Paul J. Hergenrother


Dr.  Hergenrother attended the University of Notre Dame, where he received his B.S. in Chemistry in 1994. From there he moved to the University of Texas at Austin, to conduct graduate research under the direction of Professor Stephen F. Martin. While in the Martin laboratory he elucidated the catalytic mechanism of phospholipase C, and completed the total synthesis of erythromycin B. He graduated with his PhD in Chemistry in 1999, and moved on as an American Cancer Society postdoctoral fellow to Harvard University, where he worked in the laboratory of Professor Stuart L. Schreiber in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology. While at Harvard he was involved in the development of small molecule microarrays as a platform for high-throughput compound screening. He established his own laboratory in the Department of Chemistry (and as an affiliate in the Department of Biochemistry) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2001. He was promoted to associate professor with tenure in 2006, and to full professor in 2010.

Dr. Hergenrother’s laboratory seeks to use small molecules to define and validate novel biological targets for the treatment of cancer. Specifically, they seek to identify compounds and targets that can be used in personalized anticancer therapy, that is, where the compound is matched with the known aberration in the cancer cell. In two prominent examples, they have identified a class of compounds that activates the enzyme procaspase-3, and another powerful class of antitumor compounds that is activated by NQO1, an enzyme over expressed in many solid tumors. Together with the laboratory of Prof. Tim Fan, the Hergenrother lab has conducted a phase I clinical trial of some of these compounds in pet dogs with lymphoma.


Drug discovery, structure-based design, high-throughput screening, anticancer clinical trials, enzyme activation

More Information

Visit to learn more about Dr. Hergenrother, including publication information.

*University of Illinois Cancer Center Member