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Integrative Structural and Computational Biology

Dennis W. Wolan, Ph.D.

Associate Professor
Department of Molecular Medicine
California Campus
Laboratory Website
(858) 784-7936

Scripps Research Joint Appointments

Associate Professor, Department of Integrative Structural and Computational Biology
Faculty, Graduate Program

Research Focus

Our laboratory focuses on the identification of small molecule modulators of protein function as novel foundations for therapeutics and as tools for elucidating functional roles of enzymes in biological processes. The Wolan lab employs an arsenal of biophysical and cellular methods to identify new protein targets, improve and develop high throughput screening technology and validate potential lead molecules. Specifically, our efforts target candidate proteins for the identification of small molecule activators and the inhibition of bacterial enzymes involved in the proliferation of human disease.

Functional Proteomics of Human Microbiomes and Disease

Associations between human microbial environments and the onset of human diseases are rapidly materializing. Elucidation of the symbiotic relationships that have evolved between humans and microbes, and of the associated diseases, will provide a wealth of invaluable information that can be exploited in drug discovery. We employ functional proteomics towards the identification of bacterial proteins implicated in disease and the subsequent discovery and iterative design of small molecule regulators of enzyme activity. Our ultimate goal is the moderation of microbiome distribution, activity and host responses via external small molecule intervention as potential foundations for the prevention and treatment of diseases.


B.S., Chemistry, Bowling Green State University, 1998
Ph.D., Macromolecular and Cellular Structure and Chemistry, The Scripps Research Institute, 2004

Professional Experience

1999-2005: Ph.D., Ian Wilson laboratory, TSRI, La Jolla, CA
2005-2010: Postdoctoral Fellow, Jim Wells laboratory, UCSF, San Francisco, CA
2010-2016: Assistant Professor, TSRI, La Jolla, CA
2017-present: Associate Professor, TSRI, La Jolla, CA 

Awards & Professional Activities

2012: Ray Thomas Edwards Foundation Recognition Award
2005: Ruth L. Kirschstein NCI/NIH Postdoctoral Fellowship
2003: Skaggs Pre-doctoral Fellowship
2000: National Science Foundation Pre-doctoral Fellowship 

Member of the American Chemical and International Proteolysis Societies

Selected References

Kitamura, S., Owensby, A., Wall, D. and Wolan, D.W. 2018. “Lipoprotein signal peptidase inhibitors with antibiotic properties identified through design of a robust in vitro HT platform.” Cell Chem. Biol. online

Mayers, M.D., Moon, C., Stupp, G.S., Su, A.I. and Wolan, D.W. 2017. “Quantitative metaproteomics and activity-based probe enrichment reveals significant alterations in protein expression from a mouse model of inflammatory bowel disease.” J. Proteome Res. 16, 1014-1026. 

Chatterjee, S., Stupp, G.S., Park, S.K., Ducom, J.-C., Yates III, J.R., Su, A.I. and Wolan, D.W. 2016. “A comprehensive and scalable database search system for metaproteomics.” BMC Genomics. 17, 642. 

Backus, K.M., Correia, B.E., Lum, K.M., Forli, S., Horning, B.D., González-Páez, G.E., Chatterjee, S., Lanning, B.R., Teijaro, J.R., Olson, A.J., Wolan, D.W. and Cravatt, B.F. 2016. “Proteome-wide covalent ligand discovery in native biological systems.” Nature. 534, 570-574. 

Vickers, C.J., González-Páez, G.E. and Wolan, D.W. 2013. “Selective detection and inhibition of active caspase-3 in cells with optimized peptides.” J. Am. Chem. Soc. 135, 12869-12876.