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Wesley C. Van Voorhis, MD, PhD

750 Republican St Room E-606 Seattle, WA 98109-4766
(206) 543-2447

Lab Staff

Lynn Barrett
Stephen Nakazawa-Hewitt
Kayode Ojo
Ryan Choi
Kasey Rivas
Gregory Crowther
Heidi Hillesland
Janette Myers
Rina Romero
John Doty
Tatiana Phillips
Jack Mo
William Donaldson
Justin Craig
Ben Horst
Wesley C. Van Voorhis, MD, PhD
CERID Director, Professor and Head, Division of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Department of Medicine Adjunct Professor, Department of Microbiology University of Washington

There is a great need for new drugs for parasitic diseases, such as Malaria, African Sleeping Sickness, Chagas' disease, and Leishmaniasis.

Each year, these diseases sicken or kill over 200 million people. Though some pharmaceutical companies devote research effort to discover drugs to treat some of these diseases, there is little done given the need; the people with these parasitic diseases have little money to pay for medicine. The Van Voorhis research group uses emerging knowledge about the genomes of these parasites to aid in rational drug discovery.

His group, in collaboration with 4 other groups in Pennsylvania, Argentina, England and Australia, has developed a website called which allows pharmaceutical companies and scientists to select optimal drug targets from the genomes of parasite.

The Van Voorhis lab is also involved in discovering the molecular targets of cell-active compounds that are potential drugs. They have discovered promising anti-parasitic compounds based on enzymatic targets from the genomes of these parasites, which show great promise as drug leads. Some of the most promising compounds are inhibitors that block kinases necessary for parasite growth. The lab uses structure-based drug discovery, in collaboration with X-ray crystallographers and chemists, and pharmacokinetic and toxicology information from the laboratory to optimize compounds witht the potential to become drug candidates for clinical development.

 Dr. Van Voorhis is also a Co-Principal Investigator for the Seattle Structural Genomics Center for Infectious Disease (SSGCID) a consortium of four Pacific Northwest institutions (Seattle Biomed, Emerald Bio, UW, and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.  This partnership represents a unique blending of academic, institutional, and industrial efforts with a history of producing technological advances and innovations, expertise in infectious diseases and drug development, and proven ability to work with challenging protein targets, employing state-of-the-art structural genomic research.   SSGCID’s primary mission is to determine the structure of ca. 70 protein targets from NIAID Category A-C agents, as well as emerging and re-emerging infectious disease organisms, each year for a period of five years.   The Van Voorhis lead UW PPG component provides high-throughput cloning and testing of target proteins in bacterial expression vectors, as well as large-scale protein production and purification.

KDOP synthase from B. pseudomallei