Robert H. Cichewicz
NATURAL PRODUCTS DRUG DISCOVERY
Studying the molecular-level regulation of secondary metabolite production in fungi
Fungi are a rich source of bioactive compounds
New fungal species are obtained from diverse terrestrial and aquatic habitats
Microbial natural products are the unique compounds produced by fungi and bacteria. These compounds play important roles helping microorganisms adapt to their environment. Natural products exhibit a diverse array of novel structures and tend to be bioactive (e.g., function as enzyme inhibitors, cell signaling agents, toxins, and other roles), which makes these biomolecules an important resource for the development of new pharmaceuticals. Our lab focuses on using secondary metabolites from fungi and bacteria for the treatment of human diseases such as life-threatening infections and neurodegenerative disorders. By combining the exploration of new environmental niches (e.g., insects, Arctic soils, human body, and others) with novel techniques for controlling their production (e.g., chemical epigenetics), we are uncovering highly unusual metabolites with promising therapeutic applications. This approach has yielded many promising natural products and some of our compounds have entered into advanced preclinical testing. Our lab, the University of Oklahoma Natural Products Discovery Group, is actively recruiting new members to help in the search for novel drug leads. Prospective students in the areas of analytical and organic chemistry, as well as biochemistry are encouraged to contact us to find out more about current research opportunities.
natural products; drug discovery; chemical epigenetics