Department of Chemistry

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David A. Colby

Professor David A. ColbyAssistant Professor—Medicinal Chemistry/Organic Chemistry
Phone: 765-496-3962
Office: RHPH 412A

For Professor Colby's individual Home Page click here.

Our research group blends the science of medicinal chemistry and synthetic organic chemistry through the use of natural product synthesis, the design of structurally-related analogues for structure-activity investigations, and the development of new synthetic methodologies. Natural products have continually been a rich source of structurally-complex molecules coupled with a dazzling spectrum of biological and pharmacological activities. Specifically in our laboratory, we seek to use natural products as potential leads for drug discovery in drug-resistant cancer. Oftentimes during these investigations, new synthetic methodologies must be developed in order selectively modify the complex molecular architectures of natural products. Parthenolide, santonin, and sclareolide are some of the representative targets that we will investigate due to their unique structures and biological activities.


Pharm.D., University of Iowa, 2001; Ph.D., University of California, Irvine, 2006; Postdoctoral Fellow, The Scripps Research Institute, 2006-2008.


  • Thieme Chemistry Journal Award, 2011
  • AACP New Faculty Award, 20102011
  • ACS Division of Medicinal Chemistry Graduate Fellowship, 2004-05
  • AACP/Merck Research Scholar, 1999-2000

Selected Publications

  • Han, C.; Kim, E. H.; Colby, D. A., Cleavage of Carbon−Carbon Bonds through the Mild Release of Trifluoroacetate: Generation of alpha,alpha-Difluoroenolates for Aldol Reactions. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2011 , 133, 5802-5805.
  • Riofski, M. V.; John, J. P.; Zheng, M. M.; Kirshner, J.; Colby, D. A., Exploiting the Facile Release of Trifluoroacetate for the alpha-Methylenation of the Sterically Hindered Carbonyl Groups on (+)-Sclareolide and ()-Eburnamonine. J. Org. Chem. 2011 , 76, 36763683.
  • Gunn, E. J.; Williams, J. T.; Huynh, D. T.; Iannotti, M. J.; Han, C.; Barrios, F. J.; Kendall, S.; Glackins, C. A.; Colby, D. A.; Kirshner, J. Leuk., The Natural Products Parthenolide and Andrographolide Exhibit Anticancer Stem Cell Activity in Multiple Myeloma. Lymphoma 2011 , 52, 10851097.
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