Yousong Ding, Ph.D.

Yousong Ding

Assistant Professor

Medicinal Chemistry

OFFICE: Medical Science Building, P6-27


PHONE: 352-273-7742

CV: Link to CV



  • 2012-2013       Principal Scientist, Bioprocess Development Group, Pfizer, Kalamazoo, MI
  • 2010-2012       Postdoctoral Fellow, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA
  • 2004-2010       Ph.D. in Medicinal Chemistry, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
  • 2001-2004       M.S. Chemistry, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE
  • 1996-2000       B.S. Applied Chemistry, Peking University, China

Biographical Sketch

Yousong Ding, Ph.D., an assistant professor of medicinal chemistry, received his B.S. in applied chemistry from Peking University.  He pursued his M.S. studies about fungal secondary metabolite biosynthesis at the University of Nebraska under the direction of Dr. Liangcheng Du.  He further expanded his expertise in the natural product field during his Ph.D. training with Dr. David Sherman at the University of Michigan.  Dr. Ding then worked as a postdoctoral scholar in Dr. Frances H. Arnold’s laboratory at the California Institute of Technology.  In the Arnold laboratory, he applied principles of protein engineering and synthetic biology to develop biocatalysts for the production of valuable chemicals and to understand herbicide metabolism.  His long-term interests in developing drug molecules led him to take a position in Pfizer.  This position allowed him to gain experience in pharmaceutical bioprocess development, and correspondingly he generated various types of biocatalysts used in bio-routes for lowering manufacturing costs of several drugs.  In 2013, Dr. Ding started his position as an assistant professor in the Department of Medicinal Chemistry at the University of Florida.  His research interests include natural product biosynthesis, drug discovery and development, synthetic biology, protein engineering, and chemical biology.

Research Interests

One primary goal of the Ding laboratory is to discover and develop small molecules and biologics as new therapeutic leads that address significant unmet medical needs such as drugs for obesity, cardiovascular, cancer, and infectious diseases.  Nature offers a vast array of small molecules that have inspired the development of a number of marketed drugs, and continuously serve as a prolific source of new drug leads.  The Ding laboratory is particularly interested in deciphering and employing the biosynthetic logics of these small molecules for drug discovery.  One strategy employed in the laboratory involves identification and analysis of natural product biosynthetic systems from microbial genome data, heterologous production of encoded chemicals, structure determination, and bioactivity evaluation.  Through designing novel production routes, developing capable hosts, and creating new/improved biocatalysts, the Ding laboratory will optimize chemical productivity and diversify structures of select candidates.  In another research area, the Ding laboratory is interested in developing biocatalysts from different types of enzymes in natural products biosynthetic pathways and employing them to produce value-added chemicals.  Researchers in the Ding laboratory gain broad training spanning organic chemistry, medicinal chemistry, biochemistry, microbiology, molecular biology, cell biology, protein engineering, synthetic biology, and bioprocess development.

Group Members


  • Guang Yang (Ph.D., School of Bioscience and Biotechnology, University of Camerino, Italy)
  • Ran Zuo (4th yr, M.S. in Biochemistry and Cell Biology, Chinese Academy of Sciences)
  • Guangde Jiang (3rd yr, M.S. in Medicinal Chemistry, China Pharmaceutical University)
  • Peilan Zhang (3rd yr, B.S. in Pharmacy, Sichuan University)
  • Yi Zhang (3rd yr, M.S. in Medicinal Chemistry, China Pharmaceutical University)
  • Magan Powell (undergraduate, sophomore)
  • Nicholas Lee (undergraduate, senior, Chemistry major)
  • Monica Cozad (undergraduate, third year, Microbiology and Cell Science)
  • Kyle Volland (undergraduate, Pre-Pharmacy major)
  • XiaoBin Chen (PharmD, third year)

Former (18):

  • Julius Chai (Grade 12)
  • Padmavathi Reddy (Grade 12)
  • Kimberly Loudermilk (undergraduate)
  • Sunny Aroda (undergraduate)
  • Nina Jovic (undergraduate)
  • Evelina Dedic (undergraduate)
  • Erica Christenson (undergraduate)
  • Harrison J Bonilla (undergraduate)
  • Mishal P Mehta (undergraduate)
  • Wesley Dickerson (undergraduate)
  • Nilay S Dharma (undergraduate)
  • Julian Rashid (Pharm. D. student)
  • Sara Kearny (visiting scientist, Wheaton College)
  • Jada Brooks (undergraduate, Bethune-Cookman University)
  • Joshua L McBride (Pharm. D. student)
  • Hongfen Yang (volunteer)
  • Yu Shan (visiting scholar)
  • Tariq Ismail (visiting scholar).


University of Florida Affiliations

  • Center for Natural Products, Drug Discovery and Development (CNPD3)
  • Emerging Pathogens Institute (EPI)
  • UF Health Cancer Center

Ding Lab Publications

  1. Li K, Condurso H, Li G, Ding Y, Bruner, SD. Precursor protein-directed peptide macrocyclization in ribosomal peptide biosynthetic pathways, Nat. Chem. Biol. Accepted.
  2. Zhang Y, Bignell DR, Zuo R, Fan Q, Huguet-Tapia JC, Ding Y, Loria R. Promiscuous pathogenicity islands and phylogeny of pathogenic Streptomyces Mol Plant Microbe Interact. 2016, 29: 640-650.
  3. Zhang Y, Xie C, Wang H, Foss RM, Clare M, George EV, Li S, Katz A, Cheng H, Ding Y, Tang D, Reeves WH, Yang LJ. Irisin exerts dual effects on browning and adipogenesis of human white adipocytes. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2016, 311: E530-541.
  4. Tu D, Cheng X, Gao Y, Yang P, Ding Y, Jiang C. Palladium-catalysed direct C-2 methylation of indoles. Org Biomol Chem. 2016, 14: 7443-7446.
  5. Zuo R, Garrison AT, Basak A, Zhang P, Huigens RW*, Ding Y*. In vitro antifungal and antibiofilm activities of halogenated quinoline analogues against Candida albicans and Cryptococcus neoformans. Int. J. Antimicrob. Agents. 2016, 48: 208-211. (*: co-corresponding author)
  6. Le J, Gao Y, Ding Y*, Jiang C*. Cu-mediated C2-dehydrogenative homocoupling of indoles via C-H activation assisted by a removable N-pyrimidyl group. Tetrahedron Lett. 2016, 57, 1728-1731 (*: co-corresponding author)
  7. Zuo R, Zhang Y, Huguet-Tapia JC, Mehta M, Dedic E, Bruner SD, Loria R, Ding Y. An artificial self-sufficient cytochrome P450 directly nitrates fluorinated tryptophan analogs with different regio-selectivity. Biotechnol. J. 2016 Jan 7. doi: 10.1002/biot.201500416.
  8. Zhang Y, Loria R, Ding Y. Applications of natural products from soil microbes. Soil Ecosystem Services doi:10.2136/2015.soilecosystemsservices.2015.0023
  9. Xie C, Zhang Y, Tran TD, Wang H, Li S, George EV, Zhuang H, Zhang P, Kandel A, Lai Y, Tang D, Reeves WH, Cheng H, Ding Y*, Yang LJ*. Irisin controls growth, intracellular Ca2+ signals, and mitochondrial thermogenesis in cardiomyoblasts. Plos One 2015, 10: e0136816. (*: co-corresponding author)
  10. Yang G, Ding Y. Recent advances in biocatalyst discovery, development and their applications. Bioorg. Med. Chem. 2014, 22: 5604-5612.

Selected Publications Prior to Independent Career

  1. Ding Y, Rath CM, Bolduc KL, Håkansson K, Sherman DH. Chemoenzymatic synthesis of cryptophycin anticancer agents by an ester bond-forming non-ribosomal peptide synthetase module. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2011, 133:14492-14495.
  2. Ding Y, Wet JR, Cavalcoli J, Li S, Greshock TJ, Miller KA, Finefield JM, Sunderhaus JD, McAfoos TJ, Tsukamoto S, Williams RM, Sherman DH Genome-based characterization of two prenylation steps in the assembly of the stephacidin and notoamide anticancer agents in a marine Aspergillus J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2010, 132: 12733-12740.
  3. Ding Y, Gruschow S, Greshock TJ, Finefield J, Sherman DH, Williams RW. Detection of VM55599 and Pre-paraherquamide from Aspergillus japonicus and Penicillium fellutanum: Biosynthetic Implications. J. Nat. Prod. 2008, 71: 1574-1578
  4. Ding Y, Williams RM, Sherman DH. Isolation and characterization of a 4-dimethylallyltryptophan synthase from Malbranchea aurantiaca. J. Biol. Chem. 2008, 283: 16068-16076
  5. Ding Y, Seufert WH, Beck ZQ, Sherman DH. Analysis of the cryptophycin P450 epoxidase reveals substrate tolerance and cooperativity. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2008, 130: 5492-5498