the sklar laboratory

Biographical Highlights in New Mexico

Dr. Sklar was recruited to New Mexico to lead the National Flow Cytometry Resource at Los Alamos and to develop a biotechnology research program at the University of New Mexico. From 1990-2002 he served as Director or Co-Director of the P41 National Flow Cytometry Resource at Los Alamos (P41RR01315) with responsibilities in research, collaboration, service, training, and dissemination. Beginning in 1998, Sklar led a team of colleagues in the development of high throughput flow cytometry for signal transduction and drug discovery. This work began as an NIH-funded Bioengineering Research Partnership (BRP GM60799/EB00264), funded in the inaugural year of that NIH program and bringing together cell and molecular biology, biophysics, instrumentation hardware and software and microfluidics. This team was involved in discovery research that involved membrane steroid receptors of the G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) class and has discovered small molecules that differentiate the classical nuclear estrogen receptors from the novel membrane estrogen receptors. The team has also developed real-time methods to examine affinity, avidity and conformation of integrin receptors involved in cell adhesion (R01 HL08162).

The team has continued evolving and innovating to use high throughput flow cytometry for small molecule discovery as an NIH Roadmap Molecular Libraries Screening Center (1U54MH074425) and then as a Probe Production Center (1U54MH084690). Continuing team innovation and evolution includes support for drug development, testing and formulation through the Chemical Biology Consortium of the NCI Experimental Therapeutics Program. Current small molecule targets drug efflux transporters (with Larson and Winter), signaling and receptor systems (with Edwards, Oprea, and Prossnitz), integrins and leukocyte biology (with Larson and Chigaev), and GTPases (with Wandinger-Ness and Oprea), as well as yeast as model systems, virus-cell interactions (with Buranda), bacterial pathogenesis, and Data Science (Oprea). Sklar has led or contributed to competitive funding applications resulting in programmatic discovery funding totaling more than $50M in the last two decades.

Trained as a physical chemist, but working with commercial partners, physicians, biomedical researchers, and National Lab engineers and physicists, Sklar has a long history translating between medical and non-medical researchers. He has mentored more than 60 trainees including faculty and a team of freshman high school girls at Sandia Prep in a drug discovery project supported by his BRP grant that won the New Mexico State Supercomputing Competition in 2000. He has more than 400 publications and patents in the areas of leukocyte biology, molecular assembly in signal transduction and cell adhesion, and innovative technology for molecular assembly and drug discovery.

Sklar’s activities have contributed in a significant way to the Health Sciences Center’s intellectual property portfolio and led to the incorporation of a startup company, IntelliCyt, in Albuquerque. Co-invented by Sklar at UNM, and commercialized by IntelliCyt, the HyperCyt high through flow cytometry platform is now available at more than 350 sites globally, with an impact in high throughput screening, antibody discovery, personalized medicine, and immuno-oncology. IntelliCyt’s success and acquisition by Sartorius serve as a model for commercialization critical to the economic development of our region.

Sklar’s contribution to infrastructure at UNM HSC has included the W.M. Keck Foundation small animal isotope imaging resource, the award of $9.6M for renovation and capital equipment for the conversion of Tri-Services Building to the Innovation, Discovery and Training Complex and the recent acquisition of an acoustic fluid dispensing system. IDTC houses the University of New Mexico Center for Molecular Discovery, Center for Digestive Disease Research, and the Department of Emergency Medicine. Through awards from NIH (R24 CA88399) and others, Sklar has also contributed to the development of Cancer Center Shared Resources, NIEHS Center Biotechnology Core, and CTSC Translational Technology Resource. Sklar leads the Drug Rescue, Repurposing, and Repositioning Network for the UNM Clinical and Translational Science Center. Sklar’s activities have recently been recognized by the 2016 UNM Presidential Award of Distinction.