Dr. Susan Mercer, Lipscomb University Assistant Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Vanderbilt University Adjunct Assistant Professor of Pharmacology, has been awarded a pilot project grant from the Vanderbilt Institute of Chemical Biology (VICB). The project entitled, “A Small Molecule Activator of Heme Sensing in Bacterial Pathogens” was submitted in collaboration with Dr. Eric Skaar, Vanderbilt University Assistant Professor of Microbiology and Immunology. Mercer and Skaar, both members of the VICB, began collaborating in February 2009 and have since developed a productive research relationship. This funding will provide for continued research efforts on this project and additionally allow for development of a stronger relationship between the two institutions. Mercer will perform chemical syntheses in a new research laboratory located within the College of Pharmacy. Chemical synthesis will focus on development of small molecule libraries which will be submitted to the Skaar laboratory for biological analysis. Results will drive an iterative process of library design and will lead to publications both in the chemical and biological literature.
Mercer intends to mentor a Pharm.D. Summer Research student on this project and arrangements have been made to expose the selected student to both the chemical and biological aspects of the research project. The student will focus a majority of their time on medicinal chemistry efforts; however, the student will also have the opportunity to experience Dr. Skaar’s laboratory by means of shadowing and attendance at laboratory meetings. This project will provide a unique opportunity for a Pharm.D. student to fully understand and engage in the drug discovery process - a definite benefit to their future career.