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Dr. Sean Kerwin


Dr. Sean Kerwin

Contact Information

Office:  CENT 403

Phone:  (512) 245-1056

Fax:  (512) 245-2374


Educational Background

  • B.S., Chemistry, University of Notre Dame
  • Ph.D., Chemistry, University of California, Berkeley
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, University of California, San Francisco

Areas of Interest

  • Medicinal Chemistry
  • Organic Synthesis
  • Biochemistry
Related Web Sites

Kerwin Research Group Webpage





Research in the Kerwin Group

Our research is concerned with the chemistry of natural and designed small and large molecules related to drug discovery, particularly targeting cancer and infectious diseases.  Our work spans a breadth of approaches including organic synthesis and physical organic chemistry, nucleic acid and protein biochemistry, and natural products chemistry. By integrating these methods, we explore fundamental processes in nature and investigate the implications of these processes in the discovery of potential new therapeutic agents.

One of our current research projects focuses on the exploring the chemistry of N-alkynyl moieties and the design of novel diradical- and carbene-generating reactions as synthetic tools and for use as molecular probes and cancer cell-selective cytotoxic  agents.  Another research area focuses on designing compounds that exploit the biologically interesting properties of natural products while improving upon the ADME properties that often plague the drug development of this class of leads.  We also continue our focus on understanding the chemistry and potential biological roles of non-canonical DNA structures, particularly G-quadruplex and triplex forms. 

Students and trainees who carry out their research in the Kerwin group learn a variety of techniques and approaches including: computational chemistry, organic synthesis, chemical kinetics, spectroscopy, in vitro metabolic studies, and various HPLC and gel eletrophoretic methods of analysis.

Recent Publications

McBrayer, D.; Kerwin, S. M. “Synthesis and Evaluation of a Rationally Designed Click-based Library for G-Quadruplex Selective DNA Photocleavage” Molecules 2015, 20(9), 16446-16465.

Laroche, C.; Gilbreath, B.; Kerwin, S. M. “Exploring the Synthetic Utility of 1-Alkynylimidazoles: Regiocontrolled Cyclization to Diverse Imidazoazines and Imidazoazoles” Tetrahedron 2014, 70, 4534-4539.

Yang, J.; Bowman, P. D.; Kerwin, S. M.; Stavchansky, S. “Development and Validation of an LCMS Method to Determine the Pharmacokinetic Profiles of Caffeic Acid Phenethyl Amide and Caffeic Acid Phenethyl Ester in Sprague-Dawley Rats” Biomed. Chromatogr. 2014, 28, 241-246.

Kerwin, S. M.; Cha, J. “A Concise Synthesis of Rooperol and Related 1,5-Diarylpent-1-en-4-ynes” Tetrahedron Lett. 2014, 55, 137-141.

Li, J.; Kaoud, T. S.; LeVieux, J.; Gilbreath, B.; Moharana, S.; Dalby, K, N.; Kerwin, S. M. “A Fluorescence-based Assay for p38α Docking Site Binders: Identification of the Hypoxis Natural Product Rooperol as a Novel p38α Kinase Inhibitor” ChemBioChem 2013, 14, 66–71.