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Medicinal Chemistry

Graduate studies in the Department of Medicinal Chemistry are dedicated to research and education at the interface of the chemical and biological sciences. The graduate program is devoted to the education and training of students to become creative and independent investigators for positions in academic, industrial or government settings. Toward this end the graduate curriculum is an interdisciplinary composition of courses covering the major areas of contemporary medicinal chemistry. Students seeking admission must hold at least a B.S. degree in chemistry, biology, pharmacy, or a related area.

Our Research

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Our mission is to create new knowledge for the discovery and development of new pharmaceutical drugs. Our faculty are nationally and internationally recognized for their innovative scientific contributions in basic and applied research.

Current faculty research areas include:

  • Discovery of marine natural products with therapeutic activity for cancer, infectious diseases, and neuropathic pain
  • Use synthetic biology approaches to understand the chemistry of life in the natural environment
  • The development of molecular dynamics and free energy simulation methodologies (AMBER and CHARMM) and their application to proteins, nucleic acids and lipids in their native environments
  • Study the environmental dependence of nucleic acids and how the structure and dynamics of nucleic acids are influenced by their environment.
  • Utilize DNA-encoded libraries that consist of collections of small molecules that have an appended DNA-tag for high-throughput drug discovery.
  • Combine basic organic chemistry research with drug delivery approaches to pioneer new types of localized drugs using biorthogonal chemistry.
  • Development and application of novel chemical probes to investigate protein phosphatase activity and regulation during cellular signaling,
  • Investigation of the impact of protein phosphorylation on structure and function and identifying protein phosphatase inhibitors for use as therapeutic lead compounds.
  • Study how the deposition, removal, and recognition of histone post -translational modifications (PTMs) are regulated and what downstream effects these PTMs have on DNA-mediated processes.
  • Development of fluorescent sensors for metabolites and histone post-translational modifications (PTMs) for obtaining detailed metabolite/PTM profiles in live cells
  • Develop novel strategies to investigate regulatory installation and functional outcomes of RNA modifications,. specifically for pseudouridine.
  • Develop methodologies to address technology barriers in the field of epitranscriptomics.
  • Developing a wide variety of chemical biology tools to define the biosynthetic pathways of heparan sulfate and related glycosaminoglycans (GAG) such as chondroitin sulfate and dermatan sulfate
  • Targeting the translation of viral mRNAs that are obligated to use human cellular processes to provide therapeutics against coronavirus variants and future pandemic viruses.
  • Develop drug-device combination therapies which simultaneously target a disease at molecular and behavioral levels. The molecular-behavioral combination therapies consist of pharmaceutical drugs and disease self-management content which I are delivered via digital therapeutics

Darrell R. Davis, Ph.D

Medicinal Chemistry Department Chair

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Research Areas