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Intensive Speaker: Chemistry
July 20, 2015 @ 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
The Molecular Mystique of Nature’s Poisons
Dr. Du Bois’ presentation will highlight the chemistry and biology of naturally occurring toxins, the profound role that such compounds have had in elucidating how nerve cells transmit electricity, and the potential of these agents as medicines for the treatment of pain.
About the Speaker
Justin Du Bois was born August 23, 1969 in Los Angeles, California. He received his B.S. degree from the University of California, Berkeley in 1992, where he conducted undergraduate research with Professor Ken Raymond. In 1997 he earned his Ph.D. from the California Institute of Technology under the direction of Professor Erick Carreira. Following a two year NIH postdoctoral position with Professor Stephen Lippard at MIT, he joined the faculty at Stanford University as an assistant professor. In 2005, he was promoted to the associate level. In addition, Justin is faculty by courtesy in the Dept. of Chemical & Systems Biology at Stanford University, a founding member of the NSF Center for Selective C-H Functionalization, an executive committee member of the Stanford Institute for Chemical Biology, and the founder of the Center for Molecular Analysis and Design at Stanford University.
Du Bois’ lab develops tools for chemical synthesis and exploits such inventions to facilitate access to architecturally complex natural products. His group has described new tactics for the selective conversion of saturated C–H bonds to C–N centers. These unique oxidation methods are remarkably versatile and have been employed by the Du Bois lab for the stereoselective synthesis of nitrogen-rich natural products including manzacidin A and C, agelastatin, saxitoxin, and tetrodotoxin. Contemporaneous efforts to explore the mechanism of C–H amination and to evolve new catalytic systems for C–C, C–N, and C–O bond formation are also being pursued. In a second project area, Du Bois’ group is utilizing natural products—namely, saxitoxin, gonyautoxin, aconitine, and batrachotoxin—as selective agents for investigations of sodium ion channel function and the cellular processes associated with bioelectrical conduction. Access to these toxins and modified forms thereof through de novo synthesis is driving studies to map the structure of the toxin binding sites and to develop new, isoform-specific pharmacological tools to study ion channel function in dynamic systems.