My laboratory focuses on synthetic organic chemistry. A major thrust involves the study of microbiome metabolites that have been implicated in colorectal cancer. We are trying to elucidate the structures of the metabolites and their mechanisms of genotoxicity, which will inform therapeutic strategies to combat colorectal cancer. A second focus involves developing new antibiotics to treat drug-resistant bacterial infections. Antibiotic development is, at its core, synthetic organic chemistry, and the synthesis of new antibiotics to treat drug-resistant pathogens has been hamstrung by limitations in chemistry. We seek to address these limitations and establish access to novel antibiotics. Finally we study small molecule–nucleic acid interactions, with the goal of elucidating new modes of DNA binding and molecular mechanisms of DNA damage. Advances in genome sequencing have reignited interest in genotoxic agents. Understanding their mode of interaction with DNA is necessary to leverage these advances toward new chemotherapies.

Awards and Achievements

  • NSF CAREER Award
  • Searle Scholar Award
  • Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship; Cottrell Scholar Award of the Research Corporation for Scientific Advancement
  • American Cancer Society Research Scholar Award
  • Arthur C. Cope Scholar Award of the American Chemical Society
  • Novartis Chemistry Lectureship
  • Synthesis/Synlett Award in Organic Chemistry
  • Elias J. Corey Award for Outstanding Original Contribution in Organic Synthesis by a Young Investigator
  • Thieme–IUPAC Award
  • Tetrahedron Young Investigator Award in Organic Synthesis
  • Defense Science Study Group