Rachid Skouta

Research Assistant Professor

(413) 577-4167
602 LGRT (office) 501 LGRT (lab)

M.Sc., Sherbrooke University, Canada, 2003
Ph.D., McGill University, Montreal Canada, 2008


Columbia University, 2010

Research Interests: 

Chemistry and Biology

Designing small molecules with specific predicted properties offers great potential in chemistry biology and medicine. Our research objective is to improve the understanding, at the molecular level, of the function of potential drug targets. To do so, we design, synthesize and investigate compounds with specific predicted properties and better drug-like properties, via structure-activity-relationships (SAR) study, that target receptors transporters and enzymes involved in neurodegenerative, cancer and infection disease models. We are also assessing the antioxidant, anticancer and antimicrobial properties of plant extracts toward the identification of potent natural products with better pharmaceutical properties.

Our research interests and activities span many traditional and emerging disciplines of chemistry and biology with noteworthy focuses on the use of computational chemistry, medicinal chemistry and SAR studies complemented with protein chemistry as well as molecular biology to solve biological problems.

Teaching Statement: 

One of the beauties of chemistry is its ability to translate across many disciplines and across many areas of life. Although my passion is for chemistry in particular, one of the greatest goals I have is to teach my students to become motivated, insightful, and enthusiastic thinkers. As an educator I make every effort to engage, challenge, and inspire growth in my students. It is my belief that every student is capable of tasting the passion that I feel for science in general and for chemistry specifically by becoming collaborator, communicator, critical thinker and creator in the exploration of the theory and practice of chemistry. My overarching goal is to inspire growth in my students by giving them tools to take into other disciplines and into other domains of their life. Among these tools are a sense of curiosity, open-mindedness, and a thirst for knowledge.

Representative Publications: 

Shimada, K., Skouta, R., Yang, WS., Hayano, M., Dixon, SJ., Brown, LM., Valenzuela, CA., Wolpaw, AJ., BR., Stockwell. Global Survey of Cell Death Mechanisms Reveals Metabolic Regulation of Ferroptosis. Nature Chemical Biology 2016 12(7):497-503 UTEP Principal Investigator

Skouta, R., Neuroprotective effect of antioxidant compounds. Neural Regen Res. 2016. 11(4):566-7.

Khalil, MF., Valenzuela, C., Sisniega, D., Skouta, R., Narayan, M., ER Protein Processing under oxidative stress: Implications and Prevention. Cell Biochem Biophys. 2016. 74(2):213-20.

Iniguez, E. A., Perez, A., Maldonado, R. A., Skouta, R. Novel arylalkylamine compounds exhibits potent selective antiparasitic activity against Leishmania major. Bioorg. Med. Chem. Lett. 2015. 25(22):5315-20.

Kabiraj, P., Valenzuela, C.A., Marin, J.E., Ramirez, D.A., Mendez, L., Hwang, M.S., Varela- Ramirez, A., Fenelon, K., Narayan, M., Skouta, R., The Neuroprotective Role of Ferrostatin-1 Under Rotenone-Induced Oxidative Stress in Dopaminergic Neuroblastoma Cells. Protein J. 2015. 34(5):349-58.

Linkermann, A., Skouta, R., Himmerkus, N. et. al. Synchronized renal tubular cell death involves ferroptosis. PNAS, 2014. 111, 16836-16841.

Skouta, R., Maldonado, RA., “Antiparasitic Effect of Substituted 5,5,7,7-Tetramethyl-4,5,6,7- Tetrahydrothieno[2,3-C]Pyridine Derivatives” UTE-P0119-US-02R; International Application No. PCT/US15/179,865

Cox, M., Skouta, R., Artem, C., “Pharmaceutical Compositions Directly Targeting FKBP52 for the Treatment of Prostate Cancer and Methods of Using Same” UTFE.P0135WO; International Application No. PCT/US2015/046187.

Skouta, R., Dixon, SJ., Wang, J., Dunn, DE., Orman, M., Shimada, K., Rosenberg, PA., Lo, DC., Weinberg, JM., Linkermann, A. Ferrostatins Inhibit Oxidative Lipid Damage and Cell Death in Diverse Disease Models J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2014. 136(12), 4551-4556.

Dixon, SJ., Patel, DN., Welsch, M., Skouta, R., Lee, ED., Hayano, M., Thomas, AG., Gleason, CE., Tatonetti, NP., Slusher, BS., Stockwell, BR. Pharmacological inhibition of cystine-glutamate exchange induces endoplasmic reticulum stress and ferroptosis, Elife (Cambridge). 2014. May 20;3:e02523.

Yang, WS., SriRamaratnam, R., Welsch, ME., Shimada, K., Skouta, R., Viswanathan, VS., Cheah, JH., Clemons, PA., Shamji, AF., Clish, CB. Regulation of Ferroptotic Cancer Cell Death by GPX4. Cell, 2014. 156(1-2), 317-331.

Skouta. R., Vazquez, H., Schneebeli. S., Kamenetska, R., Breslow. R., Venkataraman., L. Hybertsen. M., Probing the Conductance Superposition Law in Single Molecule Circuits with Parallel Paths Nature Nanotechnology, 2012. 7(10):663-7.

Skouta, R., Hayano, M., Shimada, K., Stockwell, B. R., Design and synthesis of Pictet- Spengler condensation products that exhibit oncogenic-RAS synthetic lethality and induce non-apoptotic cell death. Bioorg. Med. Chem. Lett. 2012. 22, 5707-5713.

Dixon, D., Lemberg, K., Lamprecht, M.R., Skouta, R., Zaitaev, E., Gleason, C., Patel, D., Bauer, A.J., Cantley, A., Yang, W.S., Morrison II, B., Stockwell, B.R. Optimized ferrostatin-1, an inhibitor of ferroptosis. Cell, 2012. 149, 1-13.

Yang, W. S., Shimada, K., Delva, D., Patel, M., Ode, E., Skouta, R., Stockwell, B. R. Identification of Simple Compounds with Microtubule-Binding Activity That Inhibit Cancer Cell Growth with High Potency . ACS Med. Chem. Lett. 2012. 3(1), 35-38.

Wolpaw, A. J., Shimada, K., Skouta. R., Welsch, M. E., Akavia, U. D., Pe’er. D., Shaika. F., Bulinski, J. C., Stockwell, B.R., Modulatory profiling identifies mechanisms of small-molecule-induced cell death PNAS, 2011. 108, 16151-16152.

Herman, A. G., Hayano. M., Poyurovsky. M. V., Shimada. K., Skouta. R., Prives. C., Stockwell. B. R. Discovery of Mdm2-MdmX E3 Ligase Inhibitors Using a Cell-Based Ubiquitination Assay. Cancer Discovery 2011. 1, 312-325.

Skouta. R., Cheng. Z-L., Vazquez, H., Widawsky, J. R., Schneebeli. S., Chen. W., Hybertsen. M. S., Breslow. R., Venkataraman. L. In situ formation of highly conducting covalent Au–C contacts for single-molecule junctions Nature Nanotechnology 2011. 6, 353, 357.

Schneebeli, S. T., Kamenetska, M., Cheng, Z., Skouta, R., Friesner, R. A., Venkataraman, L., Breslow, R., Single-molecule conductance through multiple π-π-stacked benzene rings determined with direct electrode-to-benzene ring connections. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2011. 133, 2136-2139.

Schneebeli, S. T., Kamenetska, M., Foss. F., Vazquez, H., Skouta, R., Hybertsen. M.S., Venkataraman. L., Breslow. R. The Electrical Properties of Biphenylenes. Org. Lett. 2010. 12, 4114-4117.

Skouta, R., Wei, S. Breslow, R. High Rates and Substrate Selectivities in Water by Polyviny imidazoles as Transaminase Enzyme Mimics with Hydrophobically Bound Pyridoxamine Derivatives as Coenzyme Mimics J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2009. 131, 15604-15606.

Wei, S., Wang, J., Venhuizen, S., Skouta, R., Breslow, R. Dendrimers in Solution Can Have Their Remote Catalytic Groups Folded Back into the Core: Enantioselective Transaminations by Dendritic Enzyme Mimics-II. Bioorg. Med. Chem. Lett., 2009. 19, 5543- 5546.

Solhy, A., Tahir, R., Sebti, S., Skouta, R., Bousmina, M., Zahouily, M., Larzek, M., Efficient synthesis ofchalcone derivatives catalyzed by re-usable hydroxyapatite. Applied Catalysis, A: General 2010. 374(1-2), 189-193.

Stockwell, B., Dixon, S., Skouta, R., "Preparation of substituted diaminobenzoates and related compounds as ferrostatin-1 analogs for modulation of ferroptosis useful in treatment of excitotoxic disorders" From PCT Int. Appl. 2013. WO 2013152039 A1 20131010.

Stockwell, B., Skouta, R., Dixon, S., “Preparation of adamantylaminobenzoate derivatives for modulating ferroptosis and treatment of excitotoxic disorders”.
PCT Int. Appl. 2015. WO 2015084749 A1 20150611.

Stockwell, B., Dixon, S., Skouta, R., “Preparation of sorafenib analogs useful in therapy of diseases”. PCT Int. Appl. 2015. WO 2015051149 A1 20150409.

Skouta, R., Selective Chemical Reactions in Supercritical Carbon Dioxide, Water and Ionic Liquids. Green Chemistry Letters and Reviews 2009. 2, 121-156.

Skouta, R., Yu, M., Zhou, L., Jiang, H.-F., Yao, X., Li, C.-J. Water-Triggered, Counter Anion-Controlled and Silver-Phosphines Complex Catalyzed Stereoselective Cascade Alkynylation / Cyclization of Terminal Alkynes with Salicylaldehydes. J. Org. Chem. 2009 74, 3378-3383.

Skouta, R., Li, C.-J. Gold-Catalyzed Efficient Regioselective Addition of Arenes to Allenes. Canadian Journal of Chemistry 2008. 86, 616-620.

Zhou, L., Chen, L., Skouta, R., Jiang, H.-F.; Li, C.-J. Li, Palladium-Catalyzed 1,4-Addition of Terminal Alkynes to Unsaturated Carbonyl Compounds Promoted by Electron-Rich Ligands. Organic and Biomolecular Chemistry 2008. 6, 2969-2977.

Skouta, R., Li, C.-J. Gold(I)-Catalyzed Annulation of Salicylaldehyde and Aryl-acetylenes as an Expedient Route to Isoflavanones. Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., 2007. 46, 1117-1119.

Skouta, R., Li, C.-J. Au(I)-Catalyzed Annulation of 2-Tosylaminobenzaldehyde and Alkynes,Synlett. 2007. 1759-1762.

Skouta, R., Li, C.-J. Rapid Syntheses of (±)-Pterocarpans and Isoflavones via the Gold- Catalyzed Annulation of Aldehydes and Alkynes, Tetrahedron. Lett., 2007. 48, 8343-8346.

Skouta, R., Varma, R. S., Li, C.-J Efficient Trost's-Addition Catalyzed by Reusable Polymer- Supported Triphenylphosphine in Aqueous Media. Green Chem., 2005. 8, 571-575.

Skouta, R., Li, C.-J. Gold-Catalyzed Reactions of C-H Bonds. Tetrahedron, 2008. 64, 4917- 4938

Skouta, R., and Li, C.-J. Gold-Catalyzed Multi Component Reactions. Chapter 6, from the book: ‘Gold Catalysis: An Homogeneous Approach (Catalytic Science Series)’ edited by F Dean Toste& Véronique Michelet July 2012.

Baillargeon, P., Bernard, S., Gauthier, D., Skouta, R., Y. L. Dory, Efficient Synthesis and Astonishing Supramolecular Architectures of Several Symmetric Macrolactams. Chem. Eur. J., 2007. 13, 9223-9235.

Leclair, S., Gauthier, D., Skouta, R., Dory, Y. L.; Zhao, Y. Micrometer-Sized Hexagonal Tubes Self –Assembled by a Cyclic Peptide in a Liquid Crystal. Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., 2004. 43, 349-353.

Skouta, R., Skouta, A., Daguenet, M. Numerical Study of the Transition toward Chaos of Two Dimensional Natural Convection within in an Inclined Square Cavities Adv. Studies Theor. Phys., 2008. 2(1), 37-50.