News & Events

Ben Shen, Ph.D.

Posted on November 11, 2016


Date - November 11, 2016
12:00 am


Professor and Vice Chair, Department of Chemistry
Professor, Department of Molecular Therapeutics
Director, Natural Products Library Initiative at The Scripps Research Institute

“Microbial Genomics: New Opportunities for Natural Product Biosynthesis, Engineering, and Drug Discovery”


Microorganisms produce a large variety of biologically active substances representing a vast diversity of fascinating molecular architecture not available in any other systems. Our research centers on the chemistry, biochemistry and genetics of the biosynthesis of these secondary metabolites. Blending organic chemistry, biochemistry, and molecular biology, we take a multidisciplinary approach to study the secondary metabolism by asking the following questions: what reactions are available in nature, what are the enzymatic mechanisms of these reactions, how are these reactions linked to produce complex structures, what are the regulatory mechanisms of these pathways, and, ultimately, how can we manipulate nature’s biosynthetic machinery for the discovery and development of new drugs. The progress made in the last two decades in microbial genomics and in connecting natural products to the genes that encode their biosynthesis has fundamentally changed the landscape of natural products research and sparked the emergence of a suite of contemporary approaches to natural products discovery. Selected examples from our current researches will be presented to highlight the impact of microbial genomics on natural product discovery, biosynthesis, engineering, and drug discovery.

Short Biography: Ben Shen is a Professor at the Departments of Chemistry and Molecular Therapeutics, Vice Chairman of the Department of Chemistry, and Director of Natural Products Library Initiative at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI), TSRI, Jupiter, Florida. Before joining TSRI, he was a faculty member in the School of Pharmacy and Department of Chemistry, University of Wisconsin-Madison (2001-2010) and in the Department of Chemistry, University of California, Davis (1995-2001). His research interests include the chemistry, biochemistry, and genetics of natural product biosynthesis and engineering in actinomycetes, natural product discovery from underexplored microorganisms, and natural product-based anticancer and anti- infective drug discovery. The Shen Lab has authored 230+ papers and patents and made several seminal contributions to fundamental chemistry and enzymology of natural products, innovative technologies for natural product discovery, biosynthesis, and engineering, and practical exploitation of natural products as small molecule probes for important biology and leads for drug discovery and development.