Wuyuan Lu, PH.D.
Co-Director, Division of Basic Science, Institute of Human Virology
Dr. Lu obtained his PH.D. from the Department of Chemistry at Purdue University and completed his post doctoral training at the Department of Cell Biology at the Scripps Research Institute. He then moved to the University of Chicago, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology as a research Associate (Assistant Professor). In 2000, he joined the faculty members at the Institute of Human Virology, University of Maryland as an associate professor. He has been a full professor in that department since 2009.
Dr. Lu’s interest ranges from his ground breaking studies in protein engineering via total chemical protein synthesis to discovery of novel peptides for targeted therapy. Currently he is interested in knowing what happens to functional properties of proteins when their side chains and backbone structures are altered in a way that is genetically unattainable. His group functionally and structurally characterizes proteins that are chemically assembled from (coded and non-coded) individual amino acids.
Another area of Dr. Lu’s interest is studying a class of anti-microbial peptides that are expressed in leukocytes and epithelial cells. They are broadly active against bacteria, fungi, and viruses, playing important roles in innate host defense against microbial infection. His studies are aimed at deciphering the molecular determinants of diverse functions of human defensins and elucidating their mechanisms of action in a variety of biological processes. Such knowledge may help design new anti-infective peptides to fight off infectious diseases.
One of Dr. Lu’s main focuses has been in discovery of novel antiviral and antitumor peptides for targeted molecular therapy. Compared with small molecule inhibitors, peptides are capable of antagonizing target proteins with high affinity and unsurpassed specificity. This line of research centers on applying the contemporary tools of synthetic protein chemistry, phage display, structural biology, and drug delivery to the discovery of peptide antagonists with desirable pharmacokinetic properties and functionalities that may be explored for therapeutic use. His targets include but not limited to HIV-1 matrix and capsid proteins as well as oncogenic proteins that negatively regulate the tumor suppressor protein p53.
Dr. Lu is the author or more than 80 peer-reviewed publications and has been the recipient of several NIH grants and scientific awards for his work in peptide and protein chemistry.