DDC People & Publications

Patrick Woster

Director: Patrick Woster, Ph.D.

In 2011, Professor Woster moved to MUSC, where he was appointed Professor and South Carolina SmartState™ Endowed Chair in Drug Discovery. Professor Woster maintains an active research program that has been funded by several agencies, including the National Institutes of Health, the World Health Association and the pharmaceutical industry. Ongoing projects in the Woster laboratories include the synthesis of alkylpolyamines as antitumor or antiparasitic agents, synthesis of novel inhibitors of lysine-specific demethylase 1 and histone deacetylase as epigenetic modulators, solution- and solid-phase synthesis of peptide-based inhibitors of plasmepsin, synthesis of S-adenosylmethionine analogues as mechanism-based enzyme inhibitors and synthesis of furanocoumarins as inhibitors of cytochrome P450. Dr. Woster has directed a number of Ph.D. dissertations and Master's theses, and has mentored ten postdoctoral associates. To date, he has authored more than 95 articles in peer-reviewed research journals, and more than 100 research abstracts and invited presentations. Dr. Woster has also served as a member of two NIH study sections, and on editorial boards or as a reviewer for numerous scientific journals.

 

Assistant Director: Yuri Karl Peterson, Ph.D.

Dr. Peterson’s research focus is in applied pharmacologic sciences using in vitro, cell based, and in silico approaches to quantitate protein and small molecule functionality to bridge between chemical biology and pathobiology. He has experience in the experimental biology and computational modeling of protein-protein interactions, protein-ligand interactions, and hormone signaling. His research efforts have included the study of arrestins, the cytoskeleton, GPCRs, G-proteins, scaffolding proteins (like RGS and AGS G-protein regulators), prenyltransferases, methyltransferases, deacetylases, kinases, a variety of lipid binding proteins, mitochondria, and endosomes. Highlight innovations from the Peterson group include the discovery and therapeutic utility (Tat-GPR) of guanine nucleotide dissociation inhibitors, software to analyze endosome kinetics (DotQuanta), the discovery of Gi-alpha suppression in the majority of ovarian cancer patients, and methodologies to optimize virtual screening for drug discovery. Dr. Peterson’s research focus is on the application of high-content microscopy to study cellular protein kinetics, predictive bioinformatics, and targeting the “undruggable”.

 

Computational Assisted Drug Design: Pieter Burger, Ph.D.

Pieter Burger obtained a BSc in Biochemistry, BSc honors in Chemical Pathology, MSc in Biochemistry and PhD in Bioinformatics from the University of Pretoria, South Africa. Dr. Burger joined the research group of Professor D.C. Liotta at Emory University for Postdoctoral studies in 2009, later becoming a Technical Research Specialist and head of the Computational Unit within the group. More recently, Dr. Burger joined MUSC as a Research Assistant Professor where he focuses on computational aided drug design (CADD). The use of CADD has become an integral part of all major drug discovery endeavors, encompassing an array of disciplines that include bioinformatics, biophysics, pharmacology, chemoinformatics, and molecular design. Dr. Burger’s research is concentrated on incorporation of receptor flexibility into structure-based drug design (SBDD), identification of complementary small molecule conformations with high binding affinity, and using biophysical methods to investigate ensembles of rapidly equilibrating conformations of small molecules in solution. In addition, he seeks identification of novel synthesizable compounds that display drug-like properties through library enumeration. The power of combining methods from different study fields shows promise in answering questions that will increase efficiency of the drug discovery process. Dr. Burger research are focused on the identification of novel anti-malarial’s agents and understanding the mode of action of allosteric modulators of the ion channel, N-methyl-D-Aspartate (NMDA) receptors, which plays a role in Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, depression, schizophrenia, stroke and seizures.

Ivett Gomez

Chemical Synthesis and Lead Optimization, Ivett Pina Gomez, PhD

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Biomedical Imaging: Monika Beck Gooz, M.D., Ph.D.

Monika Gooz earned her MD and PhD degrees at the Semmelweis University, Budapest, Hungary, and completed her Fellowships at the Institute of Experimental Medicine of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest, at the University of Oulu, Finland, and at MUSC. Dr Gooz is a member of several organizations including the American Physiological Society and the International Nephrology Society. She serves on the editorial board of the American Journal of Physiology: Renal Physiology, and is a special editor of The American Journal of Medical Sciences.