Center for Marine Biotechnology and Biomedicine
Scripps Institution of Oceanography
University of California San Diego
La Jolla, CA 92093-0212
Dr. Gerwick's research centers on the discovery of bioactive molecules with anticancer, antibacterial, neurotoxic, antiviral, or anti-inflammatory activity from marine organisms. A major effort in his lab has been the discovery of diverse unusual molecules from marine cyanobacteria with potent biological activities in the above assay areas.
The pathways by which these complex molecules are assembled are under exploration using stable isotope tracer methods and NMR analysis. In the last few years, molecular biology techniques have been applied to access some of the unusual enzymes present in these biosynthetic pathways, and thus opened the door for detailed enzyme mechanism studies. Additionally, many marine algae produce prostaglandin and leukotriene analogs that are strikingly similar to substances produced in the human body and that have therapeutic value as pharmacological agents. These isolation efforts have become the starting point for pursuing other interests in biosynthesis and biotechnology.