Chemistry is not just a mere subject; it is life. The elements of chemistry encompass everything and everyone. This aside, I believe the real delight of chemistry lies not within its boundless encompassing characteristics, but in its constant ability to teach and challenge me every day I put on a lab coat. Overall, it never ceases to amaze me how chemistry seems to be everywhere at once, even in places you expect not to find it.
After participating in undergraduate research, synthesizing small molecules for cytochrome P450 inhibition, and taking a Medicinal Chemistry course, I was fascinated to learn how many of the reactions I learned in organic chemistry can be applied to make compounds beneficial to curing or preventing a disease. I became increasingly interested in understanding how drugs were made, and how they interacted with one another. I remember the first time I researched a drug I was prescribed, I was baffled by the incredibly complex design of its chemical structures. My innate curiosity to understanding these chemical structures and their interactions led me to get deeply involved in organic chemistry research. The process of devising a synthesis, preforming the synthesis then purifying and characterizing each new compound was not only gratifying but also mentally stimulating. I immediately recognized I needed to pursue chemistry as an aspect of my career path. In fact, to find out more, I audited classes at another university to learn more about organic synthetic processes. There, I was informed about how organic chemistry named reactions are used as a tool to design and synthesize a drug, and as a result, I started to consider seriously a career as a Medicinal Chemist. I have been studying and practicing organic synthetic chemistry and applying it to cancer research for the last 7 years. Organic chemistry is my world.
To further improve upon my organic chemistry techniques and chemistry knowledge I have joined Virginia Commonwealth University's chemistry department as a graduate student. I am currently working under Dr. Matthew C.T. Hartman designing, synthesizing and purifying novel cell impermeable photo-cleavable molecules that can release their drug payloads with light. This type of drug delivery is essential because standard chemotherapeutic agents can only partially discriminate between cancer cells and healthy cells. Thus, they show toxicity to both types of cells and cause serious and often debilitating side effects, frequently forcing patients to abandon treatment. The use of photo-cleavable linkers connected to biologically active molecules has found widespread application in many areas of chemical and biological research. The nitroveratryl group and its derivatives are widely used and have shown rapid release at low intensity 370 nm wavelength excitation. This project is focused on a new method of selectively delivering an analog doxorubicin, a well-known anticancer agent that is limited by its cardio-toxicity, and other more potent anticancer agents to the sites of tumors by attaching a cell impermeable molecule to the drug via a photo-cleavable group generated from different nitroveratryl groups. The attached molecule will release the drug once exposed to specific light wavelengths. This type of drug delivery does not rely on singlet oxygen, unlike photodynamic therapy, for cytotoxicity and will be site specific, reducing potential side effects. The analog of doxorubicin that will be released is potentially 100-1000 fold more potent than doxorubicin itself and is has been known to be cytotoxic to multidrug resistant cancer cell lines.
My long-term goal is to work in development of therapeutics for various types of disease while in an industry position. I want to apply my current and future training to help in the design and synthesis of a therapeutic to cure cancer as my family has been plagued by this disease. Even while in industry, I still want to be a teacher and mentor. More specifically, I would like aid in STEM development in my home town of New Orleans as many of the school systems are struggling after the events of Hurricane Katrina, and it is becoming increasingly harder to get youth involved in the sciences.
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: Xavier University of Louisiana - Bachelors, Chemistry
Graduate Degree: Virginia Commonwealth University - PHD, Chemistry
Cooking,Reading,Lab Work, Research, Movies, Chemistry,