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Akira Kawamura, Ph.D.

Associate Professor - Bioorganic & Natural Products Chemistry


Contact Information:

office 1312N (tel 212-650-3095), lab 1310N (tel 212-772-5339), dept fax 212-772-5332, email, group webpage AK Group Homepage


B.S. The University of Tokyo, Ph.D. Columbia University, Postdoc The Scripps Research Institute

Research Summary:

Deciphering chemical communications in nature: Chemistry is the common language used in nature. Various communications in nature, such as animal-microbe interactions, plant-microbe interactions, and microbe-microbe interactions, are mediated by a wide variety of chemical messages or "molecular words." The current focus of this research program is to characterize the structures and biological activities of molecular words for microbe-microbe interactions.

Molecular mechanism of immune-boosting plants: Many medicinal plants are known to stimulate innate immune cells, such as monocytes and macrophages. However, the molecular mechanism by which these plants exhibit the immunostimulatory effects remains to be clarified. Our study revealed that the immunostimulatory factor in some medicinal plants is not produced by plants but by plant-associated bacteria. Our current focus is to characterize the interactions between bacterial and plant factors, which collectively give rise to safe and effective immunostimulatory effects.


Our work on immune-boosting plants was featured on an NIH (NIMHD) website:

Selected Publications

Li X, Huang J, Kawamura A, Funakoshi R, Porcelli SA, Tsuji M. Co-localization of a CD1d-binding glycolipid with an adenovirus-based malaria vaccine for a potent adjuvant effect. Vaccine. 2017 May 31;35(24):3171-3177. doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2017.04.077. Epub 2017 May 5. PubMed PMID: 28483194; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5489412.

Kawamura A, Washington I, Mihai DM, Bartolini F, Gundersen GG, Mark MT, Nakanishi K. Identification of ginkgolide targets in brain by photoaffinity labeling. Chem Biol Drug Des. 2017 Apr;89(4):475-481. doi: 10.1111/cbdd.12883. Epub 2016 Nov 10. PubMed PMID: 27743504; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5378617. - Cover Article/Editor's Choice in April 2017 issue 

Mihai DM, Hall S, Deng H, Welch CJ, Kawamura A.Benzophenone and its analogs bind to human glyoxalase 1. Bioorg. Med. Chem. Lett. 2015·Nov 15;25(22):5349-51.·doi: 10.1016/j.bmcl.2015.09.036. Epub 2015 Sep 15. PubMed PMID: 26420066; PubMed·Central PMCID: PMC4628877.

Li X, Kawamura A, Andrews CD, Miller JL, Wu D, Tsao T, Zhang M, Oren D, Padte NN, Porcelli SA, Wong CH, Kappe SH, Ho DD, Tsuji M. Colocalization of a CD1d-Binding Glycolipid with a Radiation-Attenuated Sporozoite Vaccine in Lymph Node-Resident Dendritic Cells for a Robust Adjuvant Effect. J. Immunol. 2015 Sep 15;195(6):2710-21. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.1403017. Epub 2015 Aug 7. PubMed PMID:26254338; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4561196.

Montenegro, D., Kalpana, K., Chrissian, C., Sharma, A., Takaoka, A., Iacovidou, M., Soll, C.E., Aminova O., Heguy, A., Cohen, L., Shen, S., Kawamura, A. “Uncovering potential 'herbal probiotics' in Juzen-taiho-to through the study of associated bacterial populations” Bioorg. Med. Chem. Lett. 2015;25(3):466-9. PMID: 25547935

Takaoka, A., Iacovidou, M., Hasson, T.H., Montenegro, D., Li, X., Tsuji, M., Kawamura, A. “Biomarker-guided screening of Juzen-taiho-to, an Oriental herbal formulation for immmunostimulation” Planta Med. 2014;80(4):283-9. doi: 10.1055/s-0033-1360391. PubMed PMID: 24549928.

Hasson, T.H., Takaoka, A., de la Rica, R., Matsui, H., Smeureanu, G., Drain, C.M. and Kawamura, A. “Immunostimulatory lipid nanoparticles from herbal medicine” Chem. Biol. Drug Design, 2014;83(4):493-7. doi: 10.1111/cbdd.12250. PubMed PMID: 24495243.