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My lab uses techniques in physical organic chemistry to tackle challenging problems in medicine. Theory and experiment are used in concert to develop robust, widely applicable tools for biological and biomedical applications.
A particular interest of my lab is the development of 'smart' chemical mediators for use in targeted drug delivery. Such mediators can be thought of as transporters for moving potent, yet inactivated, drugs to the site of the disease. When the mediator comes in contact with the diseased tissue, the efficacious drug is released in its potent form, either through activation by a non-covalent binding event or through light irradiation. This targeted approach to drug delivery holds the promise of selectively releasing drugs in diseased tissues while leaving healthy tissues unscathed. For example, the terrible side effects of cancer chemotherapies derive from the simultaneous destruction of healthy cells as well as tumor cells. The development of a mediator that selectively delivers toxic chemotherapy compounds to the site of a tumor could permit more aggressive drug dosing while minimizing the side effects of such treatments. These types of mediators could also function as chemical sensors, releasing a chemical reporter upon interaction of the mediator with a toxic metal, explosive, poison, or a chemical/biological agent.
Students in my group will use organic synthesis, high-level computational studies, mechanistic studies, non-covalent host-guest chemistry, photochemistry, and ultrafast laser spectroscopy to develop these technologies.