The National Institute of General Medical Sciences has awarded a five-year, $1.7 million grant to Rob Huigens, Ph.D., an assistant professor of medicinal chemistry, to support natural product-inspired drug discovery programs. Known as the Maximizing Investigators’ Research Award, the grant will fund several of Huigens’ research projects, including efforts to develop compounds that will eliminate bacterial biofilm-associated infections. Biofilm cells are largely resistant to conventional antibiotic treatments, and the Huigens lab has used chemical synthesis to discover and develop diverse biofilm-eradicating agents. His research team will also use RNA-sequencing technology to study biofilm viability and identify the cellular targets and pathways critical to biofilm survival.
In addition, a separate drug discovery program led by Huigens aims to increase the chemical diversity of screening libraries by using available indole alkaloids for the synthesis of complex and diverse compound libraries. Researchers will screen small molecules synthesized in this program for biological activity relevant to various diseases, including drug addiction and diabetes.