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Alex G. Waterson, Ph.D.

Research Professor, Pharmacology
Research Professor, Chemistry


My interests lie in the application of synthetic organic chemistry to questions of biological importance. Since 2001, I have been engaged in medicinal chemistry toward primarily oncology-related drug discovery efforts. Previous experience with the pharmaceutical industry included a key role in the discovery of dabrafenib, currently approved for the treatment of B-Raf positive metastatic melanoma.

Research Description

Currently, I lead the medicinal chemistry team of the Fesik cancer drug discovery group. We employ fragment based drug discovery techniques to discover inhibitors of “undruggable” protein-protein interactions that are important for the future discovery of cancer therapeutics. currently, I manage the group’s Ras efforts, including an active collaboration with Boehringer Ingelheim to develop Ras inhibitors, as well as the ongoing project aimed at validating inhibition of the protein-protein interactions mediated by RPA70N as a cancer target. Outside of the Fesik lab, I have also been involved in several collaborations, including active projects in the cancer, antibacterial, and antimalarial fields.

I am also the Director and Scientific Coordinator of the Vanderbilt Center for Cancer Drug Discovery, a newly expanded, dedicated center in the NCI’s NExT Chemical Biology Consortium. The center, which is co-directed by Professor Stephen Fesik and Professor Gary Sulikowski, was originally created in 2009, and engages in collaborative efforts with other centers across the country to discovery drug candidates for novel and challenging targets for cancer treatment. Current targets ongoing at Vanderbilt are aimed at inhibition of protein-protein interactions, a protease, and a metabolic enzyme.

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Vanderbilt Faculty Profile

Fesik Lab