The Derek Tan Lab

Tan Group 2018

Inside My Lab: Derek Tan

Media arrow iconAn icon showing a arrow pointing left, indicating being able to play some kind of media. WATCH VIDEO 02:08

The identification of small-molecule probes and therapeutic lead compounds to address novel biological targets is a significant current challenge in chemical biology and drug discovery. We are engaged in a two-pronged approach to this problem involving diversity-oriented synthesis and rational design as complementary approaches to ligand discovery. Our work in both of these areas is influenced at multiple levels by insights from natural products. At the core of these efforts is the development of new chemical methodologies to provide flexible, efficient, systematic access to these structures. We leverage multidisciplinary collaborations with biologists to evaluate these molecules to probe key biological processes and to explore new therapeutic opportunities in cancer and infectious diseases.

Learn more Arrow rightAn icon showing an arrow pointing to the right.
Derek Tan, research lab head

Derek Tan, PhD

Chairman and Member, Chemical Biology Program, SKI; Tri-Institutional Professor


Research Focus

Derek Tan’s lab studies diversity-oriented synthesis and rational drug design of probes and lead compounds for chemical biology and drug discovery.


  • BS, Stanford University
  • PhD, Harvard University


  • Synthesis of Benzannulated Medium-ring Lactams via a Tandem Oxidative Dearomatization-Ring Expansion Reaction.
    Guney, T. ; Wenderski, T. A. ; Boudreau, M. W.; Tan, D. S.* Chem. Eur. J. 2018, 24, 13150–13157.
    Abstract | PubMed |
    (Cover article in Chem. Eur. J )
  • Family-level stereoselective synthesis and biological evaluation of pyrrolomorpholine spiroketal natural product antioxidants
    Verano, A. L.; Tan, D. S.* Chem. Sci. 2017, 8, 3687–3693.
    Abstract | PubMed |PMC ]
Learn more Arrow rightAn icon showing an arrow pointing to the right.

Selected Achievements

  • Development of salicyl-AMS, a novel antibacterial agent to treat tuberculosis and other infections
  • Louise and Allston Boyer Young Investigator Award for Basic Research, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (2010)
  • Dean's Award for Excellence in Teaching and Mentoring, Weill Cornell Graduate School of Medical Sciences (2013)