Dr. Jonathan Chekan receives new $1.1M NIH GRANT

Posted on May 29, 2024

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Dr. Jonathan Chekan, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, has received a new $1.1M award from the NIH’s National Institute of General Medical Sciences for his proposal “Bioinformatic Guided Discovery and Characterization of New RiPP Natural Products.”

The grant will support new work in the Chekan Lab’s specialty: RiPP (Ribosomally Synthesized Post-translationally Modified Peptide) natural products. According to the Chekan Lab’s website: “RiPPs take peptides made by the ribosome and then use tailoring enzymes to modify them into complex, bioactive structures. The final compounds contain a wide variety of bioactivities including antibacterial, antimalarial, metal chelating, and cell signaling.” Natural products like RiPPs are of interest to NIH because “they have been critical to the development of new drugs, with well over 50% of FDA approved drugs having their roots in natural product chemistry,” according to Chekan’s website.

Learn more about Dr. Chekan’s research.

The proposal abstract is below.

Natural products are secondary metabolites produced by all domains of life. They have a wide range of ecological roles and have been repurposed into important drugs including antibiotics or cancer treatments. Using a bioinformatic led approach, we aim to discover new natural products, reveal how they are biosynthesized, and uncover their bioactivities. Our results will not only identify new molecules and enzymes, but will ultimately inform the engineering of new bioactive compounds.

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