Tezcan Guney

PhD in Organic Chemistry. 2014

Drug Discovery

Tezcan Guney utilizes problem solving every day — for a better tomorrow. His work entails the discovery of new antibiotics that will be effective against antibiotic resistant pathogens.

Guney, who graduated from Iowa State in 2014 with a Ph.D. in organic chemistry, works as a postdoctoral research scholar at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) in New York.

"I've always been interested in taking part in a multidisciplinary drug discovery project with my expertise in the design and synthesis of organic molecules and learning more about chemical biology and other emerging concepts in the biomedical sciences," Guney said.

During his time as a student at Iowa State he completed several projects in synthetic organic chemistry that honed his problem solving and critical thinking skills and prepared him for his current work.

“Drug discovery research seemed to be a natural direction for me as I worked on the synthesis of biologically active molecules during my Ph.D. at ISU,” Guney said.

In many disease areas natural products produced by plants and microorganisms have been vital to the development of new therapeutic agents. Researchers often rely on advancements in synthetic chemistry to understand how the structure of the molecules relates to their biological function, an important step in evaluating how well these products may work as therapeutic drugs. Beyond drug discovery efforts in infectious diseases, he also synthesizes novel molecules and through collaborations evaluates their activities against challenging targets such as cancer.

"The creative aspect of problem-solving, and that my contributions may collectively impact society is very enjoyable and inspirational," Guney said. “Every challenging synthesis project during my Ph.D. helped me further develop my skills that I use on a daily basis as a chemist today.”

In particular, Guney said his adviser, George Kraus, was very supportive of him and provided numerous opportunities to build the essential skills he needed to move on to the next stage of his career as a scientist.

"As a graduate student, I really enjoyed having access to the cutting-edge research facilities, instruments, and workspaces that enabled my research and training," Guney said. "However, I believe that most importantly it is the warm, friendly, and cooperative culture at its core, which makes ISU a perfect place for higher education.”