Medicinal Chemistry

Medicinal Chemistry research in BMED focuses on the design, chemical synthesis and development of bio-active molecules and pharmaceutical agents for a diverse array of biomedically relevant targets, such as the development of diagnostics, therapeutics and imaging agents as applied to a range of pathological conditions including CNS diseases and cancer.

While always an integral part of Pharmacy and therapeutic drug discovery, Medicinal Chemistry has grown to embrace many other facets of "small molecule development and application", including: biomarkers, fluorescent probes, molecular modeling, high-throughput screening, diagnostics, and imaging agents. BMED faculty working in these areas have expertise in synthetic chemistry, analytical chemistry, molecular modeling and structure-activity analysis. Current projects include the development and characterization of small molecules relevant to the cholinergic system, neurotransmitter receptors and transporters, cannabinoids, drug-metabolizing enzymes and transporters, DNA-binding agents, and enzyme-activated prodrugs. In addition to their own research projects, the Medicinal Chemistry faculty are routinely involved in intramural and extramural collaborations, providing much needed reagents to other BMED researchers for physiological, biochemical and pharmacological projects. A list of BMED faculty interests in Medicinal Chemistry can be found below.

Students working in the Medicinal Chemistry labs have pursued their graduate degrees in:

Participating Faculty

Hélène Bazin-lee

Research Professor

Design and synthesis of Toll-like receptor agonists as vaccine adjuvants using structure-activity relationship studies to fine-tune activity, selectivity and potency of these agonists.

Howard D. Beall

Dean Emeritus, Skaggs School of Pharmacy

Discovery of novel, targeted anticancer agents and their mechanisms of action.

David Burkhart

Research Professor, Associate Director of the Center for Translational Medicine

 Targeted drug delivery of anti-cancer agents to improve efficacy while minimizing off-target drug toxicity for the improvement of patient outcomes.

Philippe Diaz

Associate Professor

John Gerdes

Research Professor

Travis Hughes

Associate Professor

Use of computational modeling, biophysical and biochemical methods to guide modification of existing nuclear receptor drugs.

Michael Kavanaugh

Professor, Director McLaughlin Research Institute

Nicholas R. Natale

Professor of Medicinal Chemistry

Monica Serban

Associate Professor

Development of in vitro 3D cell culture systems for drug screening and evaluation.

Andrea Stierle

Research Professor

Development of potent analogs of microbial metabolites with pharmaceutical potenital as potential to act as antibiotics, and compounds that regulate inflammatory and apoptotic pathways associated with cancer and ischemic stroke

Donald Stierle

Research Professor

Development of potent analogs of microbial secondary metabolites with pharmaceutical potential as antibiotics, and compounds that regulate inflammatory and apoptotic pathways associated with cancer and ischemic stroke

Chuck Thompson


My research expertise is in bioorganic and medicinal chemistry with an emphasis in neuroscience.  These interests inlcude organic synthesis, biochemical pharmacology, drug design and drug delivery, and protein mass spectrometry.