Staff

Michael
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Michael Goetz obtained his Ph.D at the University of Neuchatel, Switzerland. After a postdoctoral stage at Cornell University, where he worked with Drs. Jerry Meinwald and Tom Eisner on insect chemistry, he joined the Merck Research Laboratories staff in New Jersey. He was a member of the basic research / drug discovery effort at Merck for 28 years, most recently as Director, Natural Products Chemistry, and has served as Area Head, Chemistry at the Fundacion Medina research facility in Granada Spain.  Dr. Goetz is the author or co-author of over 80 chemistry publications in the field of Natural Products.   He continues as Consultant at Fundacion Medina and is Director of the Natural Products Discovery Institute.

Bill
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Bill Kinney is the Director of Business Development for the Natural Product Discovery Institute and Director of Medicinal Chemistry at the Blumberg Insititute.  Dr. Kinney began his industrial career in the CNS group at Wyeth, where he invented perzinfotel that progressed to phase II clinical trials for pain.  At Magainin Pharmaceuticals, he directed projects on trodusquemine (phase II, obesity) and squalamine (phase II, eye disease), two shark-derived natural products.  In 2000, he joined Johnson & Johnson, where he pursued peptide-mimetic integrin antagonists and urotensin-II receptor modulators for cardiovascular indications.  Dr. Kinney directs business development and collaborations involving former Merck Natural Product Collection. He has built drug discovery partnerships with Drexel faculty members on PI3K p110 delta kinase inhibitors (flu), HDAC inhibitors (HBV), and mono-amine transport activators (depression and anxiety).  He is an adjunct faculty member at Drexel University and Founder of IteraMed Consulting, a company focused on leading virtual drug discovery projects.  His scientific contributions include 50 publications and inventorship on 39 issued U.S. patents.  
Jan

Jan Sigmund is a Rutgers University M.S. Microbiology & Biochemistry graduate with over twenty years of Natural Products (NP) Drug Discovery experience at Merck & Co., Inc.  The focus of her research was exploring the biological diversity of prokaryotic microorganisms that reside in Nature and providing this important source of novel bioactive molecules to various therapeutic screening areas.  She played a key role in the isolation, identification, fermentation and screening of Actinomycete bacteria as well as bacteria considered non-traditional to Natural Products pharmaceutical programs at the time, such as Bacillus, Cytophaga-like bacteria, Cyanobacteria and marine prokaryotes.  Critical to the success of such programs was not only the development of novel culture enrichment and isolation procedures, but the establishment of robust molecular means to rapidly differentiate and identify bacteria.
Jan routinely provided initial, secondary and large scale fermentations of bacteria producing compounds of interest and successfully utilized Design of Experiment (DoE) and Quality by Design (QbD) approaches and analysis in order to optimize growth conditions within stringent time constraints.  Integral to this work was facilitating the transfer of fermentation technology from R&D to Process Development and Manufacturing groups. She is also experienced in running HTS programs and in MOA studies of antibacterials.
Currently, Jan applies her expertise in providing optimized bacterial fermentations and generating ‘for purchase’ samples of high-quality DNA extracted from thousands of cultures from NPDI’s in-house collection.

Tina
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Since graduating from Marietta College Tina Gill has worked as a Research Associate and lab manager in both industry and academia and has been involved in many different types of research projects.   Extensive experience with the yeast S. cerevisiae as the model organism for studying eukaryotic gene expression and regulation has given her a diversified knowledge of molecular biology and chemistry techniques. At Drexel University College of Medicine, under the supervision of Dr. Jinhong Chang, Tina worked with a number of viruses and cell lines to screen iminosugars for antiviral activity and in studies to determine the mode of action of compounds of interest.  At the Natural Products Drug Discovery Institute she is busily involved in the generation and purification of DNA from our extensive collection of Actinomycetes.

Prabhjot

IMG_0178 Prabhjot Sidhu received an Associate Degree in Chemistry at Mercer County Community College and a Bachelors Degree in Biochemistry at Rutgers Universtity.  During her undergraduate years at Rutgers, Prabhjot was involved in research projects in the Entomology and Plant Pathology department. She served as an IPM Field Technician in the Department of Entomology where she was involved in the Integrated Pest Management program, regulated by EPA, coordinated by Rutgers Cooperative Extension at the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station.  Later, she worked as an undergraduate Research Assistant in Dr. Joan W. Bennett’s laboratory in the Department of Plant Biology and Pathology. As a research assistant, Prabhjot investigated the toxic effects of 36 fungal strains (isolated from superstorm Sandy damaged buildings) on the development of Drosophila melanogaster. She then began in an independent research project aimed at investigating differential toxicity of two different strains of Aspergillus versicolor (isolated from hurricane Katrina molds) on the embryonic development of Drosophila melanogaster. Currently at NPDI, Prabhjot is primarily involved in cultivation and fermentation of NPDI’s in-house collection of fungi for the production of natural compounds. She also assists senior microbiologists in DNA extraction from NPDI’s extensive collection of Actinomycetes.
John
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After a M.S. degree at West Virginia University directed by Dr. G. Fodor in the area of granatane alkaloids, John Ondeyka worked at that University’s Chemical Engineering Department. He later joined the Merck Research Laboratories Natural Products Department where he was involved, over 29 years, in the discovery and early development of paraherquamide and its analogs for the animal health area, cyclopiazonic acid and analogs as HIV inhibitors; nodulisporic acid, a potent orally-active ectoparasiticide; platensimycin and thiazomycin analogs as antibacterials; several second generation development projects related to marketed products avermectin and lovastatin. At NPDI, he ensures that our vast N.P. assets are made available to the scientific community at large and is active in passing on his knowledge in research to the next generation of chemists.

Jason
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In completing his Ph.D. in natural products chemistry with David Kingston at Virginia Tech in December 2005, he isolated and characterized antitumor compounds from plant and marine sources. Following that, Jason Clement joined the Molecular Targets Laboratory at NCI-Frederick as a postdoctoral research fellow in January 2006.  At NCI, he isolated compounds from plant and marine sources with activities in mechanism-based bioassays relevant to cancer.  In 2007, he joined the Department of Chemistry and Physics at Western Carolina University as an assistant professor where he supervised 13 undergraduates and 3 master’s students over 12 semesters in natural products chemistry research.  Jason joined the NPDI in July 2013, and is primarily involved in the characterization of natural products of interest derived from the large NPDI extract collection.  Additionally, he continues his research in medicinal plants native to the eastern United States.