Research

The Kelly group’s research interests lie at the interface of Chemistry and Biology as it applies to the biosynthesis of medicinal natural products, or naturally-occurring small molecules. Roughly half of the pharmaceutical agents currently in use to treat human diseases are either natural products or were initially inspired by a natural product, demonstrating the medical importance such compounds. Our primary interest lies in elucidating the biochemical means by which Nature constructs molecular scaffolds that appear within and across families of secondary metabolites. Another major endeavor of the Kelly group is to adapt a detailed fundamental understanding of such scaffold-building systems to the biosynthetic engineering of designer metabolites. This latter effort may also be referred to as “Synthetic Biology”, an emerging field that employs chemical and biological tools to manipulate biological systems in a directed manner. A final effort of the Kelly group is the application of genome information to derive information about yet-to-be-discovered small molecules, or “Genome Mining”. To accomplish our research goals, we rely upon a multi-disciplinary approach that utilizes techniques from organic chemistry, biochemistry, molecular biology, and microbiology.
 
Biosynthesis of the Indane Ring in Polyketide Metabolites
 
Thiostrepton and the Thiopeptide Antibiotics
 
Genome Mining