Thomas Bannister lab

Organic/Medicinal Chemistry and Drug Discovery

The discovery of possible drug candidates is a highly collaborative endeavor, with medicinal chemistry as a core, problem-solving component. My major research efforts are joint projects with world experts in cancer biology and neuroscience, wherein my group provides the organic and medicinal chemistry expertise and drug design insights. In general, we strive to find novel ways to target poorly-treated, common, and devastating disorders that increasingly burden world health care systems.

Neuroscience studies include:

  • Biased mu opioid agonists, aiming for a holy grail of sorts: to separate the robust pain relief provided by opiates from their many unwanted side effects. This collaboration with Laura Bohn’s group has led to findings published in 2017 in Cell, with follow-up chemistry disclosure in the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry in late 2018 (featured on the cover).
  • NOP agonists, for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and alcohol addiction relapse therapy. 
  • NAD-elevating neuroprotectants, for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Diseases, and for ALS.

Cancer projects include:

  • KLF5 inhibitors for colorectal cancer therapy.
  • TBK1 and IKKi dual kinase inhibitors, for hormone-refractory prostate cancer. 
  • Inhibitors of kinases CK1delta, ASK1, and ULK1, for various cancers.
  • Modulators of the HIPPO-YAP pathway, for various cancers.

Other exploratory efforts include:

  • High-throughput screening-based “chemical probe development”, seeking first-in-class small molecules for investigating the therapeutic potential of new target proteins. 
  • Probe development efforts encompass multiple therapeutic areas, including treatments for cancers, glaucoma, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Alzheimer’s disease (AD), addiction, infectious diseases, and mood disorders.