Chemical Biology

Chemical Biology

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Peixuan Guo, PhD, Sylvan G. Frank Endowed Chair

Peixuan Guo, PhD

Dr. Guo works on both basic research and its subsequent practical applications, focusing on understanding the mechanisms and assembly of viral DNA packaging motor, and using components of the biomotor for various applications. By applying interdisciplinary approaches including chemistry, biophysics, biochemistry, nanotechnology, bioengineering, molecular biology, cell biology, computer modeling, and pharmaceutical sciences, Dr. Guo studies RNA, DNA and proteins and their interaction.

Dr. Guo’s current project areas are:

  1. RNA nanotechnology and its application for the delivery of siRNA/miRNA/drug for the treatment of cancers, viral infection, and genetic diseases
  2. Nanobiotechnology, including structure, function and mechanism of Phi29 DNA-packaging nanomotor
  3. Single molecule imaging and optical instrumentation to study the interaction of RNA, DNA, and protein
  4. Single pore technology for DNA sequencing, macromolecule detection, and disease diagnosis, using channels of variety of viral DNA packaging motors

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Kou-San Ju, PhD
Kou-San Ju, PhD, Assistant Professor

Kou-San Ju, PhD

Dr. Ju is broadly interested in metabolic diversity of microbes and their application to solving modern day challenges in human health and the environment. Working at the interface of chemistry and biology, the Ju laboratory utilizes an interdisciplinary approach to conduct genomics-guided discovery of microbial natural products, decipher the molecular basis of their activity, and to reveal the genetic and biochemical principles governing their biosynthesis. In addition to obtaining insights into the evolution and function of natural product pathways, the results from these studies enable the development of new antibiotics and engineered biocatalysts with biotechnological applications.

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Blake R. Peterson, PhD, Professor

Blake R. Peterson, PhD

Dr. Peterson’s research group is working to discover small molecules that affect the proliferation of cancer cells and associated immune cells that support malignancy. To find these compounds, the Peterson laboratory creates fluorescent molecular probes that are designed to facilitate drug discovery. These probes are used in conjunction with phenotypic drug discovery methods to identify both anticancer agents with novel mechanisms of action and their molecular targets. To optimize and evaluate these compounds, they use synthetic organic chemistry, medicinal chemistry, and chemical biology approaches. These strategies, in conjunction with assays based on confocal microscopy, flow cytometry, and other fluorescence-based techniques, provide a platform for the identification of new therapeutic agents.

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Liva Rakotondraibe, PhD
Liva Rakotondraibe, PhD, Associate Professor

H. Liva Rakotondraibe, PhD

Dr. H. Liva Rakotondraibe focuses on the unique chemistry of living organisms to identify bioactive (e.g., antiproliferative, cytotoxic, antimalarial, and insecticidal) organic small-molecule natural product compounds. As source materials, his group utilizes underexplored organisms such as endophytic microorganisms from liverworts, mycobionts of lichens, and endemic medicinal plants of Madagascar. For recent work, lichens have been sourced from coastal areas of the United States.

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