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New Therapeutic Paradigms

Using chemical principles to develop innovative medicine, including new approaches, new drugs and new vaccines.

The BioFrontiers Institute hires faculty working across disciplines to leverage CU’s departmental strengths in chemical biology and drug discovery research with the aim of improving human health and well-being. Several of our scientists are working to solve a wide range of problems in this area, from diseases like cancers and infectious diseases, to providing vaccine technology for under-resourced areas of the world. These interdisciplinary BioFrontiers faculty members are focused on chemical biology and drug discovery research research:

Natalie Ahn studies how cellular pathways go awry in melanoma. She develops and applies methods in proteomics and mass spectrometry to map changes in proteins and their chemical makeup.

Tom Cech won the Nobel Prize in 1989 for discovering the principle of RNA catalysis. His recent work includes identifying and cloning genes for the catalytic subunit of telomerase and the proteins that cap the ends of human chromosomes, seeking applications for cancer and degenerative diseases.

Robert Garcea studies the structure and assembly of small DNA viruses. His lab is currently developing novel and affordable vaccines for under-developed areas of the world, including prophylactic and therapeutic vaccines for the Human Papillomavirus (HPV).

Leslie Leinwand studies hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. She discovered how heart disease in males and females are fundamentally different. Her recent findings show the same genetic background has different outcomes depending on gender and diet. Featured on NPR’s Science Friday

Zhongping Tan studies the effects of glycosylation on protein structure, function and stability. His goal is to understand the role of glycosylation in industrially and therapeutically important proteins.

Hubert Yin develops chemical tools to study biology at the molecular level, with a particular focus on probing and regulating protein-protein, protein-nucleic acid, and protein-lipid interactions that regulate important biological processes. His recent efforts may lead to novel pain management therapy as well as methods for cancer detection and treatment. Read more

Key Collaborators

In addition to our core faculty, BioFrontiers faculty members tie together a network of collaborators across the University of Colorado system. These collaborators include:

Marv Caruthers - Chemistry & Biochemistry; interests in nucleic acid chemistry and biochemistry

Joaquin Espinosa - Molecular, Cellular & Developmental Biology; interests in gene networks and human cancer

Jim Goodrich - Chemistry & Biochemistry; interests in molecular mechanisms governing mammalian RNA polymerase II transcription

Tarek Sammakia - Chemistry & Biochemistry; interests in oxocarbenium ions in organic synthesis

University of Colorado Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences

Colorado Center for Drug Discovery at Colorado State University

Key Facilities

The Jennie Smoly Caruthers Biotechnology Building houses several core labs to support researchers with the resources they need for chemical biology and drug discovery research. In addition, the BioFrontiers Institute provides the regional biotech community with access to research facilities including the Next-generation Genomics Facility; a Mass Spectrometry facility; Nuclear Magnetic Resonance lab; and Tissue Culture facility. In addition, BioFrontiers participates in the Colorado Consortium for Target Validation and Drug Discovery, a multi-campus effort to provide university laboratories for drug research and screening.