Chemistry & Biochemistry
Research in the Chemistry Department broadly aims to use the tools of molecular science in solving some of the world's most pressing questions, and spans organic, medicinal, theoretical, biological, analytical, physical, and inorganic chemistry. Our chemists are involved in development of next-generation cancer therapeutics, new catalytic methods for C-H bond activation, solar cell engineering, computer-guided drug design, and nanoparticle formulation chemistry, methods for bioanalytical mass spectrometry, among others.
Drug Discovery & Medicinal Chemistry Core
Investigators: Njoo, Brah, Renganathan, Yamamoto
The Drug Discovery Core in the Chemistry Department seeks to develop novel chemical entities in treating human disease. Current targets and research campaigns in the Chemistry Department Drug Discovery core include:
Development of novel anticancer agents
Optimization of natural product bioactives for cancer
Antibody drug conjugate development
Chemical synthesis of bioactive motifs and chemical entities
Computer-guided drug discovery
Synthesis of antiretroviral compounds for treating HIV/AIDS
Development of novel antimicrobial and antibacterial agents
Materials Science & Nanoengineering
Investigators: Patel, Yamamoto, Renganathan
Several groups at ASDRP are involved in the development of novel materials for drug delivery, green energy, catalysis, and materials science. Here, we interface expertise in the molecular and physical sciences with the goal of producing functional materials
Development of lipid nanoparticles for in vivo drug delivery
Photovoltaic cell engineering and electrochemistry
Graphene quantum dots (GQD) for photocatalysis
Green energy engineering
Computational and Theoretical Chemistry
Investigators: Brah, Njoo, Downing (CSEN)
At the heart of our computer-guided campaigns in the Chemistry Department are several endeavors to harness the power of machine learning, biophysical simulations, and quantum mechanical theory to inform drug design and discovery.
High-throughput virtual screening (HTVS) approaches
Protein-ligand docking & molecular dynamic simulations
Machine learning platform (Downing-Njoo) for drug discovery
Density functional theory (DFT) - informed reactivity analyses
Synthetic & Physical Organic Chemistry
The ability to build complex chemical structures from simpler building blocks has numerous applications in medicine, chemical biology, and natural product structural elucidation.
Methodology and reaction development for heterocycle synthesis
Total synthesis of bioactive natural products
Asymmetric catalysis & organometallics
Late-stage natural product derivatization
Analytical and Environmental Chemistry
Investigators: Sangeneni, Chen, Yamamoto, Njoo
We live in a world full of molecules, and several of our chemists are investigating the role of chemical entities in our ever-changing environment. Here, we are also developing methodology on sophisticated chemical instrumentation for high-resolution detection and monitoring of molecular systems.
X-ray fluorescence (XRF) analysis of heavy metal pollution
Development of high-resolution mass spectrometry methods
Reaction monitoring by nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR)
Biochemistry & Chemical Biology
Investigators: Renganathan, Yamamoto, Brah, Njoo
Several research campaigns in the chemistry department center around understanding the molecular basis of life - from understanding how pharmaceutically active small molecules affect human disease, to developing new ways to target proteins or biologics for application in medicine.
Development of mitosis-inhibiting small molecules
Chemical probes for optical readouts in enzyme kinetics
Antibody-drug conjugates and other biologics
Amyloidogenic protein diseases including Alzheimer's, etc.
Advisors & Principal Investigators
Biochemistry & Chemical Biology
Experienced biochemist at UCSD Medicine; former scientist at UCSF who specializes in computational biochemistry & drug discovery. Oversees admissions process.
Raymond Chen, MS
Raymond Chen leads a research group at ASDRP which focuses on using high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) to determine chemical and biochemical stability of small molecule pharmaceuticals. Raymond is an experienced analytical chemist with several years of experience in industry.
Zane Chen, MD, PhD
Biochemistry, Drug Discovery
Dr. Chen completed his PhD in Biochemistry at Oregon Health Sciences University with a thesis: Regulation of carnitine palmitoyltransferase I gene expression in vivo. He received his MD from Qingdao Medical College. He has done his Post-Doc at Oregon Health Sciences University.
Viktoriia Liu, PhD
Dr. Liu is a experienced computational chemist with knowledge in ML/computer vision, bioinformatics, robotics, and structural biology. She received her Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry from University of California, Riverside.
Edward Njoo, MA, PhD
Organic Chemistry, Chemical Biology, Physical Organic Chemistry, Organometallic Catalysis
Chairperson, Chemistry, Biochemistry, and Physical Science
Experienced organic chemist, educator, scientist, Stanford PhD chemist. Co-author on multiple peer-reviewed papers in biochemistry, chemical biology, and organic synthesis.
Joey Pazzi, PhD
Joey's current research interests include economical point of care diagnostics, the development of synthetic cells, and facilitating membrane fusion reactions with cells
Gayathri Renganathan, MS
Medicinal Chemistry, Biochemistry
Gayathri obtained her M.Pharm at Anna University and has served as a lecturer in Inorganic & Analytical Chemistry, and in her area of expertise, medicinal biochemistry.
Neelima Sangeneni, PhD
Physical Chemistry, Electrochemistry, Materials Science
Dr. Sangeneni holds a PhD in nanomaterial chemistry, and has been involved in several successful startups in the Bay Area. The Sangeneni Lab at ASDRP works on the interface of physical chemistry & nanomaterials engineering.
Akira Yamamoto, MS
Materials Science, Biomaterials Engineering
Akira received his M.Sc. from Shinsyu University in Materials Engineering and has served as the Director of Materials Science & Engineering at BioPharmX prior to coming to ASDRP. The Yamamoto group at ASDRP performs research in biomaterials engineering.
Facilities & Instrumentation
The Chemistry Department at ASDRP operates over four dozen state-of-the-art research grade instruments with spectroscopic and analytical capabilities competitive with university and industry R&D laboratories. These include two cutting-edge multinuclear nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectrometers, two mass spectrometers (LC-MS and GC-MS), two high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) instruments, a Fourier transform infrared (FT-IR) spectrometer, inductively-coupled plasma optical emission spectrometer (ICP-OES), X-ray fluorescence (XRF), multi-angle light scattering (MALS), six UV-visible spectrophotometers, a potentiostat, and many more.
Nanalysis NMReady 60 MHz Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) Spectrometer
Our NMR spectrometers are used for characterization of small molecules. Our instruments are the only NMR spectrometers dedicated for use by high school researchers, and are both outfitted with multinuclear (1H/13C/19F/31P) capabilities along with both 1D and 2D homonuclear and heteronuclear experiments (COSY, JRES, HSQC, HMBC, NOESY, APT, BIRD, DEPT)
Perkin Elmer Lambda 11 UV-visible spectrophotometer
ASDRP operates six research grade UV-vis spectrophotometers; this one is capable of high-resolution absorbance measurements, time-resolved kinetics, and stray wavelength precision down to a tenth of a nanometer.
Rudolph Instruments Optical Polarimeter
One of our two polarimeters, this instrument is capable of measuring optical rotation of plane-polarized light by chiral compounds. Our chemists and biochemists use this to study chirality in macromolecular structure and enantiopure small molecules.
Rotary Evaporators - a.k.a. "Rotavap"
Rotary evaporators are used by chemists in the gentle removal of volatile solvents under reduced pressure in the purification process of small molecules. Our chemistry laboratory has four rotary evaportators (Buchi) equipped with two-stage rotary vacuum pumps.
Thermo Labsystems Multiskan MS Plate Reader
One of three 96-well plate readers, this instrument is designed to provide rapid screening of colorimetric optical reporters, allowing our scientists to probe hundreds of conditions for biological activity in just minutes.
BioTek MicroQuant Fluorescence Plate Reader
Our MicroQuant instrument is capable of both fluorescence and absorbance experiments, enabling the rapid collection of large amounts of spectroscopic data for high-throughput screening of biomolecules.
Analogix IntelliFlash 280 Automated Chromatography
Our IntelliFlash system is used for purification of compounds out of complex reaction mixtures. It uses disposable silica gel normal phase or reverse phase chromatography columns with a built-in UV detector to track elution of UV-active compounds.
Hoefer Scientific DNA Fluorometer
Our Hoefer florometer is built to measure extremely low concentrations of DNA by using a UV lamp to track fluoresence of DNA nucleotide bases. This is useful for biochemists seeking to quantify DNA concentration.
Dynex Opsys MR Microplate Reader
Our Opsys MR microplate reader is built in with functions for biochemical quantification and for high-throughput screening of fluorescent optical reporters.
Laminar Flow Hoods & Tissue culture / cell culture space
Our biosciences lab has two laminar flow hoods, which are designed to maintain a sterile environment and keep contaminants out of cell cultures and cell lines.
Thermo Electron Spectronic Genesys 5 UV-visible spectrophotometer
Our Thermo Spectronic Genesys 5 spectrophotometer comes equipped with a wide range of detection capabilities and can be used for kinetic monitoring for reactions.
Thermo Scientific Nicolet iS5 Fourier Transform Infrared (FT-IR) Spectrometer
The FT-IR spectrometer is equipped with an iD5 attenuated total reflectance (ATR) sample assembly, and is used for vibrational spectroscopy to characterize molecules and materials. IR spectra capture bond vibrational modes.
BioRad SmartSpec 3000 UV-visible spectrophotometer
ASDRP operates six research-grade UV-vis spectrophotometers. Our BioRad instrument is capable of time-resolved kinetics, full differential scan analysis, and quantification of biological macromolecules such as DNA and protein
High-Throughput Computing Server & Cluster
Our two servers are industry grade Dell Poweredge machines equipped with 48 core Xeon processors, 64 GB RAM, and 10 TB memory. This is used for powerful computing capabilities, ranging from quantum mechanical calculations to time-resolved molecular dynamics simlulations.
Millipore MilliQ Ultra High Purity Water System
Sometimes, de-ionized water simply isn't good enough! Our MilliQ Water purification systems makes sure that the aqueous environments our biochemists use to study proteins and nucleic acids meet the highest level of quality control, with filters to remove even trace impurities.
Synthesis Fume Hoods
Chemistry sometimes generates fumes and volatiles that are best to keep away from our student scientists. We have six heavy-duty synthesis fume hoods which duct air away from experimentalists. Three are equipped with carbon filters to remove volatiles from the air.
Princeton Applied Research Scanning Potentiostat
Our research-grade PAR potentiostat is used for cyclic voltammetry experiments, and allows chemists and physicists to probe redox states of particles in solution and to characterize metal ion oxidation states.
3-dimensional Laser Cutter
Our physicists and engineers use our industry-grade laser cutter to build custom-shaped and custom-sized components out of any material imaginable. The instrument uses a high-power laser to carve contours out of material.
Pelton & Crane High-Pressure Autoclave
To create super-sterile equipment and solutions, our biologists and biochemists use this autoclave to superheat solutions to temperatures upwards of 300 degrees and pressures up to 3,100 torr.
Bausch and Lomb Melting Point Apparatus
Melting point is often used to determine the purity of a substance, and our melting point apparatus is used by extraction chemists to determine if there are impurities in their material.
721 UV-visible-near infrared spectrophotometers
We have two twin instruments that are capable of measuring single wavelength absorbances at a range from 350 nm to 1150 nm. This can be used to monitor reaction kinetics, or to obtain specific absorbances along an absorption profile of a substance.
Thermo LC Packings Ultimate High Performace Liquid Chromatography (HPLC)
High-performace liquid chromatography (HPLC) is a method for the separation and purification of small molecules from a mixture. Our HPLC is outfitted for even the most challenging separations and has a built-in UV detector.
Organic Chemistry, Chemical Biology
Scott graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a B.S. in Biochemistry with a focus on synthetic organic chemistry. While there, he studied under Dr. Jeremy McCallum, synthesizing a library of novel polyphenol analogs that inhibits harmful amylin oligomerization in the progression of type 2 diabetes. Research in the Clark group focuses on complex organic synthesis of bioactive small molecules, including natural products with complex diketopiperazine cores, and heterocyclic compounds with biomedical applications.
Quantum Mechanics and Applied Physics
Calvin Leung is pursuing a PhD in physics at MIT studying the phenomena of fast radio bursts: brief, intense flashes of radio-frequency light originating from outside the Milky Way. His past research interests have included quantum communication and searching for dark matter using atomic clocks. In addition, he was a vibration engineer working on the Falcon 9 at SpaceX. Students interested in joining his group should reach out to him.