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University of Wisconsin–Madison

Microbial Natural Products Discovery Hub

Bacterial and fungal pathogens threaten to return us to the pre-antibiotic era of the early 20th century. After enjoying 80 years of an abundant supply of antibiotics, bacteria have evolved resistance to most of these drugs. To address the growing threat of antibiotic-resistant pathogens, this project will accelerate antibiotic discovery at UW–Madison by removing the bottleneck in the process. Most antibiotics in clinical use are themselves produced by bacteria, and a cornucopia of compounds await discovery by UW–Madison microbiologists who have a long history of success in this arena. The limitation in the process is isolation and structural analysis of novel compounds. Chemistry research labs are overwhelmed with requests for collaborations; therefore, this project proposes a new model for chemical analysis — a facility with a senior scientist dedicated to elucidating chemical structures with and for microbiologists. This hub will accelerate discovery, leading to useful drugs of benefit to the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation and human health.


Katrina Forest, professor of bacteriology



Helen Blackwell, professor of chemistry

Jo Handelsman, director of the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery



David Andes, professor of medicine and medical microbiology and immunology

Tin Bugni, professor of pharmacy

Joe Dillard, professor of medical microbiology and immunology