Specifically, May is targeting complex chemical compounds that can be tested for biological activity. These structures may have a role in disease management, such as efforts to treat cancer and malaria. Researchers, May says, often have insufficient amounts of these compounds for testing. Finding ways to speed up the process of synthesizing complex chemical structures can help scientists increase the availability of compounds of high interest to research. When May's lab makes compounds, they are shared with colleagues in the Texas Medical Center, where they are kept in a library of chemicals available for screening.
"If they are looking to block the actions that help a cancer cell replicate, they can screen all the chemical compounds in the library to see if one shuts down the mode of action," May said. "Our work won't go directly into a clinic or directly tackle a disease, but we will kick off the chain of events."
In addition to his genuine love of chemistry, May enjoys sharing his enthusiasm with young students. Part of May's grant includes an educational activity with KIPP Sharpstown College Prep, which is a free, college-preparatory, public school for fifth through eighth grade, serving the Gulfton and Sharpstown neighborhoods of southwest Houston.
"I learned about the school through a friend who teaches history there," May said. "My goal is to get the students on the UH campus for a day so they can start visualizing what college is like."
Each June, KIPP Sharptown's seventh and eighth grade students will tour May's lab and learn about the work done there and the process of doing scientific researc
|Contact: Lisa Merkl|
University of Houston