Professor, Chemistry and Biochemistry
University of Notre Dame
Collaborative research in development of new anticancer drug therapies
The Helquist lab is part of a combined chemical, biochemical, biological, and clinical team of investigators that has been formed to study small molecules with potential anticancer activity. This team reflects the highly interdisciplinary research environment required to develop new treatments for cancer in a timely way that can translate to the clinical setting as quickly as possible.
The specific aims of this research are focused on use of any of three different strategies for identifying compounds having potential therapeutic function. The first is the use of naturally occurring compounds that present new cellular mechanisms of action that have not been exploited previously to combat cancer. The second is based upon the results of screening of compound libraries to identify hits that can be developed further into new therapeutic agents. The final approach is rational design of new agents based upon computational modeling of cellular targets, which are typically proteins overexpressed in cancer cells. This combination of approaches includes computational studies, synthesis of novel compounds, assay of their activity in cellular systems, determination of cellular targets and mechanisms, and studies in animal models of human cancer.
This research is conducted in a highly collaborative atmosphere involving a network of investigators at several institutions. Whereas the Helquist laboratory provides expertise mainly in the synthesis of the desired compounds, other collaborators provide the required computational, biochemical, biological, and clinical expertise. These interactions have been facilitated by the Harper Cancer Center at Notre Dame in association with the Indiana Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute encompassing Notre Dame, Purdue University, and Indiana University School of Medicine.