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Microorganisms produce a large variety of biologically active substances representing a vast diversity of fascinating molecular architecture not available in any other systems. Dr. Shen's research centers on the chemistry, biochemistry and genetics of the biosynthesis of these secondary metabolites. Blending organic chemistry, biochemistry, and molecular biology, Dr. Shen and his laboratory take a multidisciplinary approach to study the secondary metabolism by asking the following questions: what reactions are available in nature, what are the enzymatic mechanisms of these reactions, how are these reactions linked to produce complex structures, what are the regulatory mechanisms of these pathways, and, ultimately, how can we manipulate nature's biosynthetic machinery for the discovery and development of new drugs. Research projects include: (i) cloning and characterization of novel natural product biosynthetic gene clusters and machinery; (ii) discovery and elucidation of novel enzymes, biochemistry, and mechanism of catalysis; (iii) engineering of natural product structure diversity by combinatorial biosynthesis methods for drug discovery and development; (iv) expression of natural product biosynthetic gene clusters in heterologous hosts for natural product production and engineering; and (v) natural product isolation and structural elucidation from under-explored microorganisms for anticancer and antiinfective drug discovery.
Faculty website: http://www.scripps.edu/research/faculty/shen
Lab website: http://www.scripps.edu/shen/