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Leslie Hicks, PhD, studies antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) and the role of microbiome-produced AMPs on host physiology and their role in the development of cancer.

Associate Professor, Chemistry
UNC-Chapel Hill
Molecular Therapeutics

Area of Interest

Natural products have served as sources for new leads and inspiration for novel chemistries at the forefront of drug discovery. Antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) have long been known to play roles in innate defense and have broad capability for antimicrobial, antiviral and anticancer activities. Ubiquitously expressed for both signaling and defense, AMPs remain an underexplored resource for the identification of new bioactive species.

We have developed PepSAVI-MS, a peptidomics platform for discovery and characterization of new peptides through a rationalized hybrid bioassay-guided/top-down mass spectrometry-based platform and revealed novel anticancer peptides. Harnessing the power of mass spectrometry-based proteomics/peptidomics continues to open the door for investigating purpose-guided extracts with a new lens, and has the potential to lead to the discovery of novel chemistries at the forefront of modern drug discovery, as well as reveal the role of microbiome-produced AMPs on host physiology and their role in the development of cancer.

Awards and Honors

  • SfRBM Mentoring Excellence Award, 2020
  • William C. Friday/Class of 1986 Award for Excellence in Teaching, 2020
  • ACS WCC Rising Star Award, 2020
  • Agnes Fay Morgan Research Award, Iota Sigma Pi, 2019
  • Marshall University College of Science Distinguished Alumni, 2019
  • Eli Lilly Young Investigator Award in Analytical Chemistry, 2018
  • Robert J. Cotter New Investigator Award, US HUPO, 2018
  • NSF CAREER Award, 2015
  • Arthur C. Neish Young Investigator Award, Phytochemical Soc. North America, 2014

Find publications on PubMed

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