Dr. Joseph Chappell
Dr. Joseph Chappell


Joseph Chappell became Chair of the UK College of Pharmacy’s Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences on May 15, 2013. Dr. Chappell is an acclaimed natural product scientist and will help develop the College’s expertise in plant derived drug candidates. He earned his Bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of California, San Diego. He then received his PhD in biology from the University of California, Santa Cruz. He conducted postdoctoral research at the University of Freiburg and Max Planck Institute-Cologne in Germany, then at the University of California, San Diego. In 1985, he joined the faculty at the UK College of Agriculture and has risen through the academic ranks from Assistant to Full Professor. Dr. Chappell has been active in UK’s classrooms, teaching a variety of undergraduate and graduate courses over the years. He helped develop UK’s renowned Bachelor’s degree program in Agricultural Biotechnology and has advised many students as part of that program during his UK career. At UK, the Chappell laboratory has been dedicated to studying all facets of isoprenoid metabolism in plants – from the identification of the genes encoding for and regulating this metabolism to defining the biochemical mechanisms of the enzymes themselves. In recent years, The Chappell lab has collaborated with members of the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences in his lab’s quest to develop new plant-based therapeutic agents. His laboratory has embraced student mentoring over the years, generally supporting one or two undergraduate research scholars each year, guiding graduate student thesis projects, and supporting the professional development of postdoctoral and sabbatical scholars. Dr. Chappell has been involved in commercializing intellectual property discovered in his lab, including the development of several start-up enterprises in Kentucky.


  • The Chappell laboratory is dedicated to studying all facets of isoprenoid (terpene) metabolism in plants and microbes – from the identification of the genes encoding for this fascinating metabolism to defining the biochemical wizardry that has evolved giving rise to an incredible chemical diversity in this class of Natural Products. In recent years, The Chappell lab has been particular focused on manipulating the genes and enzymes associated with the biosynthesis of putative therapeutic compounds in dietary supplements and medicinal plants.

Selected Publications

  • Kumar S, Kempinski C, Zhuang X, Norris A, Mafu S, Zi J, Bell S A, Nybo S E, Kinison S E, Jiang Z, Goklany S, Linscott K B, Chen X, Jia Q, Brown S D, Bowman J L, Babbitt P C, Peters R J, Chen Fei, Chappell Joseph. (2016). Molecular Diversity of Terpene Synthases in the Liverwort Marchantia polymorpha. The Plant cell, 28(10), 2632-2650.
  • Linscott K B, Niehaus T D, Zhuang X, Bell S A, Chappell Joseph. (2016). Mapping a kingdom-specific functional domain of squalene synthase. Biochimica et biophysica acta, 1861(9 Pt A), 1049-57.
  • Ricigliano V, Kumar S, Kinison S, Brooks C, Nybo S E, Chappell Joseph, Howarth D G. (2016). Regulation of sesquiterpenoid metabolism in recombinant and elicited Valeriana officinalis hairy roots. Phytochemistry, 125, 43-53.
  • Shaffer Carrie Leigh, Good J A, Kumar S, Krishnan K S, Gaddy J A, Loh J T, Chappell Joseph, Almqvist F, Cover T L, Hadjifrangiskou M. (2016). Peptidomimetic Small Molecules Disrupt Type IV Secretion System Activity in Diverse Bacterial Pathogens. mBio, 7(2), e00221-16.
  • Jiang Z, Kempinski C, Bush C J, Nybo S E, Chappell Joseph. (2016). Engineering Triterpene and Methylated Triterpene Production in Plants Provides Biochemical and Physiological Insights into Terpene Metabolism. Plant physiology, 170(2), 702-16.
  • Rising K A, Crenshaw C M, Koo H J, Subramanian T, Chehade K A, Starks C, Allen K D, Andres Douglas A, Spielmann H Peter, Noel J P, Chappell Joseph. (2015). Formation of a Novel Macrocyclic Alkaloid from the Unnatural Farnesyl Diphosphate Analogue Anilinogeranyl Diphosphate by 5-Epi-Aristolochene Synthase. ACS chemical biology, 10(7), 1729-36.
  • Zhuang X, Chappell Joseph. (2015). Building terpene production platforms in yeast. Biotechnology and bioengineering, 112(9), 1854-64.
  • Bell S A, Niehaus T D, Nybo S E, Chappell Joseph. (2014). Structure-Function Mapping of Key Determinants for Hydrocarbon Biosynthesis by Squalene and Squalene Synthase-like Enzymes from the Green Alga Botryococcus braunii Race B. Biochemistry, 53(48), 7570-81.
  • Yeo Y S, Nybo S E, Chittiboyina A G, Weerasooriya A D, Wang Yi-Tin, Góngora-Castillo E, Vaillancourt B, Buell C R, DellaPenna D, Celiz M D, Jones A D, Wurtele E S, Ransom N, Dudareva N, Shaaban K A, Tibrewal N, Chandra S, Smillie T, Khan I A, Coates R M, Watt David S, Chappell Joseph. (2013). Functional identification of valerena-1,10-diene synthase, a terpene synthase catalyzing a unique chemical cascade in the biosynthesis of biologically active sesquiterpenes in Valeriana officinalis. The Journal of Biological Chemistry, 288(5), 3163-73.
  • Niehaus T D, Kinison S, Okada S, Yeo Y S, Bell S A, Cui P, Devarenne T P, Chappell Joseph. (2012). Functional identification of triterpene methyltransferases from Botryococcus braunii race B. The Journal of biological chemistry, 287(11), 8163-73.