DDC People & Publications

Patrick Woster

Director: Patrick Woster, Ph.D.

Patrick M. Woster serves as Professor, Chair and SmartState® Endowed Chair in Drug Discovery at the Medical University of South Carolina. Dr. Woster received a B.S. in Pharmacy in 1978 and a Ph.D. in Medicinal Chemistry in 1987, both from the University of Nebraska Medical Center, and completed postdoctoral studies at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and the University of Michigan. Dr. Woster has conducted research in multiple areas, including the discovery of inhibitors of the polyamine pathway, novel antimalarial, antitrypanosomal and antibacterial agents, a variety of antitumor compounds, chemopreventive agents and epigenetic modulators. He is perhaps best known for the 1996 discovery (in collaboration with David Edwards) of 6,7-dihydroxybergamottin, the constituent in grapefruit juice that inhibits cytochrome P450 in the gut, altering the bioavailability of numerous therapeutic agents. He was also the first to produce small-molecule inhibitors of lysine-specific demethylase 1, the first-discovered histone demethylase, and to show that inhibition of this enzyme promoted the re-expression of tumor suppressor factors. Over the past 5 years, he has expanded his work with epigenetic modulators to non-cancer diseases such as sickle cell disease, cardiovascular reperfusion injury and periodontal disease. More recently, Dr. Woster has discovered small molecule inhibitors of the ectoenzyme CD38 that increase the immune response to cancers such as neuroblastoma and multiple myeloma. His research has consistently been supported by NIH, WHO, the Doris Duke Foundation and several other external sources. He has authored more than 135 manuscripts, holds 11 patents and has given numerous invited presentations. He has served on numerous grant review panels, including more than 40 NIH study sections, is a member of the Editorial Board of the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry , Genes, Medicinal Chemistry Research and Research and Reports in Medicinal Chemistry, and reviews for more than 50 scientific journals.  Dr. Woster was Chair of the 2009 Polyamine Gordon Research Conference, and Chair of the 2014 National Medicinal Chemistry Symposium. He is a Fellow of the American Chemical Society (2014), the Royal Society of Chemistry (2015), the Asian Federation of Medicinal Chemistry (2017), and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (2017). In 2019, he was inducted into the American Chemical Society Division of Medicinal Chemistry Hall of Fame.


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.