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University of Colorado Denver College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

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Organic Synthesis, Medicinal Chemistry, and Organometallic Chemistry

Lisa Julian


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 

  •  will provide mechanistic insight
  • 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.

Current Research Projects:
  • Design and Synthesis of Mcl-1 inhibitors for the Treatment of Multiple Myeloma
  • Synthetic and SAR Studies of Bruceantin for the Treatment of Multiple Myeloma
  • Late metal-catalyzed cross-coupling of alpha-fluoro- and (alpha-trifluoromethyl)benzyl bromides