Center for Natural Products, Drug Discovery and Development (CNPD3)

Dr. Luesh Diving

Video by Chris Bilowich, UF Health News: (click image to view) UF Researcher, Center Director Hendrik Luesch Ph.D., collects marine organisms from Florida Keys that have potential for development into drug therapies and for disease prevention.



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The mission of the Center for Natural Products, Drug Discovery and Development, or CNPD3, is to foster early-stage drug discovery by providing the infrastructure, chemical libraries and expertise to screen for disease-relevant targets and for drug-like disease-modifying molecules that modulate target activity. The CNPD3 provides the academic home for the identification of drug leads and subsequent development campaigns carried out in concert with other biomedical centers at the University of Florida to drive forward preclinical and clinical drug development.


The chemical focus of the CNPD3 is on unique natural products, and the goal is to fully exploit the biosynthetic and therapeutic potential of untapped biodiversity for drug discovery. Candidate compounds are investigated for further development through interactive chemistry and pharmacology efforts.

Education & Training

The educational and training objective is to integrate all Ph.D. graduate students and postdoctoral fellows whose interdisciplinary interests are focused on drug discovery. The CNPD3 provides drug discovery expertise and the infrastructure to screen for novel targets and chemical entities that modulate target activity.


The center embraces all aspects of natural products research from discovery, biosynthesis and chemical synthesis, assay development, screening and target identification to drug development. CNPD3 members prepare and annotate diverse natural and synthetic chemical libraries for screening and subsequent medicinal chemistry efforts and use genomic approaches to manipulate microbial natural products chemistry.

  • Natural Products Discovery
  • Synthesis of Natural Products and Natural Product-Like Libraries
  • Drug Design and Medicinal Chemistry
  • Biosynthetic Engineering
  • Targets and Pharmacology
  • PK/PD and Development
  • Drug Metabolism
  • Screening in Model Organisms


The CNPD3 provides the infrastructure to screen for novel targets and chemical entities that modulate target activity. Target discovery and validation require genomic scale libraries for overexpression, or gain-of-function, and siRNA-mediated knockdown, or loss-of-function. Validated targets are screened against drug-like small molecule libraries. Assays are miniaturized and made “HTS-ready.” Hits are optimized and developed into probes and/or drug candidates through medicinal chemistry and pharmaceutical development campaigns. To complement these activities, genomes of unexplored microbes will be analyzed for biosynthetic potential to discover new natural products that are not expressed under “standard” conditions. Additionally, the CNPD3 explores the scientific basis of selected nutraceuticals and dietary supplements. Prioritized compounds could also be evaluated by the Translational Drug Development Core which provides services and expertise in bioanalytical drug metabolism and preclinical pharmacokinetics