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Principal Research Interests

My lab is interested in the design and discovery of new therapeutics using both traditional structure-based drug design methods and high throughput screening techniques. For more than a decade, we have been leaders in the development and application of structural models of opioid receptors to understand the molecular basis of small molecule binding, selectivity, and receptor activation. Our lab uses molecular biology, chemical synthesis, and computational techniques to guide the design and discovery of small molecules with modified selectivity for the mu, delta, and kappa receptors and to explore the small molecule-mediated mechanism of receptor activation.

We have also become quite active in the design and synthesis of focused chemical libraries for screening against antiviral and anticancer targets as well as the design and development of high-throughput screens (HTS). Our lab has developed a chemical library with diverse biological activities. Compounds in this library have shown good activity against West Nile Virus (and related flaviviruses), herpes, and HIV, and reduce cell proliferation in a variety of cancers. Work is also performed to explore structure activity relationship (SAR) data among library members and to determine the mechanism of action of "hits" identified via HTS.

  • Focused Chemical Libraries: Flavivirus Drug Development 2003-present
  • Topoisomerase Inhibition: Antiviral and Anticancer Agents 2002-present
  • Chemical Library Screening 1996-present
  • Virtual Screening: Opioids 1996-present
  • G Protein-Coupled Receptors 1992-present
  • Opioid Ligand Design and Receptor Structure 1992-present
  • Nucleic Acid Structure, Function, and Dynamics 1989-present
  • Computational Chemistry and Biology 1983-present

Mailing Address

  • David M. Ferguson, University of Minnesota, Department of Chemistry
  • Pharmacy-Medicinal Chemistry (delivery code 1332A), 139 Smith Hall, 207 Pleasant St SE
  • Minneapolis, MN 55455-0431