Dr. Pieter Dorrestein, Associate Professor in the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences and the Department of Chemistry-Biochemistry, was awarded the Max Suffness Award by the American Foundation for Pharmacognosy at the 42nd meeting of the American Pharmacognosy Society sponsored international meeting in San Diego.
Dr. Suffness was largely responsible for characterizing from the western yew tree, a drug taxol, currently used with success in the treatment of ovarian and breast cancer along with other metastatic cancers. Although taxol can now be synthesized chemically, initial characterization and proof of efficacy came from the natural product. Pharmacognosy is an area of pharmaceutical chemistry devoted to natural products focused initially on plant sources. The field has expanded to marine species, an area of emphasis of the San Diego meeting, and to microbial products from marine, aquatic and terrestrial species.
Dr. Dorrestein's award winning research is directed to understanding the panoply of compounds emitted from microbes to control their surrounding environment and communication with neighboring microbes. His pacesetting research using mass spectrometry imaging of chemicals released for communication between microbial species or between microbes and host cells adds a new dimension to the characterization of compounds.