Chemical biology involves the use of chemical principles and tools to solve pressing problems in biomedical research that are challenging to address using classical methods, such as those routinely used in cell biology, genetics, and biochemistry.

Scientists in SKI’s Chemical Biology Program are developing chemical technologies to discover new molecular probes, using those probes to dissect the complex functions and mechanisms of proteins and other biological targets, and leveraging that understanding to investigate novel therapeutics to treat human diseases.

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Specific research interests in the Chemical Biology Program include the following:

  • development of new synthetic methodologies and total synthesis of natural products and proteins
  • diversity-oriented synthesis of chemical libraries
  • rational design of enzyme inhibitors
  • activity-based protein profiling of enzyme families
  • mechanistic studies of small molecules and their targets
  • synthetic biology
  • drug discovery and development

This work is often carried out through multidisciplinary collaborations with scientists from complementary disciplines. The overall goal of our research is to improve our understanding and treatment of cancer as well as neurodegenerative disorders and infectious diseases.

VIDEO | 02:08

Inside My Lab: Derek Tan

Go inside the lab of Derek Tan from SKI's Chemical Biology Program.
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Our Faculty

  • Derek Tan, PhD
    Chair, Chemical Biology Program
    Derek Tan’s lab studies diversity-oriented synthesis and rational drug design of probes and lead compounds for chemical biology and drug discovery.
  • Heeseon An, PhD
    Heeseon An’s lab studies protein degradation in health and disease using chemical, biological, and proteomics tools.
  • Daniel Bachovchin, PhD
    Chemical biologist Daniel Bachovchin designs selective inhibitors to study enzymes and pathways in cancer and immune system signaling.
  • Gabriela Chiosis, PhD
    The Chiosis lab uses a unique chemical biology approach to understand, diagnose, and treat cellular processes associated with chronic molecular stress, with the ultimate goal of developing novel therapeutic options for use in the clinic.
  • Arvin Dar, PhD
    Arvin Dar’s lab develops chemical tools and probes to explore disease mechanisms and the structural biology of cancer targets.
  • Yael David, PhD
    Yael David’s lab develops and applies methods in chemical biology toward studying epigenetic regulation and its correlation with disease states.
  • Yueming Li, PhD
    Dr. Yueming Li studies disease mechanism of Cancer and Alzheimer’s, with the goal of developing novel therapeutics for clinical use.
  • Minkui Luo, PhD
    Chemical Biologist Minkui Luo develops cutting-edge tools, technologies and concepts to annotate functions of protein-posttranslational modifications and designs inhibitors for cancer therapies.

Tri-Institutional Members

  • Sean Brady, PhD
    Sean Brady’s research interests center on both the discovery and the functional characterization of new small molecules from previously inaccessible genetic sources.
  • Hening Lin, PhD
    Hening Lin studies the chemistry, biology, and application of enzymes that have important physiological functions with a combination of synthetic and biochemical methods.


Collaborations & Resources

SKI offers a wide array of core facilities and other technologies, as well as significant opportunity for collaboration. Scientists in the Chemical Biology Program derive particular benefit from close ties to the following:


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