About Yousong Ding
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.
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.