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.

Debbie and Sylvia DeSantis Chair in Natural Products Drug Discovery and Development Director, Center for Natural Products, Drug Discovery and Development

Hendrik Luesch, Ph.D.

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

Hendrik Luesch


Jane Aldrich, Ph.D.

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.

Jane Adlrich

Associate Professor

Lina Cui, Ph.D.

Molecular imaging and drug discovery; explores the activities of glycan processing enzymes and develops therapeutic and diagnostic molecules or tools for various types of cancer and age-related diseases (e.g. diabetes, neurodegeneration).

Lina Cui

Associate Professor

Yousong Ding, Ph.D.

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.

Yousong Ding

Associate Professor

Robert W. Huigens III, Ph.D.

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.

Rob Huigens

Professor And The Nicholas Bodor Professor In Drug Discovery

Chenglong Li, Ph.D.

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.

Chenglong Li

Assistant Professor

Yanjun Li, Ph.D.

Dr. Li’s research focuses on AI-driven drug discovery and optimization, utilizing deep learning techniques to accelerate the discovery of novel functional molecules for improved human health outcomes.

Yanjun Li


Xingui Liu, Ph.D., M.S.

Discovery of proximity agents as potential therapies for cancer and other diseases; and the discovery of new ligands against E3 ubiquitin ligases through biophysical, chemical biology, and medicinal chemistry approaches.

Yingui Liu

Professor And The Frank A. Duckworth Eminent Scholar Chair; Director Of The UF Translational Drug Development Core

Christopher R. McCurdy, Ph.D., FAAPS

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.

Chris McCurdy

Professor and Associate Chair

Chengguo (CX) Xing, Ph.D.

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.

Dr. Xing

Associate Professor

Guangrong Zheng, Ph.D.

Design, synthesis and structure-activity relationship study of both synthetically-derived and natural product-based compounds for potential therapeutic uses or as molecular probes for biochemical/pharmacological research.

Guangrong Zheng

Associate Professor

Wenjun Xie, Ph.D.

Enzymology and reaction-based drug design; interpret nature’s strategy of evolving enzymes to formulate therapeutic enzymes and covalent drugs, using AI, computational chemistry, evolutionary biology and biochemistry.

Wenjun Xie