David Sherman, Ph.D.

Hans W. Vahlteich Professor of Medicinal Chemistry


Prof. Sherman received his B.A. in chemistry at UC Santa Cruz (1978) and Ph.D. in synthetic organic chemistry at Columbia University with Gilbert Stork (1981). After working at Biogen Research Corporation, he moved to the John Innes Institute as a research scientist with Sir Prof. David A. Hopwood (1987-1990). Following 13 years at the University of Minnesota, Prof. Sherman moved to the University of Michigan in 2003, and is now the Hans W. Vahlteich Professor of Medicinal Chemistry, Professor of Chemistry, and Professor of Microbiology & Immunology. He is also Research Professor in the Life Sciences Institute.

Research Interests

Prof. Sherman's research laboratory pursues the discovery and analysis of diverse natural products and their biosynthetic pathways from bacteria and fungi. Of particular interest is the genetic, biochemical and structural mechanisms involved in polyketide assembly and tailoring to produce complex secondary metabolites with potent activities against a range of targets, including cancer and infectious diseases. Current efforts include the isolation of new marine-derived bacteria and fungi from diverse habitats in Central America, the IndoPacific Region, the eastern Caribbean and the Red Sea. The bulk of the laboratory’s pure culture collection is comprised of sediment derived shallow and deep-water actinomycetes and fungi. More recently, metagenomic and metaproteomic technologies have been employed to identify, assemble and characterize natural product pathways from symbiont microbial consortia. Heterologous expression, synthetic biology and pathway engineering approaches are being developed to express these pathways for the discovery of new natural product anticancer agents.


The role of HTS in drug discovery at the University of Michigan. Larsen MJ, Larsen SD, Fribley A, Grembecka J, Homan K, Mapp A, Haak A, Nikolovska-Coleska Z, Stuckey JA, Sun D, Sherman DH.

Comb Chem High Throughput Screen. 2014 Mar;17(3):210-30. Fungal origins of the bicyclo[2.2.2]diazaoctane ring system of prenylated indole alkaloids. Finefield JM, Frisvad JC, Sherman DH, Williams RM. J Nat Prod. 2012 Apr 27;75(4):812-33. doi: 10.1021/np200954v. Epub 2012 Apr 15.

Comparative analysis of the biosynthetic systems for fungal bicyclo[2.2.2]diazaoctane indole alkaloids: the (+)/(-)-notoamide, paraherquamide and malbrancheamide pathways. Li S, Anand K, Tran H, Yu F, Finefield JM, Sunderhaus JD, McAfoos TJ, Tsukamoto S, Williams RM, Sherman DH. Medchemcomm. 2012 Aug;3(8):987-996.

Biochemical characterization of NotB as an FAD-dependent oxidase in the biosynthesis of notoamide indole alkaloids. Li S, Finefield JM, Sunderhaus JD, McAfoos TJ, Williams RM, Sherman DH. J Am Chem Soc. 2012 Jan 18;134(2):788-91. doi: 10.1021/ja2093212. Epub 2011 Dec 28. Erratum in: J Am Chem Soc. 2012 Dec 19;134(50):20565.

Complementary cell-based high-throughput screens identify novel modulators of the unfolded protein response.
Fribley AM, Cruz PG, Miller JR, Callaghan MU, Cai P, Narula N, Neubig RR, Showalter HD, Larsen SD, Kirchhoff PD, Larsen MJ, Burr DA, Schultz PJ, Jacobs RR, Tamayo-Castillo G, Ron D, Sherman DH, Kaufman RJ. J Biomol Screen. 2011 Sep;16(8):825-35. doi: 10.1177/1087057111414893.