Biomimetic chemistry; medicinal chemistry; organic synthesis and catalyst development; supramolecular chemistry; transmembrane channels and carriers for molecules and ions; cryoprotection of cells
811 Natural Sciences Complex
Buffalo NY, 14260
Phone: (716) 645-4307
Fax: (716) 645-6963
Research in our laboratory involves the creation of bioinspired and biocompatible structures based on the combination of design, synthesis, and further characterization. The major areas of research include: protein-like folding molecules and macrocycles; medicinally important compounds as therapeutics for diseases; enzyme-like organocatalysts based on biomimetic structures; protein-like architectures based on the self-assembly and molecular recognition of designed molecules; synthetic channels and carriers for the cross-membrane transport of biologically and medicinally important molecules and ions; and biocompatible, non-toxic compounds for the long-term preservation of high-value cells.
Biomimetic chemistry: Protein-Like Folding Molecules
These molecules have backbones adopting crescent and helical shapes based on a strategy of enforced folding established in our group. In addition to their exterior that can be readily modified to suit various media/environments, many of these molecules contain large (nanosized) interior cavities and pores. The specific strategy includes the introduction of intramolecular hydrogen bonding interactions that serve to rigidify the molecules, forcing curved conformations that further fold into helical shapes. Nanosize holes down the center of these molecules are created. Crescents and helices with cavities of adjustable diameters are readily available. These nanoporous molecules are being studied as novel hosts/receptors, as antimicrobial agents, and as catalysts.
Medicinal chemistry: Bioactive compounds as molecular therapeutics for diseases
Two major classes of compounds we created are being developed as potential drugs: (1) Small molecules that specifically bind to quadruplex DNAs, a major anticancer target; and (2) molecules that serve as channels and carriers for transporting disease-related molecules and ions across cell membranes
Organic Chemistry: The synthesis of functional molecules and development of enzyme-like organocatalysts
We design and synthesize a variety of molecules with desired functions for use in fields such as medicinal, biomimetic, supramolecular, and materials chemistry. Besides, we are also developing highly efficient, enzyme-like organocatalysts based on bioinspired structures we created over the years.
Synthetic channels: Transporting bio/medically important molecules and ions across cell membranes
We have been developing molecular and supramolecular structures as channels and carriers for delivering bioactive compounds into cells. The delivered compounds serve as drugs, cell-protectants, and other bioprobes.
Cell therapy: A chemical approach for the cryopreservation of cells
The preservation of cells for clinical applications requires completely biocompatible, non-toxic techniques. We are developing novel strategies for the intracellular delivery of well-known, readily available natural products that cannot permeate the cell membranes but exhibit superb cell-protecting capabilities if enter cells. Our approach involves the synthetic modification of these compounds into membrane-penetrating, non-toxic derivatives that can readily enter cells.