Skip to Content

Home > Faculty > David W. Wright

David W. Wright

Title and Contact Information

Stevenson Professor & Department Chairman
Office: 7333 SC
Phone: (615) 322-2636
(615) 343-4371


Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1994


Nanomaterials Chemistry
Mass Spectrometry
Materials Chemistry
Inorganic Chemistry
Chemical Biology
Bioinorganic Chemistry
Bioanalytical Chemistry

In the News

Vanderbilt News-Vanderbilt University receives $100,000 Grand Challenges Explorations Grant for Innovative Global Health Research
Kavli Fellow for 2011 - Kavli/National Academy of Sciences Frontiers in Science Symposia
Research News @ Vanderbilt-David Wright (Chemistry) with Rick Haselton (Biomedical Engineering) and Ray Mernaugh (Biochemistry) supproted by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to develop low resource diagnostics for the developing world
Arts and Science-
Nothing to Sneeze At
Research News @ Vanderbilt-Professor David Wright has been elected as an AAAS Fellow




Bioinorganic and Biomaterials Chemistry

Biomineralization results in an expansive array of complex materials ranging from laminate composites and ceramics such as bones, teeth, and shells to magnetic materials such as the forms of magnetite found in magnetobacteria. It also produces non-linear optical materials, such as the unique peptide-coated cadmium sulfide particles which result from heavy metal detoxification mechanisms within some yeast and plants. These natural biominerals often represent unique crystal forms extending over several size domains that are synthesized in aqueous solutions at room temperature and standard pressure. Additionally, many of these crystal forms, and their associated properties, cannot be readily produced in the laboratory! Biomineralization processes also play important roles in the pathologies of a number of diseases including osteoporosis and malaria. Understanding these processes is leading to novel discoveries ranging from new materials to new therapeutic advances for the treatment of disease.

The primary focus of research in our group is the design, synthesis and characterization of organic templates capable of mediating the growth of biological important biominerals. Specific studies underway in our labs include:

  • Mechanistic and structural studies of the scaffold biopolymers that nucleate the critical detoxification mineral hemozoin within the digestive vacuole of the malaria parasite, Plasmodium falciparum.
  • Role of hemozoin in the modulation of host innate immune system response. Reactivity studies between hemozoin and fatty acid substrates indicate a wide distribution of highly immunomodulatory products including hydroxylated fatty acids, isoprostanes and prostaglandinds.
  • The use of combinatorial chemistry to understand the role of matrix peptides in the formations of monodisperse biogenic nanocrystals. These studies will yield functionalized building blocks for the construction of novel nanodevices
  • Diatoms form diverse nanopatterned silica structures. In contrast to many current materials approaches to the synthesis of patterned silica, biogenic silica is formed rapidly under mild conditions mediated by a highly post-translationally modified peptide. We are taking a wide variety of approaches in not only understanding the function of such peptides, but also in applying our methods to the design of new functionalized SiO2 materials.

Selected Publications

Adams NM, Wang KK, Caprioli AC, Thomas LC, Kankia B, Haselton FR, Wright DW. Quadruplex priming amplification for the detection of mRNA from surrogate patient samples. Analyst. 2014, 139 (7): 1644-52.

Jackson SR, McBride JR, Rosenthal SJ, Wright DW. Where's the Silver? Imaging Trace Silver Coverage on the Surface of Gold Nanorods. Journal of the American Chemical Society. 2014, 0 (0): [Epub ahead of print].

Davis KM, Bitting AL, Wright DW. On-particle detection of Plasmodium falciparum histidine-rich protein II by a "switch-on" iridium(III) probe. Analytical Biochemistry. 2013, 445 (0): 60-66.

Warnick KH, Wang B, Ciffel DE, Wright DW, Haglund RF, Pantelides ST. Room-Temperature Reactions for Self-Cleaning Molecular Nanosensors. NANO Letters. 2013, 13 (2): 798-802.

Davis KM, Swartz JD, Haselton FR, Wright DW. Low-Resource Method for Extracting the Malarial Biomarker Histidine-Rich Protein II To Enhance Diagnostic Test Performance. Analytical Chemistry. 2012, 84 (14): 6136-6142.

Harry RS, Hiatt LA, Kimmel DW, Carney CK, Halfpenny KC, Cliffel DE, Wright DW. Metabolic Impact of 4-Hydroxynonenal on Macrophage-Like RAW 264.7 Function and Activation. Chemical Reserach in Toxicology. 2012, 25 (8): 1643-1651.

Hiatt LA, McKenzie JR, Deravi LF, Harry RS, Wright DW, Cliffel DE. A printed superoxide dismutase coated electrode for the study of macrophage oxidative burst. Biosensors & Bioelectronics. 2012, 33 (1): 128-133.

Adams NM, Jackson SR, Haselton FR, Wright DW. Design, Synthesis, and Characterization of Nucleic-Acid-Functionalized Gold Surfaces for Biomarker Detection. Langmuir. 2012, 28 (2): 1068-1082.

Trantum JR, Wright DW, Haselton FR. Biomarker-Mediated Disruption of Coffee-Ring Formation as a Low Resource Diagnostic Indicator. Langmuir. 2012, 28 (4): 2187-2193.

Rock MT, McKinney BA, Yoder SM, Prudom CE, Wright DW, Crowe JE. Identification of potential human respiratory syncytial virus and metapneumovirus T cell epitopes using computational prediction and MHC binding assays. Journal of Immunological Methods. 2011, 374 (1-2): 13-17.

Sandlin RD, Carter MD, Lee PJ, Auschwitz JM, Leed SE, Johnson JD, Wright DW. Use of the NP-40 Detergent-Mediated Assay in Discovery of Inhibitors of beta-Hematin Crystallization. Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy. 2011, 55 (7): 3363-3369.

Bordelon H, Adams NM, Klemm AS, Russ PK, Williams JV, Talbot HK, Wright DW, Haselton FR. Development of a Low-Resource RNA Extraction Cassette Based on Surface Tension Valves. ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces. 2011, 3(6): 2161-2168.

Miller SA, Hiatt LA, Keil RG, Cliffel DE, Wright DW. Multifunctional nanoparticles as simulants for a gravimetric immunoassay. Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry. 2011, 399 (3): 1021-1029.

Perez JW, Vargis EA, Russ PK, Haselton FR, Wright DW. Detection of respiratory syncytial virus using nanoparticle amplified immuno-polymerase chain reaction. Analytical Biochemistry. 2011, 410 (1): 141-8.

Stiebler R, Hoang AN, Egan TJ, Wright DW, Oliveira MF. Increase on the Initial Soluble Heme Levels in Acidic Conditions Is an Important Mechanism for Spontaneous Heme Crystallization In Vitro. PLOS One. 2010, 5 (9): e12694.

Harry SR, Hicks DJ, Amiri KI, Wright DW. Hairpin DNA coated gold nanoparticles as intracellular mRNA probes for the detection of tyrosinase gene expression in melanoma cells. Chemical Communications. 2010, 46 (30): 5557-5559.

Boutaud O, Moore KP, Reeder BJ, Harry D, Howie AJ, Wang SH, Carney CK, Masterson TS, Amin T, Wright DW, Wilson MT, Oates JA, Roberts LJ. Acetaminophen inhibits hemoprotein-catalyzed lipid peroxidation and attenuates rhabdomyolysis-induced renal failure. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2010, 107 (6): 2699-2704.

Carter MD, Phelan VV, Sandlin RD, Bachmann BO, Wright DW. Lipophilic Mediated Assays for beta-Hematin Inhibitors. Combinatorial Chemistry & High Throughput Screening. 2010, 13 (3): 285-292.