Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Richard Taylor, has been appointed to the position of associate dean of the College of Science. In his position, Taylor directs the research and planning efforts of the College of Science, oversees grant management, engages faculty in multidisciplinary research and assists in forming strong collaborations across the University and with external research partners. He serves as the college’s primary liaison to the Office of Research and the Graduate School. Taylor also directs the Science Computing Facility.
Taylor’s own research program sets an example for the rest of the college. His research group, which specializes in natural product synthesis, conformational analysis and biosynthesis, has contributed to the understanding of chemicals that can be used to fight cancer. The group has completed the synthesis of four epothilones, three of the myriaporones and the marine lactones, peloruside A and neopeltolide. A unique aspect of his program is the incorporation of conformational analysis in concert with biological assays. Taylor says the group’s study of conformation-activity relationships complements the classic structure-activity relationships to provide detailed pharmacophore models that can help design future drugs used in chemotherapy. In fact, some of their designed analogues have been patented and licensed to the pharmaceutical industry for further development.
To complement their synthetic efforts, the group exploits biosynthetic machinery such as genetically engineered organisms for the semi-synthetic production of epothilone natural products and analogues. This allows production of the natural and designed compound at a fraction of the cost of total synthesis. Taylor’s current group includes one post-docs, nine graduate students and four undergraduates. Thirty other graduate students, post-docs and visiting researchers have been on his team since he came to Notre Dame in 1995.