Dr. Nicholas Oberlies

Dr. Nicholas H. Oberlies, Patricia A. Sullivan Distinguished Professor, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG)

Project Leader – Project 3

Dr. Oberlies has been working on the chemistry of bioactive natural products for over 25 years, with a major focus on the discovery of anticancer drug leads. The core competency of his laboratory is in the purification and structural characterization of metabolites from fungi. This correlates with the primary objective of Project 3 (isolation chemistry of filamentous fungi). Samples for this project are obtained from an extensive collection available at Mycosynthetix, Inc. (Hillsborough, NC; CEO/CSO Dr. Cedric J. Pearce; see below). In addition to having skills in chemistry and mycology, Dr. Oberlies partners with teams of scientists, including experts in pharmacology, metabolism, and nanoparticles, so as translate his best leads into preclinical development. In the last decade, his laboratory has discovered hundreds of promising metabolites from cultures of fungi, inclusive of the verticillins (epipolythiodioxopiperidine alkaloids); similar studies are ongoing with four other classes of anticancer drug leads. Work on the isolation and elucidation of a series of verticillin analogues led to some demonstrating nanomolar IC50 values against a suite of cancer cell lines. Dr. Mansukh C. Wani (Principal Scientist Emeritus, Research Triangle Institute, Research Triangle Park, NC), the co-discoverer of camptothecin and taxol (paclitaxel), is affiliated with Project 3 as a Consultant