Mark J. Olsen PhD

Associate Professor

Midwestern University
College of Pharmacy - Glendale
Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences
Glendale Hall 236-18
FAX: (623)572-3565


BS Pharmaceutical Science University of Wisconsin - Madison
PhD Chemistry University of Texas at Austin
Post-Doc MIT

Mark Olsen, Ph.D. is a tenured Associate Professor in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences of Midwestern University.  He began working in a medicinal chemistry laboratory at Adria Laboratories (now part of Pfizer) at the age of 14, and soon began training with Dr. Donald T. Witiak from the Department of Medicinal Chemistry, The Ohio State University from 1987-1994.  His work involved proprietary projects in collaboration with Adria for the synthesis of arylhydroxytetronic acids and bisdioxopiperazines.  Dr. Olsen graduated from the University of Wisconsin - Madison with a BS in Pharmaceutical Science, and attended graduate school at the University of Texas at Austin in the Department of Chemistry, where he worked under Dr. Brent Iverson and Dr. George Georgiou on the synthesis of fluorescent probes for high throughput enzyme engineering in the Department of Chemistry.  Due to the success of the high-throughput enzyme screening enabled by custom organic synthesis, Dr. Olsen did his post-doctoral studies with Dr. K. Dane Wittrup at MIT in the field of yeast cell surface display anti-EGFR antibody engineering.  Other projects included isolation of antibodies to glycosaminoglycans in collaboration with the laboratory of Dr. Ram Sasisekharan, and participating in a collaborative project for the high-throughput screening of HRP enzymes with Dr. Alexander Klibanov.

In April of 2004, Dr. Olsen accepted a faculty position as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Math., Chemistry, and Physics at West Texas A&M University (WTAMU) in Canyon, Texas (outside of Amarillo, Texas) on the Texas Panhandle.  In November of 2004, Dr. Olsen had a son born with a severe neurological birth defect.  Despite his professional success in creating a robust research program and recruiting high quality chemistry graduate students, Dr. Olsen needed to find a location with a major Children's Hospital.   In December of 2008, Dr. Olsen began his current position as Associate Professor of Medicinal Chemistry in the Department of Pharmaceutical Science at Midwestern University - College of Pharmacy Glendale in Glendale, Arizona.  Dr. Olsen has developed an interest in inhibition of prolyl-4-hydroxylase for the treatment of spinal cord injury and epilepsy, and has recently synthesized a novel family of blood-brain barrier penetrating 2-oxoglutarate mimics that include inhibition of KDM, PHD, FTO, and ASPH with applications in a number of disease states including cancer and Alzheimer's disease.  The ASPH inhibitors in particular have potent anti-invasive and anti-metastatic activity, and display excellent in vivo against challenging solid tumors, including hepatocellular carcinoma, pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC), and mammary carcinoma.  Investigations into pediatric tumors, an area of personal significance, is ongoing.  Dr. Olsen's laboratory is ideally equipped for traditional medicinal chemistry, with a full complement of chemical fume hoods, glassware, organic solvent storage, HPLC with numerous detectors, various vacuum systems, UV-vis and FTIR, and lyophilizer.  Based upon a US patent application, two PCT applications covering FTO and ASPH modulators (with Dr. Jack Wands) have been filed, an additional US provisional has been filed and license negotiations are pending.

Recent Publications

Rowles J, Olsen MJ. "Perspectives on the Development of Antioxidant Antiepileptogenic Agents." Mini-Rev. Med. Chem12(10):1015-27, 2012.  

Rowles J, Karr S, Gurney MK, Brownlow W, Garza M, Olsen M. "Description of a Facile, Rapid, and Inexpensive Method to Profile for the Organic Cation Transporter (OCT1) Del420 Variant." IJLBPR. 1(3):36-41, 2012.  

Rowles J, Wong M, Powers R, Olsen M. "FTO, RNA epigenetics and epilepsy." Epigenetics. 7(10):1094-7, 2012.  

Zheng G, Cox T, Tribbey L, Wang GZ, Iacoban P, Booher ME, Rowles J, Gabriel GJ, Bae N, He C, Olsen MJ. "Synthesis of a FTO Inhibitor with Anticonvulsant Activity." ACS Chemical Neuroscience.  5(8):658-65, 2014.  

Aihara A, Huang C-K, Olsen MJ, Lin Q, Chung W, Dong X, Wands JR. "A Cell Surface β-Hydroxylase is a Biomarker and Therapeutic Target for Hepatocellular Carcinoma" Hepatology.  60(4):1302-13, 2014.  

Dong X, Lin Q, Aihara A, Li Y, Huang CK, Chung W, Tang Q, Chen X, Carlson R, Nadolny C, Gabriel G, Olsen M, Wands JR. "Aspartate β-Hydroxylase expression promotes a malignant pancreatic cellular phenotype." Oncotarget. 6(2):1231-48, 2015.  

Iwagami Y, Huang CK, Olsen MJ, Thomas JM, Jang G, Kim M, Lin Q, Carlson RI, Wagner CE, Dong X, Wands JR. "Aspartate β-hydroxylase Modulates Cellular Senescence via Glycogen Synthase Kinase 3β in Hepatocellular Carcinoma" Hepatology, 63(4):1213-26, 2016.

Huang CK, Iwagami Y, Aihara A, Chung W, de la Monte S, Thomas JM, Olsen M, Carlson R, Yu T, Dong X, Wands J. "Antitumor Effects of Second Generation of beta-hydroxylase Inhibitors on Cholangiocarcinoma Development and Progression." PLoS One, 11(3):e0150336, 2016.

Singh B, Kinne HE, Milligan RD, Washburn LJ, Olsen M, Lucci A. "Important Role of FTO in the Survival of Rare Panresistant Triple-Negative Inflammatory Breast Cancer Cells Facing a Severe Metabolic Challenge" PLoS One, 11(7):e0159072, 2016.

Perczel A, Atanasov AG, Sklenář V, Nováček J, Papoušková V, Kadeřávek P, Žídek L, Kozłowski H, Wątły J, Hecel A, Kołkowska P, Koča J, Svobodová-Vařeková R, Pravda L, Sehnal D, Horský V, Geidl S, Enriz RD, Matějka P, Jeništová A, Dendisová M, Kokaislová A, Weissig V, Olsen M, Coffey A, Ajuebor J, Keary R, Sanz-Gaitero M, van Raaij MJ, McAuliffe O, Waltenberger B, Mocan A, Šmejkal K, Heiss EH, Diederich M, Musioł R, Košmrlj J, Polański J, Jampílek J. "The Eighth Central European Conference "Chemistry towards Biology": Snapshot." Molecules, 21(10). pii: E1381 2016.

Sturla LM, Tong M, Hebda N, Gao J, Thomas JM, Olsen M, de la Monte SM. "Aspartate-β-hydroxylase (ASPH): A potential therapeutic target in human malignant gliomas." Heliyon, 2(12):e00203, 2016.