, S.; Nandi, A.; O’Hara, C. P.; Navaz Gangji, R.; Afosah, D. K.; Ongolu, R.; Patel, B. B.;* Desai, U. R.* Glycan modulation of insulin-like growth factor–1 receptor. Angewandte Chemie International Edition 2022, 61, e202211320. (PMID: 36205924)
  • Holmes, S. G.; Nagarajan, B.; Desai, U. R.* 3-O-sulfation induces sequence-specific compact topologies in heparan sulfate that encode a dynamic sulfation code. Computational and Structural Biotechnology Journal 2022, 20, 3884-3898. (PMID: 35891779)
  • Nagarajan, B.; Holmes, S. G.; Sankaranarayanan, NV.; Desai, U. R.* Molecular dynamics simulations to understand glycosaminoglycan interactions in the free and protein-bound states. Current Opinion in Structural Biology 2022, 74, 102356. (PMID: 35306321)
  • Nagarajan, B.;* Sankaranarayanan, NV.; Desai, U. R.* In-depth molecular dynamics study of all possible chondroitin sulfate disaccharides reveals key insight into structural heterogeneity and dynamism. Biomolecules 2022, 12, 00077.
  • Chittum, J. E.; Sankaranarayanan, NV.; O’Hara, C. P.; Desai, U. R.* On the selectivity of heparan sulfate recognition by SARS-CoV-2 spike glycoprotein. ACS Medicinal Chemistry Letters 2021, 12, 1710–1717. (PMID: 34786180)
  • Sankaranarayanan, NV.; Nagarajan, B.; Desai, U. R.* Combinatorial virtual library screening study of transforming growth factor-ß2 –chondroitin sulfate system. International Journal of Molecular Sciences 2021, 22, 7542.
  • Kalita, M.; Chua, J. S.; Boothello, R. S.; Joice, A.; Antelope, O.; Roy, A.; Pon Velayutham, A.; Saijoh, Y.; Desai, U. R.;* Balagurunathan, K.* Visualizing antithrombin-binding 3-O-sulfated heparan sulfate motifs on cell surfaces. Chemical Communications 2020, 56, 14423–14426. (PMID: 33146178)
  • Tiwari, V.;* Beer, J. C.; Sankaranarayanan, NV.; Swanson-Mungerson, M. Desai, U. R.* Discovering small molecule therapeutics against SARS-CoV-2. Drug Discovery Today 2020, 25, 1535–1544. (PMID: 32574699)
  • Rajarathnam, K.;* Desai, U. R. Structural insights into how proteoglycans determine chemokine function: Progress and challenges. Frontiers in Immunology 2020, 11, 660. (PMID: 32391006)
  • Nagarajan, B.;* Sankaranarayanan, NV.; Desai, U. R.* Rigorous analysis of free solution glycosaminoglycan dynamics using simple, new tools. Glycobiology 2020, 30, 516–527. (PMID: 32080710)
  • Al-Horani, R. A.; Abdelfadiel, E. I.; Afosah, D. K.; Morla, S.; Sistla, J. C.; Mohammed, B.; Martin, E. J.; Sakagami, M.; Brophy, D. F.; Desai, U. R.* A synthetic heparin mimetic that allosterically inhibits factor XIa and reduces thrombosis in vivo without enhanced risk of bleeding. Journal of Thrombosis and Haemostasis 2019, 17, 2110–2122. (PMID: 31397071)
  • Morla, S.; Sankaranarayanan, NV.; Afosah, D. K.; Kumar, M.; Kummarapurugu, A. B.; Voynow, J. A.; Desai, U. R.* On the process of discovering leads that target the heparin-binding site of neutrophil elastase in the sputum of cystic fibrosis patients. Journal of Medicinal Chemistry 2019, 62, 5501–5511. (PMID: 31074986)
  • Boothello, R. S.; Patel, N. J.; Sharon, C.; Abdelfadiel, E. I.; Morla, S.; Brophy, D. B.; Lippmann, R. H.; Desai, U. R.;* Patel, B. B.* A unique non-saccharide mimetic of heparin hexasaccharide selectively inhibits cancerous but protects adult colonic stem/progenitor cells via a common mechanism of induction of p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase. Molecular Cancer Therapeutics 2019, 18, 51–63. (PMID: 30337351)
  • Sistla, J. C.; Morla, S.; Alabbas, A. K.; Kalathur, R. C.; Sharon, C.; Patel, B. B.; Desai, U. R.* Polymeric fluorescent heparin as a one-step FRET substrate of human heparanase. Carbohydrate Polymers 2019, 205, 385–391. (PMID: 30446119).
  • Sankaranarayanan, NV.; Nagarajan, B.; Desai, U. R.* So you think computational approaches for understanding glycosaminoglycan–protein interactions are too dry and too rigid? Think again! Current Opinion in Structural Biology 2018, 50, 91–100. (PMID: 29328962)