Faculty Research Areas

Drug Discovery and Development

Departmental faculty have been highly successful in attracting extramural research support for drug discovery and development and co-founded startup companies based on UF intellectual property generated in their academic labs. Other preclinical and clinical candidates have been licensed to pharmaceutical and biotech companies. Learn more about our faculty and their research areas.

Hendrick Luesch, Ph.D.Hendrik Luesch, Ph.D., Professor and Chair
Debbie and Sylvia DeSantis Chair in Natural Products Drug Discovery and Development
Director, Center for Natural Products, Drug Discovery and Development

Marine natural products drug discovery, synthesis and development; a multidisciplinary research program at the interface of chemistry and biology, combining classical natural products chemistry with high-throughput screening and chemical genomics


Jane Aldrich, Ph.D. Jane V. Aldrich, Ph.D., Professor

Opioid peptide medicinal chemistry; the focus of research involves the design and synthesis of peptides and peptidomimetic analogs to examine structure-activity relationships, metabolic stability, and pharmacokinetic and pharmacological properties of opioid peptides.


Yousong Ding, Ph.D.Yousong Ding, Ph.D., Assistant Professor

Biosynthetic engineering and biocatalysis; discovery and development of small molecules and biologics as new therapeutic leads for obesity, cancer, and cardiovascular and infectious diseases through deciphering and employing biosynthetic strategies.


Rob Huigens, Ph.D.

Robert W. Huigens III, Ph.D., Assistant Professor

Natural product-inspired synthesis of small molecules; pushing back boundaries of drug discovery using new and innovative strategies for complex molecule synthesis as antibacterial and biofilm eradicating agents, and thymidylate synthase inhibitors as anticancer agents.


Margaret James, Ph.D. Margaret O. James, Ph.D., Jack C. Massey Professor

Drug biotransformation and toxicology; study of factors affecting the metabolism and toxicity of drugs and environmental chemicals in humans and animal species, through in vivo and in vitro approaches.


Chenglong Li, Ph.D. Chenglong Li, Ph.D., Professor and Graduate Coordinator | Nicholas Bodor Professor in Drug Discovery

Structure-based computer-aided drug design; molecular recognition research combining molecular simulation, synthetic chemistry, X-ray protein crystallography, cellular techniques and animal models to explore molecular interactions, focusing on anticancer and neural diseases drug discovery.


Christopher McGurdy, Ph.D.

Christopher R. McCurdy, Ph.D., FAAPS, Professor | Director, UF Translational Drug Development Core

Medicinal chemistry and drug development; research is focused on the design, synthesis and development of novel agents to treat pain and drug abuse and addiction using natural products and purely synthetic materials.


Chengguo “Chris” Xing, Ph.D.

Chengguo “Chris” Xing, Ph.D., Professor | Frank A. Duckworth Eminent Scholar in Drug Research and Development

Pharmacognosy and drug discovery; isolation, design and synthesis of biologically active small molecules and translational development for novel therapies against multidrug-resistant malignancies, chemopreventive agents against primary carcinogenesis and dietary supplements on neurological disorders.