Just as with much of modern Western medicine, a key element of finding natural medicines has been trial and error. Testing this. Testing that. But the ability to find new drugs has become more refined and dramatically sped up, and the basic sciences are key to this field.
Imagine a world where a small cut would often lead to death or one in which cancer and diabetes were untreatable. Where every virus creates a pandemic of the likes of COVID-19. Where food supply was extremely limited due to pests and invasive weeds. Imagine a world where LCD screens, solar energy and adhesives were never developed. The world you have imagined is a world without Chemistry -- and it is just scratching the surface of Chemistry’s role in the world around us. Every modern hunter gatherer culture on Earth uses medicines from the wild environment for treatment. The Chacobo in Bolivia, for instance, rely on hundreds of different plant and animal species to treat different maladies. Just as with much of modern Western medicine, a key element of finding such natural medicines has been trial and error. Testing this. Testing that. But the ability to find new drugs has become more refined and dramatically sped up, and the basic sciences including Chemistry and Biology are key to this field. Joshua Pierce, Ph.D. will share his own story as a chemist, and then describe the ways in which new treatments are being discovered. He will highlight both the challenges of new approaches and the benefits, with a specific focus on how one new, potential treatment for COVID-19, a drug with the potential to prevent those with the disease from getting so very sick, was found and what will happen next with its development.
Joshua Pierce was born and raised in rural northwestern Pennsylvania. After realizing the impact basic science had on medicine, he pursued and obtained his B.S. and Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Pittsburgh. During these years his research was focused on synthetic chemistry and medicinal chemistry. After defending his thesis Joshua moved across the country to conduct postdoctoral studies at Scripps Research where his research interests centered around complex natural product synthesis and antimicrobial development. Together these research experiences have provided an appreciation of the important role organic chemistry plays in biology and medicine. Professor Pierce’s research at NC State tackles cutting edge problems in organic chemistry where he and his students aim to provide impactful contributions to medicine through the development of leads for the next generation of drugs.