Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
Skaggs School of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences
Professor Molinski conducts research on the structural, synthetic and biological chemistry of marine natural products from marine sponges (Porifera), ascidians, and environmental bacteria. This includes chemical investigation and methods development for discovery of exceedingly small amounts of rare natural products ('nano-mole scale') using NMR, circular dichroism (CD) and mass spectrometry (MS), and synthesis of drug-like analogs for important therapeutic areas.
- Cancer chemo-therapeutics
- Antifungal agents
- Kinase and phosphatase inhibitors
- Ca²⁺ channel modulators
- Targeted-enzyme inhibitors for cancer and infectious disease
Education: Ph.D. (1985) Australian National University, Canberra; Postdoctoral studies (1984-87) Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UCSD; (1987-88) University of Utah, (1988-9) UCSD.
Awards & Honors: Albert Hofmann Centennial Prize – elucidation of structures of natural marine products (2006); Chair of the Gordon Conference in Marine Natural Products (2004) & Heterocyclic Compounds (2015); Editorial advisory boards of Letters in Organic Chemistry, Australian Journal of Chemistry & Marine Drugs. ACS Ernest Guenther Award in the Chemistry of Natural Products (2020), Fellow of the AAAS and ASP (2020).
Leadership Experience: Managed a high-visibility research effort for over 30 years. Consultant for biotech industries. Management and fund raising for national and international symposia on natural products sciences. A founding ‘Faculty of 1000’ reviewer in Biology.
- Advanced Organic Chemistry (SPPS 221).
- Organic Spectroscopy (CHEM258).
- Introduction to Organic Chemistry (CHEM140B).
- Research (CHEM199, 299).
Translational Applications to Drug Discovery and Clinical Medicine
- Discovery of a potent Wnt-inhibitor (with co-investigators at the UCSD Moores Cancer Center).
- Screening and identification of natural products active against fungal pathogens: Cryptococcus spp., Candida spp., especially Fluconazole-resistant strains.
- Discovery of pro-apoptotic compounds from screening against cancer cell lines.
- Discovery of phorboxazoles A and B, potent cytostatic agents against colon tumor cells (HCT-116).
- Gafni et al. (1997). Xestospongins: Potent Membrane Permeable Blockers of the Inositol 1,4,5-Trisphosphate Receptor. Neuron 19:723-733.
- Dalisay et al. (2009). A Tetrachloro Polyketide Hexahydro-1H-isoindolinone, Muironolide A, from the Sponge Phorbas sp. Natural Products at the Nanomole-Scale. J Am Chem Soc 131:7552-7553.
- Molinski et al. (2009). Drug Development from Marine Natural Products. Nature Rev Drug Discov 28:69-85.
- Di et al. (2021). Bromotryptamine and Imidazole Alkaloids with Anti-inflammatory Activity from the Bryozoan Flustra foliacea. J Nat Prod 83:2854-2866.
- Salib, et al. (2022). Bioactive Bromotyrosine Alkaloids from the Bahamian Marine Sponge Aiolochroia crassa. Dimerization and Oxidative Motifs. J Org Chem 87:12831-12843.
- Expertise in natural products isolation-structure elucidation (NMR, CD, MS), screening and identification of novel biologically active compounds.
- Development of spectroscopic tools (esp. NMR) for structure elucidation.
- Synthesis of small-molecule cellular probes. Intellectual Property: 3 patents.