Dr. Yu Chen receives USF Excellence in Innovation Award

Yu Chen, PhD, an associate professor in the Morsani College of Medicine’s Department of Molecular Medicine, was among five USF faculty members who recently received the university’s Excellence in Innovation Awards for their exceptional research and innovation.

Each winner received a $2,000 award and plaque presented at the annual luncheon of the USF Chapter of the National Academy of Inventors on Aug. 31.

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Yu Chen, PhD

The award recognizes Dr. Chen for his patented technology of novel beta-lactamase inhibitors licensed by Gordian Biotechnologies to tackle the growing problem of antibiotic resistance, for the development of collaborations with Achaogen Inc., and for his publications last year in the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry and Future Medicinal Chemistry.

Dr. Chen’s structure-based drug design approach has led to the development of novel small molecule inhibitors against multiple proteins involved in antibiotic resistance, metastatic cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. Using an interdisciplinary approach, he combines both computational and experimental techniques to investigate the function and inhibition of enzymes related to bacterial cell wall synthesis, the biological process targeted by antibiotics such as penicillin.

Dr. Chen has extensive experience in biochemistry, X-ray crystallography and molecular docking. He has characterized the catalytic mechanisms of three enzymes and determined about 40 crystal structures including protein complexes with DNA or small molecules.

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The crystal of a protein used to help design better beta-lactamase inhibitors.