College of Pharmacy
The Ambrose lab focuses on CBRNE (chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and high explosive) agent mitigation, particularly Bacillus anthracis (the causative agent of anthrax), the ricin toxin, and organophosphate nerve gases such as sarin, soman, and VX. The group's goals include the design and optimization of small-molecule anthrax toxin lethal factor (LF) inhibitors, and ricin toxin A (RTA) inhibitors, to be used as emergency therapeutics in the event of bioterror attacks, and engineering enzyme active sites to rapidly and effectively hydrolyze fast-acting nerve agents. The lab is a full-spectrum early- to mid-stage drug discovery laboratory encompassing high-throughput and fragment screening, lead optimization, structure-based design, cell-based assays, and modeling. They have particular expertise in Biosafety Level (BSL)-2 and -3 and Select Agent safety and security protocols. The group is also interested in central nervous system-targeted drug design and optimization, focusing on psychiatric pharmacy and neuropharmacology, and has begun a new pilot project in the area of geopharmaceuticals - identifying drug scaffolds occupying unexpected space from fossilized materials.