Professor Paul Wender has made many highly significant original contributions to synthetic and bioorganic chemistry, including the successful use of compounds found in nature for development of medications to fight AIDS, Alzheimer's and cancer. He will talk about his work Feb. 12, 7 p.m., in the Glick Distinguished Discover Lecture Series at the Milt Glick Ballroom in the Joe Crowley Student Union.
In his talk, "Translating Nature's Library: Silent Revolutions, Molecular Evolution and Transformative Therapies," the Stanford University chemistry and chemical systems biology professor will provide examples of how inspiration taken from nature is being translated into first-of-their-kind approaches to unsolved medical problems. Some projects include how compounds found in a plant on a remote part of Samoa and in marine organisms in the Gulf of Mexico are contributing to strategies for the eradication of HIV/AIDS, the treatment of Alzheimer's disease and cognitive dysfunction, and non-toxic small molecule approaches to cancer immunotherapy.
"Our approach further illustrates a paradigm shift in science from competition to collaboration and in funding from public only to public and private," he said.
Molecular evolution on Earth over the past 3.8 billion years has produced an extraordinary library of chemical structures, unsurpassed in number, diversity and function. Collectively these molecules comprise the chemical genome of our planet, which Wender calls our "chemome," representing a universe ripe for exploration.
"We have only just begun to explore this molecular world but the early lessons learned are revolutionizing and 'molecularizing' the whole of science from anthropology to zoology and all disciplines in between," he said.
Wender's contributions to chemistry range from the discovery and development of new reactions, through total syntheses of many key natural product target molecules, to the design of new agents for treating major human diseases.
His research and scholarly interests include molecular imaging, therapeutics, drug delivery and drug mode of action which involves studies in chemistry, biology, materials science and medicine. Wender was integral to work on molecules used in the anti-cancer drug Taxol, as well as phorbol, resiniferatoxin and other molecules involved in medical research.
He is a recipient of numerous awards, including the Prelog Medal in Switzerland and the Tetrahedron Prize for Creativity in Organic Chemistry, and has been called one of the most creative synthetic organic chemists of our time. He earned his doctorate in chemistry from Yale and his bachelors of science degree from Wilkes College, was a National Institutes of Health Postdoctoral Fellow at Columbia University and was a professor at Harvard University before moving to Stanford. He serves on numerous science advisory boards and the work of his group is described in over 290 publications and has resulted in more than 20 issued or pending patents.
Parking is reserved for the event on the top level of the Brian J. Whalen Parking Complex on N. Virginia Street. Admission is free. For more information, call 775-784-4591 or visit the College of Science website at www.unr.edu/science.