Seminar – Barry R. O’Keefe, Ph.D.

Event Date & Time

October 21, 2020 at 12 Noon


Virtual Zoom

Event Details:



Wednesday, October 21, 2020

12:00pm – Virtual Presentation

 Barry R. O’Keefe, Ph.D.

Director, Molecular Targets Program

Center for Cancer Research

Chief, Natural Products Branch, Developmental

Therapeutics Program

Division of Cancer Treatment and Diagnosis

National Cancer Institute

Frederick, Maryland

The NCI Program for Natural Products Discovery: A Resource for Novel Bioactive Natural Products Against All Disease States


Natural products have a proven track record in use as anti-cancer and anti-infective agents. As of 2019 natural products (NP) and their derivatives represented ~50% of small molecule-based anti-cancer and anti-microbial drugs. The use of NP samples for screening outside of those two areas has, however, not been actively researched with few screens for targets in neurological, metabolic and immune functions. This is, in part, because accessing the potential of NP in high-throughput screening (HTS) campaigns has been challenging due to the complexity of the crude NP extracts, the time necessary for follow-up isolation efforts, and indefinite capabilities for large-scale resupply. The result is that NP-based libraries are significantly underrepresented in most recent large-scale HTS programs. The US National Cancer Institute’s Natural Product Extract Repository is one of the world’s largest, most diverse collections of NP containing >230,000 unique extracts. To address the challenges in screening NP we have initiated the NCI Program for Natural Product Discovery which has developed an automated, high-throughput robotics platform capable of generating a library of >1,000,000 partially purified NP samples for screening which is being supplied to the worldwide research community for free. In addition, automated secondary purification and structure elucidation platforms have been created that significantly decrease costs and timelines. This presentation will discuss the reasons for, challenges to, and mechanisms by which to increase the pace and efficiency of NP-based drug discovery.


For more information, please contact the Department of Pharmacology
Ann Miller at 567-4205 (

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