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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 the nature. For example, animal-microbe interactions, plant-microbe interactions, and microbe-microbe interactions are all mediated by a wide variety of chemical messages. We study the chemical structures and biological activities of such chemical messages. Such studies will ultimately enable us to communicate with the nature (microbes, animals, and plants) to address pressing medical and environmental problems. 

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

Mihai DM, Hall S, Deng H, Welch CJ, Kawamura A. Benzophenone and its analogs bind to human glyoxalase 1. Bioorg. Med. Chem. Lett. 2015 (in press) doi: 10.1016/j.bmcl.2015.09.036

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.

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.