Drug Discovery

Faculty (Brouillette, Muccio) within the Department of Chemistry have well-established research programs in drug discovery. Presently departmental laboratories are devoted toward drug design, synthesis and characterization. Additionally there is also a strong effort placed in protein receptor characterization and protein receptor-drug interactions. The significant research holding of these laboratories are listed in more detail below. Ongoing research projects include retinoids as chemopreventive and chemotherapeutic agents, inhibitors of influenza neuraminidase as orally active flu drugs, inhibitors of NAD synthetase as broad spectrum antibiotics, and ligands for the voltage-gated sodium channel as therapies for stroke. The Department of Chemistry at UAB has placed a strong commitment to expand its research effort in drug development.


Special opportunities exist for new faculty with expertise that would enhance these efforts. This includes:

  • Organic/Medicinal Chemists who are interested in synthetic chemistry, especially combinatorial chemistry and/or multi-step small molecule synthesis;
  • Bioanalytical Chemists who are interested in developing new methods for characterization of combinatorial libraries and/or methods for screening libraries; and
  • Biophysical Chemists interested in using spectroscopic/computational approaches to understanding key drug-receptor interactions.

UAB is a leading academic health center and research institute with over $470 million in grants and contracts. The majority of this funding is used to support clinically-based research and basic research in the medical area. The research environment is uniquely built upon the Research Center concept, where faculties from different departments gather to form strong research cores.

Especially prominent at UAB are the Comprehensive Cancer Center, AIDS Research Center, Cystic Fibrosis Research Center, Vision Sciences Research Center, and Center for Macromolecular Crystallography (which has a strong program in structure-based drug design). These Centers traditionally allow new faculty to compete for starter grants, foster new research efforts, and provide opportunities to establish collaborations with more senior faculty.

The Birmingham area also offers opportunities for interactions/collaborations:

  1. BioCryst Pharmaceuticals, Inc. utilizes protein crystallography and structure-based drug design to develop new drugs. Several of their compounds are in clinical trials, and they interact extensively with UAB faculty.
  2. Southern Research Institute, a nonprofit research organization, has developed several anti-cancer agents that have entered clinical trials. They are now starting a new for-profit pharmaceutical company in Birmingham that will emphasize combinatorial chemistry and high-throughput screening, coupled with structure-based drug design, to develop new clinical drug candidates.
Review the facilities for drug discovery at the chemistry department.