David H. Sherman

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My group is interested in the discovery and characterization of natural product molecules for pharmaceutical development. Our pipeline relating to data science begins with microbial genome sequencing, mining of natural product biosynthetic gene clusters, integration of LC-MS/MS, and biological activity data. A major challenge in the field of natural product sciences is to 3-dimensional structures of complex metabolites based on genome sequencing data. Advancing this challenge will provide access to millions of new chemical structures with potential important disease fighting activities derived from cheap, rapid, next-gen sequencing technologies. Moreover, accurate prediction of complex natural product structures from genome sequencing data would then allow virtual screening of compounds against important disease targets (e.g. ribosomes, kinases, receptors) to begin the drug discovery process. It would also enable virtual medicinal chemistry to optimize molecules for disease target binding and optimal bioavailability and pharmacokinetic properties.

Picture of Besa Xhabija

Besa Xhabija

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Dr. Xhabija joined the Department of Natural Sciences in September 2022 as an Assistant Professor of Biochemistry. Her laboratory aims to understand the effects of toxins on early embryonic development utilizing embryonic stem cells because they provide a new tool and opportunity to investigate the impact of environmental exposures and their interactions with genetic factors on human development and health. To fully realize these potentials, she believes that it is important to understand the molecular basis of the defining characteristic of the stem cells. More specifically, she is interested in investigating how stem cells play a role in shaping the expression program during development and how mechanisms of self-renewal and differentiation during mammalian development regulate cellular fate decisions.