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K-State Today

October 16, 2018

Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics Seminar welcomes chemistry's Ryan J. Rafferty on Oct. 17

Submitted by Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics

Ryan J. Rafferty, assistant professor of chemistry in the College of Arts and Sciences at Kansas State University, is the featured speaker for Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics Seminar at 4 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 17, in 120 Ackert Hall. He will present "The role of Natural Products in bioactive agent discovery and unlocking complex barrier transport."

Rafferty received his bachelor's degree in chemistry, emphasis in biochemistry, from the University of Northern Colorado in 2000. He remained at the same university to earn a second bachelor's degree in biology in 2002 and a master's degree in biochemistry under Professor Hyslop in 2004. He then moved to Colorado State University to pursue his doctorate in organic chemistry, total synthesis emphasis, with Professor Robert M. Williams. After earning his doctorate in 2011, he took a postdoctoral position in the laboratory of Professor Paul J. Hergenrother at the University of Illinois at Urbana. In August 2014, he began his independent career as an assistant professor in the chemistry department at Kansas State University. His lab currently focuses on the synthesis of complex natural products and bioactive agents, and new strategies to facilitate transport across complex biological membranes.

Presentation abstract: Natural products have been the cornerstone in drug discovery for nearly the past century, and have been a major driving force in the development of new organic methodologies. While the latter remains true, the role of natural products in drug discovery has diminished over the last 25 years. Mostly, due to the decline in isolation of new bioactive natural products and the rise of high-throughput screening, trends that have greatly impacted drug discovery. Our laboratory focuses on the discovery of new bioactive agents via total synthesis, chemical library construction, re-purposing of old therapeutics, and the development of new means of agent delivery; all rooted in natural products. To be presented is our efforts at the construction of new bioactive agents discovered through the chemical diversification of intermediates within total synthesis routes, a strategy that allows for the access of unique scaffolds of biological importance. In addition, these new diversified intermediates have been transformed into new chemical libraries that possess tunable and selective transformative properties that are being used in the development of new chaperone-like small molecules to aid in the transport of agents of interest across complex biological barriers. Preliminary biological evaluations of some of our bioactive molecules as well as delivery vehicles for blood-brain barrier and gram-negative bacteria penetration will be discussed as well.