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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:

Currently we are working on two research programs, namely, natural products chemistry and chemical proteomics.

Uncovering Hidden Potential of Natural Products: Long-known natural products with plain chemical structures can surprise us with remarkable biological activities. In order to uncover hidden potential of natural products, we established a screening protocol called "Biomarker-guided screening", which permits the identification of previously overlooked biological activities of natural products. Our current focus is the application of this screening to immunostimulatory herbal medicine.

Drug Target Identification using Benzophenone Photoprobes: Photoaffinity-labeling is a powerful approch to identify cellular binding targets of small organic molecules. Identification of new proteins targeted by small molecules is important because it opens up new opportunities for therapeutic intervention of various diseases using small molecules.  In this research program, benzophenone photoprobes of various natural products, including ginkgolide, immunostimulatory lipids, etc., are prepared to identify their binding targets in cells.  

Selected Publications

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.

Bachan, S., Tony, K.A., Kawamura, A., Montenegro, D., Joshi, A., Garg, H., Mootoo, D.R. “Synthesis and anti-tumor activity of carbohydrate analogues of the tetrahydrofuran containing acetogenins” Bioorg. Med. Chem. 2013, 21:6554-6564. PMID: 24045006

Kawamura, A., Mihai, D.M., Probing proteomes with benzophenone photoprobes. Methods Mol Biol. 2012, 803, 65-75. PMID: 22065219

Mihai, D.M., Deng, H., Kawamura, A. “Reproducible enrichment of extracellular heat shock proteins from blood serum using monomeric avidin.” Bioorg. Med. Chem. Lett. 2011, 21, 4134-4137.

Kawamura, A., Iacovidou, M., Hirokawa, E., Soll, C.E., and Trujillo, M. "17-Hydroxycyclooctatin, a Fused 5−8−5 Ring Diterpene, from Streptomyces sp. MTE4a" J. Nat. Prod., 2011, 74, 492–495

Mahendran, A., Vuong, A., Aebisher, D., Gong, Y., Bittman, R., Arthur, G., Kawamura, A., Greer, A., "Synthesis, characterization, mechanism of decomposition, and antiproliferative activity of a class of PEGylated benzopolysulfanes structurally similar to the natural product varacin." J. Org. Chem. 2010, 75, 5549-5557.

Kawamura, A. "Uncovering the therapeutic potential of natural products with biomarker-guided screening" IDrugs. 2010, 13, 321-324.

Shiratsuchi, T., Schneck, J., Kawamura, A., Tsuji, M., "Human CD1 dimeric proteins as indispensable tools for research on CD1-binding lipids and CD1-restricted T cells." J. Immunol. Meth. 2009, 345, 49-59.