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Paul Carlier

Industry Leader Spotlight

Paul Carlier

Organic Synthesis and Medicinal Chemistry

I fell in love with chemistry in middle school and my supportive parents allowed me to do experiments in the basement! First, college and then, graduate school at MIT fed my passion and focused my interests on organic synthesis, the science of making new molecules. After a short stint in industry, I became a founding faculty member of the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.

Since moving to Virginia Tech in 2000, my goal has been to harness the power of synthetic chemistry to advance biology, medicine, and public health. My lab has worked on potential therapeutic agents for depression and Alzheimer’s disease, but since 2015, we have focused on the development of therapeutics for infectious diseases, in particular malaria.

My team’s expertise in making molecules in the correct “left-handed” or “right-handed” form enantioselective synthesis is critical in these efforts, since only the correctly handed form will have the desired effects. Drug resistance is an ever-present threat to the effective treatment of malaria and bacterial infections. We focus on the development of agents that will kill strains of malaria parasites and pathogenic bacteria that are resistant to known antibiotics.

Groups or organizations I am involved in ...
I direct the Virginia Tech Center for Drug Discovery, and am an executive committee member of the Virginia Drug Discovery Consortium.

Honor or award I am most proud of ...
An antidepressant my team developed at Virginia Tech was chosen by AstraZeneca as a development candidate.

The most formative experience I've had ...
Working with the AstraZeneca team on perfecting the development candidate and visiting Tanzania to learn about malaria control in the field.

I see the future in my field ...
Chemistry and biology will continue to merge and students will be increasingly cross-trained.

My favorite quote ...
"The most fundamental and lasting objective of synthesis is not production of new compounds, but production of properties" -George Hammond

I first discovered a passion for this work ...
From my wife, whose work in public health sensitized me to the needs of the developing world.

Something that excites me in my field ...
The development of new chemical reactions and techniques to identify drug targets.

I wish I invented ...
Vitamin B6, in my opinion it is the most amazing and versatile coenzyme.

My work impacts society ...
Because inventions arising from our work could vastly improve the quality of life of hundreds of millions in the developing world.

In my free time ...
I cook Chinese, Korean, and European food.

Best part of working at Virginia Tech ...
The camaraderie and spirit of collaboration.

Media Contact:

Lindsey Haugh

(540) 231-6959

Additional Highlights

Paul Carlier    |    Professor, Director Virginia Tech Center for Drig Discovery

Chemistry, Virginia Tech

(540) 231-9219

Department of Chemistry - Faculty Bio Page