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Directory >> Wesley C. Van Voorhis, MD, PhD


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Wesley C. Van Voorhis, MD, PhD

  • Professor and Head, Division of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Department of Medicine
  • Director, Center for Emerging and Re-emerging Infectious Diseases (CERID)
  • Adjunct Professor, Department of Microbiology and Global Health
    University of Washington

There is a great need for new drugs for parasitic diseases, such as malaria, cryptosporidiosis, African Sleeping Sickness, Chagas' disease, and leishmaniasis. Each year, these diseases sicken or kill over 200 million people. Though some pharmaceutical companies devote some research effort to discover drugs to cure some of these diseases there is little done given the need; the people with these parasitic diseases have little money to pay for medicine. Wes's research group uses emerging knowledge about the genomes of these parasites to aid in rational drug discovery.

His group is also involved in discovering the molecular targets of cell-active compounds that are potential drugs. They have discovered promising anti-parasitic compounds, based on enzymatic targets from the genomes of these parasites, that show great promise as drug leads. Some of the most promising compounds are inhibitors that block kinases necessary for parasite growth. The group uses structure based drug discovery, in collaboration with X-ray crystallographers and chemists, and pharmacokinetic and toxicology information from the laboratory, to optimize compounds to become drug candidates for clinical development.

Current research topics, available to trainees include investigating the biology and lethality of inhibitors potential drug targets such as malaria, tuberculosis, and cryptosporidiosis protein kinases and AA-tRNA synthetases, developing new high-throughput screens,and working closely with chemists and pharmacologists to progress compounds to pre-clinical compounds.


Selected Publications

Guiguemde WA, Shelat AA, Bouck D, Duffy S, Crowther GJ, Davis PH, Smithson DC, Connelly M, Clark J, Zhu F, Jiménez-Díaz MB, Martinez MS, Wilson EB, Tripathi AK, Gut J, Sharlow ER, Bathurst I, El Mazouni F, Fowble JW, Forquer I, McGinley PL, Castro S, Angulo-Barturen I, Ferrer S, Rosenthal PJ, Derisi JL, Sullivan DJ, Lazo JS, Roos DS, Riscoe MK, Phillips MA, Rathod PK, Van Voorhis WC, Avery VM, Guy RK. Chemical genetics of Plasmodium falciparum. Nature. 2010; 465(7296): 311-5. PMID: 20485428
PubMed Abstract

Ojo KK, Larson ET, Keyloun KR, Castaneda LJ, Derocher AE, Inampudi KK, Kim JE, Arakaki TL, Murphy RC, Zhang L, Napuli AJ, Maly DJ, Verlinde CL, Buckner FS, Parsons M, Hol WG, Merritt EA, Van Voorhis WC. Toxoplasma gondii calcium-dependent protein kinase 1 is a target for selective kinase inhibitors. Nat Struct Mol Biol. 2010; 17: 602-7. PMID: 20436472.
• PubMed Abstract

Engelson EJ, Buckner FS, Van Voorhis WC. An essential farnesylated kinesin in Trypanosoma brucei. PLoS One. 2011; 6(11): e26508.
PubMed Abstract

Magarinos MP, Carmona SP, Crowther GJ, Ralph SA, Roos DA, Shanmugam D, Van Voorhis WC, Aguero F. TDR Targets: a chemogenomics resource for neglected diseases. Nucl Acids Res. 2012; 40(Database issue): D1118-27.
PubMed Abstract

Nwaka S, Besson D, Ramirez B, Maes L, Matheeussen A, Bickle Q, Mansour NR, Yousif F, Townson S, Gokool S, Cho-Ngwa F, Samje M, Misra-Bhattacharya S, Murthy PK, Fakorede F, Paris JM, Yeates C, Ridley R, Van Voorhis WC, Geary T. Integrated Dataset of Screening Hits against Multiple Neglected Disease Pathogens. PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 2011; 5(12): e1412.
PubMed Abstract

Ojo KK, Pfander C, Mueller NR, Burstroem C, Larson ET, Bryan CM, Fox AM, Reid MC, Johnson SM, Murphy RC, Kennedy M, Mann H, Leibly DJ, Hewitt SN, Verlinde CL, Kappe S, Merritt EA, Maly DJ, Billker O, Van Voorhis WC. Transmission of malaria to mosquitoes blocked by bumped kinase inhibitors. J Clin Invest. 2012; 122(6): 2301-5.
PubMed Abstract

Castellanos-Gonzalez A, A. White AC Jr, Ojo KK, Vidadala R, Zhang Z, Reid MC, Fox AMW, Keyloun KR, Rivas K, Irani A, Dann SM, Fan E, Maly DJ, Wesley Van Voorhis . (2013). A novel Calcium Dependent Protein Kinase Inhibitor as a lead compound for treating Cryptosporidiosis. J Infect. Dis. 208:1342-8. PMID: 23878324.
PubMed Abstract

Baugh L, Gallagher LA, Patrapuvich R, Clifton MC, Gardberg AS, Edwards TE, Armour B, Begley DW, Dieterich SH, Dranow DM, Abendroth J, Fairman JW, Fox D 3rd, Staker BL, Phan I, Gillespie A, Choi R, Nakazawa-Hewitt S, Nguyen MT, Napuli A, Barrett L, Buchko GW, Stacy R, Myler PJ, Stewart LJ, Manoil C, Van Voorhis WC. Combining functional and structural genomics to sample the essential burkholderia structome. PLoS One. 2013; 8(1): e53851.
PLoS One Abstract


1Ojo KK, Eastman RT, Vidadala R, Zhang Z, Rivas KL, Choi R, Lutz JD, Reid MC, Fox AMW, Hulverson MA, Kennedy M, Isoherranen N, Kim LM, Comess KM, Kempf DJ, Verlinde CLMJ, Su X-Z, Kappe S, Maly DJ, Fan E, & Van Voorhis WC. (2014) Specific inhibitor of PfCDPK4 blocks malaria transmission: Chemical-genetic validation. J Infect Dis. 209:275-84 PMID: 24123773.
PubMed Abstract


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