Naturally occuring organic compounds have found numerous applications in medicine for centuries. Many drugs that are in clinical use were originally discovered as constituents of plants and herbs that were used to cure illnesses. Though the traditional natural products chemistry was limited to the isolation and characterization of secondary metabolites from terrestrial plants and animals, recent years have seen many scientists exploring the marine flora and fauna in search of novel secondary metabolites with medicinal properties. Compounds with antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, antineoplastic, analgesic, and other properties have been discovered. This proposal is to continue the research program in marine natural products chemistry at the University of the Virgin Islands. Isolation, characterization, and bioassay of pharmacologically active natural products from marine organisms, such as algae and soft corals, will be carried out. Bioactive metabolites will be isolated using chromatographic methods, and their structures determined using spectroscopic (NMR, IR, UV, and MS) methods. Bioassays, such as feeding deterrence studies and antimicrobial activity tests, will be conducted using both crude extracts and purified compounds. New compounds identified will be incorporated into pharmacological and agrochemical testing programs under arrangements that have been made with outside organizations. Collection and identification of organisms will be carried out in collaboration with Professor Teresa Turner, and Professor Helen Gjessing will supervise the antimicrobial assays. Minority students will continue to participate in the proposed projects. The interdisciplinary nature of the project will provide opportunities for them to get hands-on research experience in organic chemistry, chemical separations, spectroscopy, marine biology, chemical ecology, and microbiology. The students will also be able to enhance their skills in literature search, writing technical reports, and presenting research findings to audiences.
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