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Dr. Alexander Kornienko


Dr. Alexander Kornienko

Contact Information

Office:  CHEM 319

Phone:  (512) 245-3632

Fax:  (512) 245-2374


Educational Background

  • B.S in Chemical Engineering, Mendeleev University, Moscow, Russia, 1994
  • Ph.D. in Chemistry, Tufts University, Boston, USA, 1999
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, Université de Montréal, Canada, 2001

Honors and Awards

Denise M. Trauth Endowed Presidental Research Professorship [2021] for his research exploring novel synthetic organic chemistry and its utilization for anticancer drug discovery. 

Presidential Award for Excellence in Scholarly/Creative Activities, 2016


Areas of Interest

  • Synthetic Organic Chemistry (total synthesis and methodology)
  • Chemical Biology (focus on cancer signaling and death pathways)
  • Medicinal Chemistry (rational drug design and library screening)
  • Natural Product Chemistry (isolation, structure elucidation and analogue synthesis)
Related Web Sites

Kornienko CV

Research Group Page:




Research in the Kornienko Group

The unifying theme of Kornienko’s research projects is the discovery of novel synthetic organic chemistry and its utilization for anticancer drug discovery. For example, in one of the ongoing projects we discovered a new multicomponent reaction allowing for the construction of a pyrrole ring and applied it to the first general total synthesis of marine alkaloid rigidins (A below). The synthesis facilitated further synthetic and biological studies, which led to the discovery of a new anticancer scaffold based on the hypoxanthine core structure (B). These new agents are active at nanomolar concentrations against melanoma and glioblastoma, cancers with dismal clinical prognoses, and can now be made through a 4-component reaction in one step from commercially available reagents (B).

Kornienko 1
Our cancer drug discovery work emphasizes the development of innovative methods to combat apoptosis-resistant cancers, such as melanoma, glioblastoma, lung cancer, among others. Thus, much effort is applied toward the identification and investigation of natural products that exhibit antimetastatic properties at non-toxic concentrations or induce non-apoptotic cancer cell death, such as programmed necrosis, autophagy or paraptosis. We collaborate with a large group of cancer biologists and clinicians in the US and Europe. Examples of natural products, which are currently studied in Dr. Kornienko’s lab, are shown below.


Red-light activation of a microtubule polymerization inhibitor via amide functionalization of the ruthenium photocage. Bretin, L.; Husiev, Y.; Ramu, V.; Zhang, L.; Hakkennes, M.; Abyar, S.; Johns, A. C.; Le Devedec, S. E.; Betancourt, T.; Kornienko, A.; Bonnet, S. Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2024, 63, e202316425.

Lessons in organic fluorescent probe discovery. Wagh, S. B.; Maslivetc, V. A.; La Clair, J. J.; Kornienko, A. ChemBioChem, 2021, 22, 3109-3139.

Photo-uncaging of a microtubule-targeted rigidin analogue in hypoxic cancer cells and in a xenograft mouse model. van Rixel, V. H. S.; Ramu, V.; Auyeung, A. B.; Beztsinna, N.; Leger, D. Y.; Lameijer, L. N.; Hilt, S. T.; Le Devedec S. E.; Yilidiz, T.; Betancourt, T.; Gildner, M. B.; Hudnall, T. W.; Sol, V.; Liagre, B.; Kornienko, A.; Bonnet, S. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2019, 141, 18444-18454.

Novel Microtubule-Targeting 7-Deazahypoxanthines Derived from Marine Alkaloid Rigidins with Potent in Vitro and in Vivo Anticancer Activities. Medellin, D. C.; Zhou, Q.; Scott, R.; Hill, R. M.; Frail, S. K.; Dasari, R.; Ontiveros, S. J.; Pelly, S. C.; van Otterlo, W. A. L.; Betancourt, T. B.; Shuster, C. B.; Hamel, E.; Bai, R.; LaBarbera, D. V.; Rogelj, S.; Frolova, L. V.; Kornienko, A. J. Med. Chem. 2016, 59, 480-485.

Exploring Natural Product Chemistry and Biology with Multicomponent Reactions. 5. Discovery of a Novel Tubulin-Targeting Scaffold Derived from the Rigidin Family of Marine Alkaloids. Frolova, L. V.; Magedov, I. V.; Romero, A. E.; Karki, M.; Otero, I.; Hayden, K.; Evdokimov, N. M.;Banuls L. M. Y.; Rastogi, S. K.; Smith, W. R.; Lu, S. L.; Kiss, R.; Shuster, C. B.; Hamel, E.; Betancourt, T.; Rogelj, S.; Kornienko, A. J. Med. Chem. 2013, 56, 6886.

Perspective: Therapeutic Agents Triggering Non-Apoptotic Cancer Cell Death. Kornienko, A.; Mathieu, V.; Rastogi, S.; Lefranc, F.; Kiss, R. J. Med. Chem. 2013, 56, 4823.