"Great things in business are never done by one person; they're done by a team of people." – Steve Jobs
“There are mysteries to the universe we were never meant to solve, but who we are and why we are here are not among them. Those answers we carry inside. - Optimus Prime
He received his MS (2005) in Marine Biotechnology from Goa University, India and completed his Ph.D. (2011) in marine natural products chemistry from Nanyang Technology University, Singapore. His doctoral research in Singapore was carefully curated to explore untapped marine resources for the discovery of novel pharmaceuticals. Subsequently, he recognized the dearth of pharmaceutical leads from Singapore and approached the scarcity as an opportunity to devise a robust drug discovery platform involving biological, chemical and spectroscopic techniques. The effectively devised method elicited a battery of novel chemical leads with nanomolar anticancer activity.
Ashu continued his training with a postdoctoral stint in David Sherman laboratory at the University of Michigan where he got access to a treasure trove of drug-like small molecules in the form of natural products extracts (NPEs) library created by Sherman laboratory and stationed in Center for Chemical Genomics for high throughput screening. To leverage upon the unique NPEs collection, he initiated a target-based drug discovery approach for the development of several HTS assays, and genetic manipulation resources to discover novel therapeutics. The developed discovery platform is providing access to numerous novel drug leads and showcases our ability to effectively isolate and characterize new therapeutic entities for further medicinal chemistry research.
Currently, Dr. Tripathi is a Research Assistant Professor of Medicinal Chemistry and Director of UM Natural Products Discovery Core (NPDC). He is an expert in natural products discovery, and structure elucidation with ten years’ experience in drug discovery, microbial genetics, and biosynthetic chemistry. The Tripathi laboratory which is the part of newly funded Natural Products Discovery Core (NPDC) at the Life Sciences Institute is approximately 700 sq. ft. and has enough bench and desk space to comfortably accommodate six researchers in the main lab with a separate area for natural product isolation chemistry core. The natural product section includes state of the art facilities to discover small molecules and understand the molecular mechanisms from mother nature.
Dr. Mohamed received his B.Sc and M.Sc in Pharmaceutical Sciences from the Faculty of Pharmacy, Cairo University, Egypt in 2006 and 2013, respectively. In 2014, He started his Ph.D. at The University of Queensland, Australia working under the guidance of Professor Robert Capon where he acquired solid expertise in various techniques for detection, isolation, characterization, and evaluation of small molecules from microbial sources. The Ph.D. thesis focused on exploring and fully characterizing new microbial secondary metabolites through applying different strategies including, but not limited to, isolation of microbes from underexplored environmental sources, varying culture conditions, and dereplication of microbial strains and metabolites. He has been awarded the Ph.D. degree in the chemistry of microbial natural products in February 2019. In November 2019, he started his role as a postdoctoral research fellow at Natural Products Discovery Core (NPDC)–the University of Michigan to conduct discovery research on natural product isolation and identification which will involve microbial fermentation, organic extractions, chromatographic separation and complete structural characterization of lead molecules. Moreover, he will be working on developing methods to enhance natural products library of NPDC using chemical/genomic profiling and further yield improvement using mutasynthetic technologies.
Dr. Yang obtained his Ph.D. degree from Wayne State University in December 2020. He joined the group right away with 10-year experience of in drug discovery based on natural products. Dr. Yang has developed deep expertise in advanced chromatography, structural elucidation, and bioactivity evaluation. He has also extended his scopes to metabolomics and multivariate analysis, metagenome analysis, analytical chemistry, and computational chemistry. Anyway, he is still running on the way hunting innovative drugs by giving multi-disciplinary efforts and learning any new needed technologies as well.
Dr. Vásquez Espinoza is a Peruvian Chemical Biologist, National Geographic Explorer, and educator. Following a double degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from Tennessee Tech University, Rosa’s Ph.D. in Chemical Biology at the University of Michigan focused on discovering and engineering microbial-derived antibiotics and enzymes to access new, bioactive molecules and robust biocatalysts. She participates in bilingual science communication campaigns and collaborates closely with educators to integrate scientific exploration experiences into the classroom and to share her passion for sustainability and conservation with the next generation. Most recently, in the fall of 2019, Rosa was cross-appointed with the Natural Products Discovery Core (NPDC)–the University of Michigan, where he has been working on a series of collaborative projects involving isolation and characterization of natural products for lead-drug discovery.
Yihao Zhuang is from Nanjing, China. He did his undergraduate study in Biochemistry and Biology at Brandeis University in Waltham, MA, US. He is currently a second-year Ph.D. student in the Medicinal Chemistry Program at the College of Pharmacy at UM. He is working in both the Garner Lab and NPDC on discovering novel natural products that inhibit the interaction between eukaryotic initiation factor 4E(eIF4E) and eIF4E binding protein 1(4EBP1).
Shireen Ashkar is a Medicinal Chemistry Ph.D. Candidate in the College of Pharmacy at the University of Michigan. She is originally from the West Bank of Palestine and holds a B.Sc. in Chemistry and a M.Sc. in Applied Chemistry from Birzeit University. Currently working with Dr. George Garcia, her dissertation work is focused on the development of novel inhibitors of transcription in Mycobacterium tuberculosis. As a part of that work, Shireen is collaborating with the NPDC to explore the potential of its natural product extract library, a project which has been awarded an Early-Stage Grant from Michigan Drug Discovery.
Maribel EK Okiye is a graduate student researcher from St. Thomas US Virgin Islands. After receiving a degree in Biochemistry from the Catholic University of America, Maribel is currently continuing her education with a Ph.D. in Chemistry and M.S. in Bioinformatics at the University of Michigan focusing on understanding microbial-interactions in the human oral microbiome to access new bioactive molecules and develop new methods for detecting chronic illness in humans. Maribel is a recipient of the Rackham Merit Fellowship, the NSF GRFP, the NIH CBI Traineeship and the National GEM Fellowship. Maribel is currently collaborating with educators from the University of the Virgin Islands to create summer scientific experiences in natural product drug discovery.
Research Laboratory Specialist Senior
Pam received her BS in Biology from the University of Minnesota and went on to study 2 yrs at Mayo Graduate School in Rochester, MN. Her interest in natural products started in 2002 after hearing a talk by Dr. David Sherman. She was so interested that she applied for a lab manger job with him 17 yrs ago. Pam still manages the lab and have the new role of being the lab manager of the NPDC. She has been the key creator of the University of Michigan’s natural products extract library over the past 15 yrs. She has focused mainly on marine actinomycetes and now focusing on remote terrestrial environmental samples. Pam isolated microbes, gone on to do small scale fermentations, and creation of pre-fractionated extracts available for HTS. She instituted a unique tracking system and microbe storage system that allows us to easily track back from microbe to extract to soil sample.
Research Laboratory Assistant
Center/Core Operations & Finance Lead
Jenn has over 25 years of experience in office administration and management, in both the auto body and healthcare industries. She received her BS in Healthcare Administration from the University of Phoenix in 2008 shortly after accepting a position with the University of Michigan. She has strong administrative professional skills in keeping people organized and on task, planning business meetings, calendar management, travel booking, all accounting duties, email management, transcription services, and more. When the opportunity to work with the NPDC team was offered, it was exactly what she was looking for. Jenn enjoys working with “start-up” businesses and helping them grow from the ground up. This is what NPDC is to her, a new company that needs her skill set to help with future success. Jenn interacts with people on a daily basis, which requires tact and patience. She is dedicated to her workand it shows.
“A physical method of separation in which the components to be separated are distributed between two phases, one of which is stationary (stationary phase) while the other (the mobile phase) moves in a definite direction." - Fire Debris Analysis, 2008, 235-293
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