Dr. Wei Shi
Dr. Wei Shi
<b>Department: </b>Chemistry<br><b>Research Area: </b>Utilize medicinal and organic chemistry to understand biological systems<br>

Department: Chemistry

Research Focus: We are a research group aiming to use medicinal and organic chemistry to understand biological systems, in particular the cell signaling network. We will accomplish this goal by applying concepts and techniques of organic synthesis, medicinal chemistry and chemical genetics. We develop multifunctional chemical probes derived from natural or synthetic glycoconjugates with unique structural and biological properties to unravel novel protein function. Along the way, we will tackle technical challenges in the field of chemical proteomics to effectively identify molecular targets of bioactive small molecules. The ultimate goal of our program is to help develop better chemotherapies for treating/preventing human diseases, especially cancer. To this end, we foster a collaborative learning environment that is conducive to testing new ideas and training the next generation of scientists with multidisciplinary knowledge and skill sets.

Potential Student Project(s): Resin glycosides are plant-derived structurally unique natural products. To date, more than three hundred members have been isolated. Although resin glycosides have been considered effective components in many medicinal plants, the molecules have not been well studied either as chemical probes in biology or as lead compounds for drug discovery. Very recently, we discovered a resin glysocide, ipomoeassin F, as a specific and tight Sec61α binder that strongly inhibits protein translocation. We are currently designing and synthesizing new chemical entities based on the scaffold of ipomoeassin F to help understand function of the Sec61 translocon more comprehensively. Such knowledge will be useful for addressing the concern of whether Sec61α can be a druggable target or its inhibitors alone will just be hopeless, non-selective general cytotoxins. Undergraduate researchers will facilitate preparation of key monosaccharide building blocks. It is also possible for them to synthesize target molecules and test biological activity of the molecules in cancer cells.

Attributes/skills/background sought in undergraduate:

  • Curious, positive about failures, and persistent
  • Responsible, conscientious, and detail-oriented
  • Respectful, friendly, and humble (welcome feedback)

Mentoring Plan:

  • Stage 1: Lab technique training led by me and/or a senior member in the lab
  • Stage 2: Work cooperatively with me and/or a senior member towards independency
  • Stage 3: Work independently on a given project with regular guidance from me (weekly or biweekly meetings)
  • Stage 4: Training and practices on scientific reading and writing (this stage is flexible and can be mixed with earlier stages)
  • Stage 5: Presentation and publication

Contact: 765-285-2194, CP 305