People

Kenichi (Ken) Yokoyama, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, PI

Email: ken.yoko@duke.edu

I am interested in natural product biosynthesis and mode of action as well as the function and mechanism of enzymes.  These biochemical questions shape our unique and highly interdisciplinary programs. Outside the lab, I enjoy playing sports, such as skiing and tennis.

 

Hai P. Nguyen, Ph.D.                    

Postdoc fellow

Email: hai.nguyen “AT” duke.edu

I am studying natural product biosynthesis by combining my expertise in synthetic organic chemistry from my graduate study with enzymology and biochemistry. In particular, my project focuses on the mechanism of biosynthesis of mitomycin C, an FDA approved anticancer drug.  I have also contributed in developing chemical tools to study the mechanisms of fungal cell wall biosynthesis and the action of antifungal drugs.

 

Anyarat Thanapipatsiri

Postdoctoral associate

Email: anyarat.thanapipatsiri “AT” duke.edu

My current research focuses on biosynthesis and genome mining of nucleoside natural products, particularly in actinobacteria.  I particularly focus on genetic characterization of the biosynthetic pathways, and metabolomics analysis for the genome mining discovery of novel nucleoside natural products. Ultimately, my projects aim to provide knowledge useful for future novel nucleoside drug discovery. In my spare time, I enjoy cooking, baking, crafting, sports (e.g., badminton, tennis, swimming), and entertaining my son with indoor and outdoor activities.

 

Abhishek Chhetri

Postdoc associate

Email: abhishek.chhetri “AT” duke.edu

Research Focus:  I am interested in the enzymological mechanisms of beta-1,3-glucan synthase (GS), an enzyme essential for fungal cell wall biosynthesis, and a proven target of FDA-approved antifungal agents. GS catalyzes the polymerization of Glc using UDP-Glc as a substrate with a mostly unexplored mechanism. I aim to provide insights into the catalytic mechanism through product profiling and development of small molecule mechanistic probes.

 

Haoran Pang

Graduate Assistant

Email: haoran.pang “AT” duke.edu

Research Focus: My project focuses on the biosynthesis pathway of the molybdenum cofactor (Moco), an essential cofactor for most organisms, including humans. The first step of Moco biosynthesis is the conversion of GTP to cyclic pyranopterin monophosphate (cPMP) catalyzed by two enzymes, MoaA and MoaC, in which mutations were found in over 50% of human Moco deficiency patients. I aim to elucidate the catalytic mechanism of these two enzymes by characterizing potential intermediates in this crucial step. The study will provide bases for the future development of therapeutics for Moco deficiency diseases.

 

Matthew Draelos

Graduate Assistant

Email: matthew.draelos “AT” duke.edu

My research focuses on elucidating the mechanistic details of the biosynthesis of peptidyl nucleoside natural products. Peptidyl nucleosides display important antifungal properties that may be beneficial in combating life-threatening fungal infections. I ultimately aim to employ synthetic chemistry and the mechanistic underpinnings of peptidyl nucleoside biosynthesis to develop non-natural peptidyl nucleoside analogs with improved antifungal activity. These explorations will be informed by my prior scientific experience in synthetic chemistry and chemical biology and clinical experience as a student in the Duke University MD/Ph.D. program. Outside of the lab, I am an avid skier, pianist, and woodworker, who is always ready to discuss the finer points of historical trivia.

 

Previous members

Edward Lilla, Ph.D. (graduate student 2012 – 2017, currently at the KBI Biopharma)

Anna Loksztejn, Ph.D. (Tri-I MMPTP fellow, postdoc associate 2012 – 2017)

Daniel Dumitrescu (undergraduate student 2015 – 2017, currently a graduate student Yale University)

Brad Hover, Ph.D. (graduate student 2011 – 2015, currently at Lodo Therapeutics Corp.)