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K-State Today

September 11, 2018

Blake R. Peterson featured speaker for Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics Seminar Sept. 12

Submitted by Biochmeistry and Molecular Biophysics

Blake R. Peterson, Regents distinguished professor of medicinal chemistry at the University of Kansas, will be the featured speaker for Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics Seminar at 4 p.m. Sept. 12 in 120 Ackert Hall. He will present "Chemical Tools for Studies of Cancer Biology."

Peterson earned a doctorate in chemistry from the University of California, Los Angeles. He then became a Damon Runyon-Walter Winchell Cancer Research Foundation postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University. Before joining the University of Kansas he served on the faculty of the Pennsylvania State University. Peterson was an American Cancer Society Research Scholar and a Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar in 2003. He was named an eminent scholar by the Kansas Bioscience Authority in 2008 and Regents distinguished professor at KU that same year. Peterson was elected as a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, or AAAS, in 2013. His lab currently investigates the chemical biology of cell surface receptors and cellular targeting, modulators of receptors and enzymes, subcellular targeting of organelles, and molecular probes of biological systems.

Presentation abstract: The Peterson laboratory at KU Medicinal Chemistry creates chemical tools for the study of biological systems. We conduct interdisciplinary research in the fields of bioorganic/medicinal chemistry and chemical biology to investigate anticancer agents, anti-infective agents, molecular probes, tools for target identification, and methods for cellular targeting and delivery. Through rational molecular design, chemical synthesis, and phenotypic screening, we seek to identify new therapeutic strategies, targets, mechanisms and agents. Our primary experimental approach involves the synthesis of small molecules, peptides, and protein conjugates, and evaluation of their biological mechanisms of action. To study biological activity, we extensively use fluorescence-based methods with emphasis on spectroscopy, confocal microscopy, and flow cytometry. We investigate interactions of compounds with isolated proteins, with living cells, and in some cases within complex model organisms such as C. elegans, zebrafish and mice. Molecules that affect specific subcellular environments, an area of chemical biology termed subcellular targeting, have been of particular interest. This seminar will describe recent projects that involve targeting of small molecules to specific subcellular environments. This approach led to the discovery of new chemotypes that allow the delivery of anticancer agents and fluorescent sensors to the endoplasmic reticulum of cancer cells and new tools for exploring the proliferation rate paradox associated with the anticancer drug paclitaxel.

The department of biochemistry and molecular biophysics is housed in the College of Arts and Sciences. Departmental faculty have research programs supported by more than $3 million in annual extramural support for studying various aspects of biochemistry in animals, plants, insects and microorganisms. To learn more about biochemistry and molecular biophysics at K-State, please visit the department's website.

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