The overall goal of our research program is to discover and characterize new antibiotics with novel structures and/or mode of action. We are specifically focusing on the discovery of antibiotics from microorganisms and subsequently examining the biosynthesis and structural diversification/optimization of these compounds. A major component of our research is the discovery and development of nucleoside-based antibiotics with antifungal, antibacterial, and antiviral activity. To achieve our goals, we use a combination of natural product chemistry, synthesis, and biosynthesis that includes protein functional assignment, biochemical characterization, and biocatalyst development. One of our long-term objectives is to utilize the biosynthetic information to manipulate the biosynthetic pathway to make novel compounds via a combination of in vivo and in vitro approaches. Additionally, semisynthetic modification of lead compounds is routinely undertaken to modify scaffolds for structure-activity relationship. Students who join my lab can expect to develop a strong background in bioorganic chemistry, microbial genetic engineering, enzymology, and medicinal chemistry. We have had 20 undergraduates, graduate students, and postdoctoral fellows train in the Van Lanen lab and we are involved in several national and international collaborations.
Natural Products, Drug Discovery, Infectious Disease, Biosynthesis, Enzymology, and Medicinal Chemistry