Bioactive Secondary Metabolites

Dr. Ding’s Areas of Research

Multi-drug resistance is increasingly becoming a major cause of mortality and morbidity in humans, underscoring a pressing need to discover new drug molecules.  The overarching goal of the Ding laboratory is to generate structurally complex bioactive molecules for the discovery and development of drugs.  Specifically, we are aiming to: (1)  Isolate and identify bioactive secondary metabolites from un- and under-explored resources. Recent advances in DNA sequencing and bioinformatic technologies and synthetic biology position us for natural products-based drug discovery in an unprecedented era, in which chemical diversity of these resources can be rapidly assessed and subsequently accessed through decipheration of their encoding genetic information and reconstruction in heterologous systems.  (2)  Produce efficacious analogs of characterized therapeutically critical secondary metabolites and existing drugs.  In this specific aim, we will develop bio-based approaches (protein engineering, biocombinatorial synthesis, mutasynthesis, etc) to generate a library of drug lead analogs for their structure-activity relationship studies.  (3)  Ease accessibility of valuable chemicals.  We are interested in developing novel heterologous hosts for the production of chemicals, particularly bioactive secondary metabolites and their biosynthetic intermediates for subsequent chemical manipulations.  Members of this research group are expected to gain rigorous, interdisciplinary training and experience spanning medicinal chemistry, biochemistry, microbiology, molecular biology, genetics, protein engineering, synthetic biology, and systems biology.  Their collaborative efforts will drive the success of the research.