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Joe Chappell Headshot
Pharmaceutical Sciences Dept.
All Faculty
Lee T. Todd, Jr. Bldg, Room 461

Joseph Chappell most recently served as Chair of the UK College of Pharmacy’s Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences from 2013 - 2022. 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 UK College of Agriculture faculty 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 identifying 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 developing several start-up enterprises in Kentucky.

Google Scholar


Lab Website


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.

Education & Appointments


  • Ph.D. University of California, Santa Cruz
  • B.A. University of California, San Diego


  • Professor, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences
  • Department Chairperson, Pharmaceutical Sciences

We wish to remember and honor those who inhabited this Commonwealth before the arrival of the Europeans. Briefly occupying these lands were the Osage, Wyndott tribe, and Miami peoples. The Adena and Hopewell peoples, who are recognized by the naming of the time period in which they resided here, were here more permanently. Some of their mounds remain in the Lexington area, including at UK’s Adena Park.

In more recent years, the Cherokee occupied southeast Kentucky, the Yuchi southwest Kentucky, the Chickasaw extreme western Kentucky and the Shawnee central Kentucky including what is now the city of Lexington. The Shawnee left when colonization pushed through the Appalachian Mountains. Lower Shawnee Town ceremonial grounds are still visible in Greenup County.

We honor the first inhabitants who were here, respect their culture, and acknowledge the presence of their descendants who are here today in all walks of life including fellow pharmacists and healthcare professionals.