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Brian O. Bachmann

Title and Contact Information

Associate Professor of Chemistry
Office: 7961 SC
Phone: (615) 322-8865
Vanderbilt University
Nashville, TN 37235
Email   •   Website


Ph.D., Johns Hopkins University, 2000


Synthetic Biology
Organic Chemistry
Natural Products
Mechanistic Enzymology
Chemical Biology

In the News

Vanderbilt View-Chemist discovers research is more fun underground
NIH-Drugs from deep down
BBC News-Brian Bachmann found bacteria in caves that could help develop future antibiotics
Research News @ Vanderbilt-New tool for mining bacterial genome for novel drugs
Research News @ Vanderbilt-Vanderbilt awarded $16.5 million agreement to determine how toxic agents affect human cells
Research News @ Vanderbilt-Shifting evolution into reverse promises cheaper, greener way to make new drugs
Nashville Scene-Vanderbilt researchers suggest a pathway to lower drug costs and boosted production — using enzymes and reverse evolution

brian bachmann


The primary mission of the Bachmann Lab is to apply knowledge of the design rules for secondary metabolism at the chemical, biochemical and genetic levels toward the biosynthesis of "non-natural" compounds of high value to biomedical research and the clinic. Key to this program in "synthetic biology" is the dissection of the mechanisms by which life makes bioactive molecules in vivo. The lab is organized according to three interlocking research areas: Biosynthesis, Synthetic Biology, and Discovery. These subgroups each have basic research and applied components and overlap with one another both thematically and methodologically.


The focus of the biosynthesis research subgroup centers on investigating the biosynthesis of pharmacophores by microorganisms from a genetic to a chemical basis. In all cases, we target non-trivial biotransformations that have little or no precedent in prior research. To date, pathways have been targeted in the bacterial Order Actinomycetales (also called actinomycetes), one of the richest microbial sources of secondary metabololites.

Synthetic Biology

Synthetic Biology is a burgeoning field, the ambitious aim of which is to use the machinery of biological systems (DNA, RNA, proteins) for the production of synthetic compounds and materials of high value to research, medicine and human life. For small molecule synthesis, these methods offer totally new avenues for the production of compounds and an alternative to petrochemical-based chemical synthesis. We believe that the global societal impacts of synthetic biology will be far reaching in this century. The primary mission of the Bachmann lab is to apply this knowledge of the design rules for secondary metabolism at the chemical, biochemical and genetic levels toward the biosynthesis of "non-natural" compounds of high value to bio research and the clinic.

Drug Discovery

It is becoming increasingly apparent that natural products derived from microbes, plants and animals represent important contributors of chemical diversity for the development of sustainable drug discovery efforts. Brian Bachmann in his former (industrial) and current (academic) lab has developed a two-pronged approach for natural product discovery:

1. A strategy for leveraging microbial genomic sequence data to predict secondary metabolic potential of microorganisms and to utilizing these predictions to prioritize isolations, accelerate isolation and structural elucidations.

2. A strategy for integrating natural product discovery into contemporary high throughput screening technologies by A) rapid generation of natural product fraction libraries from unique biological sources and B) applied metabolomics technologies for the identification and discovery of antibiotic/cytotoxic compounds. Rapid identification of compounds correlated to a biological activity of interest drives the prioritization of a classic isolation/structure-elucidation cascade in the Bachmann lab.

Selected Publications

DeGuire SM, Earl DC, Du Y, Crews BA, Jacobs AT, Ustione A, Daniel C, Chong KM, Marnett LJ, Piston DW, Bachmann BO, Sulikowski GA. Fluorescent probes of the apoptolidins and their utility in cellular localization studies. Angewandte Chemie (International Ed. English). 2015, 54(3):961-4.

Stow SM1, Goodwin CR, Kliman M, Bachmann BO, McLean JA, Lybrand TP.Distance geometry protocol to generate conformations of natural products to structurally interpret ion mobility-mass spectrometry collision cross sections. Journal of Physical Chemistry B. 2014, 118(48):13812-20.

Derewacz DK, McNees CR, Scalmani G, Covington CL, Shanmugam G, Marnett LJ, Polavarapu PL, Bachmann BO.Structure and Stereochemical Determination of Hypogeamicins from a Cave-Derived Actinomycete. Journal of Natural Products. 2014. [Epub ahead of print]

Kramer GJ, Mohd A, Schwager SL, Masuyer G, Acharya KR, Sturrock ED, Bachmann BO.Interkingdom pharmacology of Angiotensin-I converting enzyme inhibitor phosphonates produced by actinomycetes. ACS Medicinal Chemistry Letters. 2014, 5(4):346-51.

McCranie EK, Bachmann BO. Bioactive oligosaccharide natural products. Natural Product Reports. 2014, 31(8):1026-42.

Goodwin CR, Sherrod SD, Marasco CC, Bachmann BO, Schramm-Sapyta N, Wikswo JP, McLean JA. Phenotypic mapping of metabolic profiles using self-organizing maps of high-dimensional mass spectrometry data. Analytical Chemistry. 2014, 86(13):6563-71.

Bachmann, B. O., Van Lanen, S. G., Baltz, R. H. Microbial genome mining for accelerated natural products discovery: is a renaissance in the making? Journal of Industrial Microbiology & Biotechnology. 2014, 41 (2): 175-184.

Tourtas, T., Schlomberg, J., Wessel, J. M., Bachmann, B. O., Schlotzer-Schrehardt, U., Kruse, F. E. Graft Adhesion in Descemet Membrane Endothelial Keratoplasty Dependent on Size of Removal of Host's Descemet Membrane. Jama Opthalmology. 2014, 132 (2): 155-161 .

Birmingham, W. R., Starbird, C. A., Panosian, T. D., Nannemann, D. P., Iverson, T. M., Bachmann, B. O. Bioretrosynthetic construction of a didanosine biosynthetic pathway. Nature Chemical Biology. 2014, 0 (0): . [Epub ahead of print].

Derewacz, D. K., Goodwin, C. R., McNees, C. R., McLean, J. A., Bachmann, B. O. Antimicrobial drug resistance affects broad changes in metabolomic phenotype in addition to secondary metabolism. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2013, 110 (6): 2336-2341.

Goodwin, C. R., Fenn, L. S., Derewacz, D. K., Bachmann, B. O., McLean, J. A. Structural Mass Spectrometry: Rapid Methods for Separation and Analysis of Peptide Natural Products. Journal of Natural Products. 2012, 67 (35): 48-53.

Iverson, T. M., Panosian, T. D., Birmingham, W. R., Nannemann, D. P., Bachmann, B. O. Molecular Differences between a Mutase and a Phosphatase: Investigations of the Activation Step in Bacillus cereus Phosphopentomutase. Biochemistry. 2012, 51 (9): 1964-1975.

Du, Y., Derewacz, D. K., Deguire, S. M., Teske, J., Ravel, J., Sulikowski, G. A. Biosynthesis of the apoptolidins in Nocardiopsis sp FU 40. Tetrahedron. 2011, 67 (35): 6568-6575.