News & Events

Jie Li, Ph.D.

Posted on November 12, 2021


Date - November 12, 2021
1:00 pm - 2:00 pm


Assistant Professor
Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
University of South Carolina
Talk Title: Harnessing Nature’s Molecular Potential for Drug Discovery


We live in a microbial world, and those small organisms are big chemists. We seek to harness their tremendous chemical potential to generate structurally novel and biologically active molecules for drug discovery. Since the first discovery of penicillin, microbial small molecule metabolites have continued to be an essential component of drug discovery programs, especially for antibiotic and anticancer agents. These microbial molecules are genetically encoded, that is, microbes harbor biosynthetic genes to encode enzymes that catalyze various chemical reactions to generate unique molecular structures. In this lecture, I will discuss where we collected microbes or accessed their biosynthetic genes (e.g. soil, ocean, or even human bodies), as well as how we harnessed these biosynthetic genes and converted their genetic potential into chemical compounds for drug discovery. I will also share with the students how I got into this research field as well as what I perceive and gain during a scientist’s career.