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Drew Adams
Assistant Professor
Department of Genetics
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University
Biomedical Research Building
2109 Adelbert Road
Cleveland, Ohio 44106-4955
Tel: (216) 368-4922
Fax: (216) 368-3432

About Drew Adams

Drew Adams graduated from Swarthmore College (B.A., Biochemistry, Highest Honors) and obtained his Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry at Harvard University. Seeking to pair organic synthesis with the ability to explore the effects of small molecules in biological systems, he undertook postdoctoral studies at the Broad Institute with Prof. Stuart L. Schreiber of the Center for the Science of Therapeutics. There he used high-throughput techniques to identify bioactive molecules that affected cellular redox state and characterize the response of nearly 1,000 cancer cell lines to ionizing radiation and other cell-stress inducing small molecules. Drew will join the Genetics Department in early 2015 as Assistant Professor and Director of the High-Throughput Screening Core, a newly-built facility enabling high-throughput screens using bioactive and diverse chemical libraries. These efforts in 'academic drug discovery' can maximize the translational impact of basic research findings across CWRU.

Postdoctoral research opportunities will be available in early 2015 for outstanding organic chemists with a strong interest in synthesizing small molecules for biological evaluation. Please contact Drew for additional details.


The Adams lab will work at the interface of chemistry and biology, first using synthesis and high-throughput screening to identify new bioactive drug-like molecules, and then using biological techniques to characterize the cellular mechanisms of leading hits. In many cases, our specialized expertise may lead to productive collaborations. Ongoing examples include longstanding work with Dr. Mohamed Abazeed, a radiation oncologist at the Cleveland Clinic, to use high-throughput approaches to characterize new genomic alterations that correlate with sensitivity to ionizing radiation and new radiosensitizing small molecules.

One area of focus within the lab is the identification of new small molecules that modulate protein function by irreversible (covalent) attachment. The FDA approval of Ibrutinib and other targeted covalent kinase inhibitors has led to a growing understanding that irreversible inhibitors are not necessarily 'dirty' drugs and can instead be safe and effective therapies. We anticipate that various protein families beyond kinases can be studied using targeted covalent inhibitors and are synthesizing new collections of small molecules for biological evaluation. One molecule with nanomolar affinity has recently been identified from such a library and co-crystallized with its protein target, revealing a covalent bond with a tyrosine hydroxyl group. With this high-quality tool compound in hand, current efforts seek to understand the compound's cellular effects.

Selected Publications

Adams, D. J.; Ito, D.; Rees, M. G.; Seashore-Ludlow, B.; Puyang, X.; Ramos, A. H.; Cheah, J. H.; Clemons, P. A.; Warmuth, M.; Zhu, P.; Shamji, A. F.; Schreiber, S. L. (2014)
NAMPT is the Cellular Target of STF-31-Like Small Molecule Probes
ACS Chem. Biol.;(In Press)

Abazeed ME, Adams DJ, Hurov KE, Tamayo P, Creighton CJ, Sonkin D, Giacomelli AO, Du C, Fries DF, Wong KK, Mesirov JP, Loeffler JS, Schreiber SL, Hammerman PS, Meyerson M (2013)
Integrative radiogenomic profiling of squamous cell lung cancer.
Cancer Res;73(20):6289-98
See PubMed abstract

Boskovic ZV, Hussain MM, Adams DJ, Dai M, Schreiber SL (2013)
Synthesis of piperlogs and analysis of their effects on cells.
See PubMed abstract

Adams DJ, Boskovic ZV, Theriault JR, Wang AJ, Stern AM, Wagner BK, Shamji AF, Schreiber SL (2013)
Discovery of small-molecule enhancers of reactive oxygen species that are nontoxic or cause genotype-selective cell death.
ACS Chem Biol;8(5):923-9
See PubMed abstract

Adams DJ, Dai M, Pellegrino G, Wagner BK, Stern AM, Shamji AF, Schreiber SL (2012)
Synthesis, cellular evaluation, and mechanism of action of piperlongumine analogs.
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A;109(38):15115-20
See PubMed abstract

Yuan Y, Wang Q, Paulk J, Kubicek S, Kemp MM, Adams DJ, Shamji AF, Wagner BK, Schreiber SL (2012)
A small-molecule probe of the histone methyltransferase G9a induces cellular senescence in pancreatic adenocarcinoma.
ACS Chem Biol;7(7):1152-7
See PubMed abstract

Evans, D. A.; Adams, D. J.; Kwan, E. E. (2012)
Progress Toward the Syntheses of (+)-GB 13, (+)-Himgaline, and Himandridine. New Insights Into Imine/Enamine Aldol Cyclizations
J. Am. Chem. Soc.;134, 8162-8170

Evans, D. A.; Adams, D. J. (2007)
Total Synthesis of (+)-Galbulimima Alkaloid 13 and (+)-Himgaline
J. Am. Chem. Soc.;129, 1048-1049

Paley RS, Liu JM, Lichtenstein BR, Knoedler VL, Sanan TT, Adams DJ, Fernández J, Rablen PR (2003)
Simultaneous and stereoselective formation of planar and axial chiralities in enantiopure sulfinyl iron diene complexes.
Org Lett;5(3):309-12
See PubMed abstract