Dr. Hendrik Luesch chairs prestigious Gordon Research Conference on Marine Natural Products

Hendrik Luesch, Ph.D., a professor and chair of medicinal chemistry in the University of Florida College of Pharmacy, presided over the Gordon Research Conference, or GRC, on Marine Natural Products, March 10-15, in Ventura, California. Recognized as the preeminent gathering for marine natural products researchers, the conference attracted 200 scientists from every continent to discuss the latest developments in the field.

Dr. Hendrik Luesch

The theme of this year’s conference was “Enabling Technologies, Discovery, Production, Function and Applications.” Nearly four dozen speakers, including Yousong Ding, Ph.D., an associate professor of medicinal chemistry at the UF College of Pharmacy, presented around eight central themes. The event culminated in the keynote and Paul J. Scheuer award session.

  • Enabling Technologies and Data Platforms for MNP Research
  • Genomics-Driven Discovery
  • Synthetic Biology for Natural Product Production
  • Synthesis-Driven Discovery, Development and Advanced Conjugation Technologies
  • Marine Natural Products in Environmental Context: Chemical Ecology and Symbiosis
  • Integrated Approaches to Structure and Function
  • Molecular Targets and Mechanisms
  • Structural Diversity from Untapped Biodiversity Libraries
  • Keynote Session: Inspirational Natural Products Research

Luesch, who also serves as the Debbie and Sylvia DeSantis Chair in Natural Products Drug Discovery and Development, was elected chair of the conference in 2020. He leveraged his extensive connections in marine natural products research to assemble a program that featured 47 speakers and 122 poster presentations.

“The oceans connect all of us. It was an honor to develop an intense and cutting-edge scientific program that represented the global interest and diverse aspects of marine natural products research,” Luesch said. “The conference underscored the high level of innovation in the field and allowed many early career researchers and trainees to participate in the conference.”

Several alumni and trainees from the Luesch lab participated in the conference.

The event’s success was amplified by the participation of alumni, postdoctoral associates and graduate students who have benefited from Luesch’s mentorship. Among the alumni contributors were Lilibeth Salvador-Reyes, Ph.D., ’13, a professor at the University of the Philippines, Fatma Al-Awadhi, M.S., ’14, Ph.D., ’17, an assistant professor at Kuwait University, and Jason Kwan, Ph.D., ’10, an associate professor at the University of Wisconsin. Sofia Kokkaliari, Ph.D., a postdoctoral associate in the Luesch lab at UF, presented at the seminar proceeding the GRC, while several current students and other postdoctoral associates presented posters.

The UF College of Pharmacy, the UF Center for Natural Products Drug Discovery and Development, the National Institutes of Health and several pharmaceutical companies were among 20 sponsors of the conference.