B.S. in Chemistry, Albright College, 2007
Ph.D. in Organic and Medicinal Chemistry, Lehigh University, 2012
During my time at Albright College, I was involved in two research projects. On the first project, I used nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy, a powerful tool used in structure determination, to determine the keto-enol equilibrium constants of a set of 1,3-dicarbonyl compounds. The second project involved the exploration of a novel rearrangement mechanism of heterocyclic imines to form 1,3,4-triazoles.
As a Ph.D. student, I worked on two collaborative and interdisciplinary projects, one involving the design, synthesis, and optimization of topical agents for the treatment of sulfur mustard (i.e. mustard gas) blistering, and the other exploring the use of a biosensor to detect binding interactions between small molecules and acetylcholinesterase enzyme.
My research interests lie at the interface of chemistry and biology. Broadly, I am interested in improving the pharmacokinetics (PK) and clinical efficacy of known drugs by altering their physical properties (e.g., solubility, hydrophobicity). It is a common misconception that drugs only fail because of weak receptor binding or high toxicity. A substantial percentage of drugs fail to reach the market because of poor PK properties. There is hence a large and accessible arsenal of viable drug leads just waiting to be improved upon.
Drugs intended to treat CNS disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease (AD) often suffer from low clinical efficacy because they are blocked entrance to the brain by the blood-brain barrier (BBB). My current research group is focusing on improving the BBB permeability of known drugs by linking them to peptoids, which are structural analogs of peptides. My students use solid-phase organic synthesis, a method which involves a reagent or product attached to a polymer bead, to rapidly synthesize short peptoid chains which are then covalently linked to known drugs. Column chromatography is used for purification, and thin layer chromatography, NMR spectroscopy, high-performance liquid chromatography, and mass spectrometry are used for product characterization. Finally, an in vitro membrane permeability assay is used to assess the BBB permeability of these novel compounds.
Current Research Group Members
Elaine Gersz, Class of 2017
Jacquelyn Hamati, Class of 2017
Bryan Auvil, Class of 2016
Chelsea Young, Class of 2015
Recent Student Publications and Presentations
Auvil, Bryan; Young, Sherri C. Synthesis of Peptoids to be used as Blood-Brain Barrier Shuttles. Disappearing Boundaries Research Meeting, Elizabethtown College, July 17, 2014.
Molchany, Kelcie; Young, Chelsea; Schell, Alyssa; Young, Sherri C. Synthesis and Study of Peptoid-NSAID Conjugates with Enhanced Membrane Permeability, Disappearing Boundaries Research Meeting, Lebanon Valley College, July 17, 2013.
CHM 201 - Organic Chemistry I
CHM 202 - Organic Chemistry II
CHM 486 - Medicinal Chemistry (1/2 credit)
CHM 489 - Advanced Organic Synthesis (1/2 credit; focuses on solid-phase synthesis)