The Chappell laboratory is dedicated to understanding the mechanisms that plants use to make the dizzying array of terpene/isoprenoid compounds. For many years, and like many laboratories, we focused our attention on how plants regulate the biosynthesis of antimicrobial terpene-based phytoalexins. Our interests have expanded from there. Our work utilizes a wide range of experimental strategies including genetic engineering, structure-function comparisons of genes and proteins, and cross-comparisons between many different plants and other organisms.
The fundamental goal of our research is to understand and exploit the enzymes involved in natural product biosynthesis and bacterial resistance with the ultimate objective of developing novel biologically active compounds that target infectious diseases and malignant tumors. We are especially interested in two classes of compounds: the aminoglycoside antibiotics and the nonribosomal peptides. We focus on lung diseases (Tuberculosis), cancer, and Alzheimer's Disease. The research in our laboratory lies at the interface of biology, organic chemistry, and medicine. Tools and strategies from molecular biology, biochemistry, microbiology, as well as synthetic organic and medicinal chemistry are key to our work.
We study mechanisms required for the pathogenesis of infection and cancer and discover novel compounds to inhibit these mechanisms by using a combination of enzymology, structural biology and biophysical chemistry.