NIH/NIGMS Chemistry-biology interface predoctoral training program at the university of florida
The predoctoral training program led by researchers at the University of Florida will help train the next generation of biomedical scientists and interface their interests in chemistry and biology. Through this training program, UF is preparing young scientists with the skills to pursue successful careers in the biomedical workforce.
“Biomedical research is an essential area where we need to train more researchers who can develop scientific knowledge and technology, and contribute to human health and a high-tech economy,” – Chenglong Li, Ph.D.
Program Summary and TRAINEE BENEFITS
The UF Chemistry-Biology Interface Predoctoral Training Program is funded by the National Institutes of Health/National Institute of General Medical Sciences and aims to provide training and support for the development of the research careers of trainees, as well as to enhance the quality of graduate training broadly at the University of Florida. The activities are designed to train students to recognize and address modern research problems that cut across the traditional boundaries of chemistry and biology. They integrate modern technological advances in experimental approaches, provides professional development skills and career guidance, in a manner consistent with developing an inclusive and supportive training community. The following are among the many trainee benefits of the program:
- Core courses in Chemical Biology and Drug Design within a flexible and customizable curriculum
- Monthly UF Chemistry-Biology Interface Trainer/Trainee Chalk Talk series of research in progress seminars
- Participation in the yearly UF Drug Discovery Symposium
- Participation in the biennial Florida Heterocyclic and Synthetic Chemistry (FloHet) Conference on heterocyclic and synthetic organic chemistry
- A yearly UF Chemistry-Biology Interface Orientation providing a forum for feedback on program activities
- Training in principles of rigorous analysis of scientific data and reproducible research methods
- Training in scientific communication skills
- A continuing commitment to inclusion, diversity, and science outreach
- A vibrant UF Chemistry-Biology Interface training community that fosters collaborative research
- Mentorship of junior trainers by senior faculty
- NIGMS standard trainee stipend and tuition is provided
Professor of Medicinal Chemistry and the Nicholas Bodor Professor in Drug Discovery
Professor of Chemistry
The UF-CBI Training Faculty consists of more than 30 full-time tenure track faculty members drawn primarily from the Departments of Chemistry and Medicinal Chemistry, which provide a strong cohesive core of faculty trainers.
The Steering Committee is responsible for the overall program administration and executive decision
current and past trainees
Elijah received his bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the University of Florida in the spring of 2021. He joined Dr. Rebecca Butcher’s lab in the following fall, where he primarily focuses on characterizing the biosynthesis of the nemamides
— hybrid polyketide-nonribosomal peptides that promote nematode survival in starvation conditions. In parallel, he is investigating the bioactivity of the euglenatides — nemamide-like natural products recently discovered in the unicellular flagellate algae Euglena gracilis. The most abundant euglenatide, known as euglenatide B, exhibits antiproliferative activity in some cancer cell lines. He is interested in characterizing the mechanism of action of the euglenatides and, by proxy, the nemamides.
David Blanco received his Bachelors of Science in Chemistry (2019) and his Masters of Science in Biomedical Sciences (2021) from Florida Atlantic University. After his masters, he entered the UF College of Pharmacy’s Ph.D. program in the Medicinal Chemistry department and began working under Dr. Robert Huigens. His research is primarily focused on the synthesis and development of novel halogenated phenazine analogues for the eradication of bacterial biofilms which current antibiotics are incapable of targeting. Additionally, he is using transcript profiling in combination with select biofilm eradicating small molecule probes to define molecular targets and cellular pathways critical to biofilm viability.
Larissa Oriana Silva received her bachelor’s degrees in Chemistry and Economics from Williams College in 2020. During this time, Larissa was a Gates Millennium Scholar and trained in several chemistry and biology research labs. She joined Dr. Matthew Eddy’s group in the UF Department of Chemistry in the Fall of 2021. Currently, she is investigating the dynamic process of GPCR-G protein complex formation, a key step in many cell signaling processes, by leveraging biophysical experiments including NMR spectroscopy. These experiments will allow Larissa to visualize G protein-receptor recognition and further our understanding of how drugs influence this process. In parallel, she will be studying how small molecules act as allosteric modulators of GPCRs, including with potential Alzheimer’s targets such as purinergic receptor proteins.
Alexis Smith received her bachelor’s degree in Medicinal-Pharmaceutical Chemistry with a minor in Biology from the University of Dayton in 2020. She then joined the Ph.D. program in the medicinal chemistry department at the University of Florida under the mentorship of Dr. Guangrong Zheng. Her research in the Zheng lab centers on the design and synthesis of novel anticancer drugs through the application of PROTAC technology, expanding current therapies through exploration of new protein targets and optimizing the structure of active compounds for potent degradation.
Alsup is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Florida. In 2019, he earned his B.S. in Cell and Molecular Biology, while focusing on marine natural products research. His research in the Rudolf lab is aimed at the discovery of novel bacterial terpenoids and characterization of key biosynthetic machinery responsible for the impressive chemical diversity of the bacterial terpenome.
ADVISOR: Jeffrey Rudolf
Burke graduated in 2020 from Cornell University in Ithaca, NY with a degree in Biological Sciences, concentrating in molecular and cell biology. He joined the Zheng Lab in the Department of Medicinal Chemistry the following fall, exploring chemical synthesis and modifications for anticancer drug candidates and PROTAC technology. His interests lie in application of novel synthetic approaches to medicinal chemistry in a more effective and greener way than traditional chemistry approaches. Matthew was appointed this fall as a new T32 pre-doctoral fellow, and will continue to explore the interface of chemistry and biology during the next few years as a PhD student.
ADVISOR: Guangrong Zheng
Jessica Mamallapalli received her bachelor’s in Chemistry with a concentration in Biochemistry in 2018 from the University of North Florida in Jacksonville. She joined the Ph.D. program in the medicinal chemistry department at the University of Florida under Dr. Chengguo Xing’s mentoring. She has a great passion for utilizing the Eastern philosophy of medicine—using remedies given to us by nature to be in homeostasis from the inside out — to treat various health conditions. Dr. Xing’s lab studies the effects of kava (Piper methysticum) on various phenotypes in relation to smoking and lung cancer. Her research involves studying kava’s effects on stress and lung cancer and how the two may be intertwined. This entails a multiple-perspective approach including cellular mechanistic studies and bioanalytical applications in clinical studies. The hope is that this will lead to the development of a kava-based psychotropic and chemotherapeutic treatment, a natural alternative addressing both mental and physical health.
ADVISOR: Chengguo Xing
Emma Mulry received her bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Clemson University in 2019. She joined the Ph.D. program at the University of Florida in chemical biology under Dr. Matthew Eddy’s mentoring the following summer. Her research in the lab focuses on forming protein-polymer conjugates and studying the effects on thermodynamics and protein unfolding pathways. She also studies human G protein-coupled receptors, including histamine receptors. She is highly motivated and driven by the potential use of stable protein-polymer conjugates and small molecules as therapeutics in anticancer treatments. ADVISOR: Matthew Eddy
Lobna Elsadek received her bachelor’s in pharmacy (2017) from Cairo University in Egypt. In 2018, she joined the Ph.D. program in the medicinal chemistry department at the University of Florida under Dr. Hendrik Luesch’s mentoring. She is highly motivated and fueled by her goal to discover new anticancer and antifungal agents and to understand their mechanism of action at the molecular level. Her research employs a wide array of mechanistic studies to enable unbiased assessment of cellular targets, which is necessary to mine for novel biology/targets.
ADVISOR: Hendrik Luesch
Michael Goertzen II received his bachelor’s in Chemistry in 2019 from Wingate University. He joined the Ph.D. program in the medicinal chemistry department at the University of Florida under Dr. Robert Huigens’ mentoring. His research in the Huigens’ lab focuses on developing new ring cleavage and ring fusion methodologies for indole alkaloid natural products to discover novel biologically active hit compounds relevant to human diseases. Since being appointed as a T32 predoctoral fellow, one paper has been published in ACS Omega entitled “Ring Distortion of Vincamine Leads to the Identification of Re-Engineered Antiplasmodial Agents” (ACS Omega 2021, 6 (31), 20455-20470).
ADVISOR: Robert Huigens
How to APPLY
Applicants are encouraged to submit the application materials listed below by July 1, 2022.
- Personal statement (in a one-page personal statement, please address these activities)
- Advisor Recommendation Letter
- List of Publications (if you have published)
- Transcripts (mailed to Elizabeth Eddy at the address below)
Applicants to the UF Chemistry-Biology Interface Predoctoral Training Program need to complete this form.
UF College of Pharmacy
1225 Center Drive
PO Box 100486, Office 3308B
Gainesville, FL 32610