Biological chemist Seyedsayamdost named full professor; research focused on pharmaceutical uses of small molecules

Monday, Jul 26, 2021
by Jonathan Garaffa

Mohammad Seyedsayamdost, a biological chemist investigating the synthesis of novel molecules with therapeutic properties, has been promoted to full professor in the Department of Chemistry. He leads the Seyedsayamdost Group, or “Mo” Lab, a lab under the departments of both chemistry and molecular biology. Seyedsayamdost also holds appointments in the Department of Molecular Biology, the High Meadows Environmental Institute, and the School of Public and International Affairs.

Seyedsayamdost’s research concerns small molecules, which bacteria use to respond to their environment as well as to communicate and compete with other microbes. The Mo Lab investigates the functions, biosynthetic pathways, enzymatic reaction mechanisms, and communication processes related to these small molecules and the microbes that use them. Nearly 70 percent of clinical antibiotics, including penicillin, come from natural products resulting from microbial biosynthetic pathways. The lab finds creative ways to use small molecules to activate these otherwise "silent" inactive pathways, resulting in natural products that allow for research into potential medicinal applications.

Seyedsayamdost was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship in October 2020, one of the most prestigious private grants in the nation. On behalf of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, he will receive $625,000 in unrestricted grants over five years to further his research. His other accolades include the Novartis Life Sciences Research Foundation Fellowship, the NIH Pathway to Independence Award (K99/R00), the Searle Scholars Award, the Pew Biomedical Scholars Awards, Princeton’s Intellectual Property Accelerator Award, and the NIH Director’s New Innovator Award. Seyedsayamdost was also recently selected to receive Dean for Research Innovation funding to explore how oxidative stress in microbes produces natural toxins that could form the next generation of antibiotic drugs.

“I am absolutely delighted to be promoted to full professor,” said Seyedsayamdost in the Department of Chemistry announcement. “This promotion honors the whole group, so a special thanks to all 'Mo' Lab members, past and present, for all their hard work and dedication."

Seyedsayamdost joined the Department of Chemistry faculty in 2013 as an assistant professor and advanced to associate professor with tenure in July 2019. Before coming to Princeton, he was a postdoctoral researcher at Harvard Medical School. Seyedsayamdost received a joint B.S./M.S. from Brandeis University in 2001 with highest honors and a Ph.D. from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2008.

Read about Seyedsayamdost’s appointment on the Department of Chemistry website.