Professor Julian’s research interests are focused on using small organic molecules as tools to study molecular pathways involved in the development and progression of human disease, with a particular focus on cancer. We will design targeted molecules using principles of structure-based design and medicinal chemistry. Knowledge gained from these studies will allow us to build compounds that 1) will provide mechanistic insight, and 2) will serve as lead structures for the development of new small molecule drug therapies. The paradigm for treating cancer is evolving toward the use of “targeted” cancer drugs that are specific to the genetics of both the patient and the type of cancer. Biologists are characterizing these genetic profiles and have already identified numerous proteins and receptors that could have great potential to selectively kill cancer cells. Chemists need to provide molecules in order to evaluate these biological targets. Thus, we aim to synthesize molecules, many derived from nature, and to study their effects on cancer cells. Some of our target small molecules will be complex and will require highly efficient multi-step syntheses. We will develop and implement new reaction methodologies in order to streamline the synthesis of our key intermediates and analogues to drive our overall goals. Students will gain laboratory experience in organic synthesis, organometallic chemistry, and medicinal chemistry.
Professor Julian began her career in organic chemistry as an undergraduate researcher in the Overman group at UC Irvine, studying diastereoselectivity in a novel bisalkylation reaction. She then moved to the University of Michigan where she earned a Ph.D. under the direction of Professor William Roush, and completed a total synthesis of a complex polyketide natural product (+)-13-deoxytedanolide. Immediately after completing her doctorate, she took a position as a research scientist at Amgen in the San Francisco bay area. After three years of research toward the discovery of new drugs for the treatment of diabetes and cancer, she realized her true passion lied in academic research and teaching students. In order to accomplish this transition back into academia, she took a position as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign working with Professor John Hartwig on the development of new catalysts for hydroamination. Finally in August of 2011, she began her current position as Assistant Professor of Chemistry at the University of Colorado Denver.