Thomas W. Bell

Photo of Thomas Bell holding a chemical model.


Research Interests

The Bell research group uses organic synthesis to make new molecules that are tailored for various purposes. The research projects generally combine molecular and synthetic design, preparation, spectroscopy, and studies of structure and function. The unifying theme of these projects is molecular devices, designed especially to act as drugs interfering with biochemical processes, or to perform as switches, motors, or actuators.

Our major research area is medicinal chemistry. We are especially interested in designing and discovering novel antiviral drugs. For example, we have synthesized a series of drugs, called CADA compounds, which inhibit entry of the HIV virus into host cells. This is accomplished by down-modulating CD4, the cell-surface receptor required for binding of the virus. Current work is aimed at determining the molecular mechanism by which CADA compounds perform this unique task.

A second project aims to synthesize molecular-scale motors and actuators. In collaboration with the Cline research group, we have designed rotary, light-driven molecular motors. In model studies, we have derivatized the dibenzofulvene chromophore to produce an efficient, photon-activated driver for molecular motors that are targets of our current synthetic studies.


  • Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (1995-present)
  • NIH Postdoctoral Fellow (1980-1982), Cornell University (J. Meinwald)
  • Ph.D. (1980), University College, University of London (F. Sondheimer)
  • B.S. (1974), California Institute of Technology