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Staff Profile: Noel Southall

Noel T. Southall, Ph.D.

Leader, Informatics

Division of Pre-Clinical Innovation

National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences

National Institutes of Health

E-mail Noel T. Southall

Biography

Noel T. Southall develops software and provides informatics analysis for therapeutic project teams, from interpreting high-throughput screening data to bioinformatics and structure-based modeling to biomarker discovery and development. These activities help move promising projects from screening toward the clinic. Southall earned his Ph.D. in biophysics at the University of California, San Francisco. He also holds an A.B. in chemistry and an M.S. in biochemistry and molecular biology from the University of Chicago. Southall previously worked at Celera Genomics, where he was the scientific lead for the decision-support software Seurat, which was later acquired by Schrödinger. He received the NIH Director’s Award in 2012 and participated in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy’s Open Science “Champions of Change” program in 2013.

Research Topics

Southall has worked in a variety of therapeutic areas, including oncology and antivirals. Most recently, he has worked on therapeutic approaches for rare diseases, including rare cancers and several classes of neurodegenerative disorders.

Beyond discovering new therapeutic tools, Southall is involved in the development of research resources and software tools. He co-directed the development of the NCATS Pharmaceutical Collection, a tool for drug repurposing. He currently is involved in the development of the BioAssay Research Database, which supports the analysis of high-throughput screening data, and the Global Ingredient Archival System, which coordinates ingredient registration among national regulatory agencies. Southall has developed the infrastructure, tools and libraries to facilitate repurposing and has experience prosecuting leads, transitioning to clinical proof-of-concept studies, and generating new molecular entities starting from an existing drug.

One particular rare disease focus for Southall has been lysosomal storage disorders. NCATS’ development of tool compounds to probe this disease biology has opened entirely new avenues of research for neurodegeneration. The scientists in this field are only just beginning to understand the molecular targets involved and to be able to evaluate their druggability.

Selected Publications

  1. Structural Insights into the Activation of Human Relaxin Family Peptide Receptor 1 by Small-Molecule Agonists.
  2. Repurposing of the antihistamine chlorcyclizine and related compounds for treatment of hepatitis C virus infection.
  3. Up-regulation of lysosomal TRPML1 channels is essential for lysosomal adaptation to nutrient starvation.
  4. Macrophage models of Gaucher disease for evaluating disease pathogenesis and candidate drugs.
  5. The NCGC pharmaceutical collection: a comprehensive resource of clinically approved drugs enabling repurposing and chemical genomics.