Tor, Yitzhak
Ligand-nucleic acid interactions; Antiviral and antibacterial agents; Fluorescent nucleosides and nucleotides; Cellular delivery vehicles

Contact Information
Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry
George W. and Carol A. Lattimer Professor

Office: Pacific Hall 6225A
Phone: 858-534-6401
Group: View group members
1990 Ph.D., The Weizmann Institute of Science
1982 B.Sc., Tel Aviv University
1993 , Appointed to faculty, University of Chicago
1990 Research Fellow, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, California Institute of Technology
Awards and Academic Honors
The George W. and Carol A. Lattimer Campus Professor
Editor-In-Chief Organic Chemistry Insights
Teddy Traylor Scholar in Organic Chemistry
Editor-in-Chief "Perspectives in Medicinal Chemistry"
Hellman Faculty Fellowship
Research Interests
Outlined below are three major areas of current interest:

RNA-Small Molecule Interactions

Little is known about the interactions between small organic molecules and RNA biomolecules despite the central role RNA plays in numerous biological processes. The long term goal of our program is to understand RNA-ligand interactions and to develop small molecules that specifically interfere with the formation of essential RNARNA and RNAprotein complexes. This involves analyzing the structural and functional features of multiple families of RNA binding molecules by applying synthetic chemistry, biochemical assays, and biophysical tools. Revealing the "language" employed by proteins and small molecules to recognize RNA is applied for the design and synthesis of novel antibacterial and antiviral agents.

New Luminescent Molecules

We explore the fabrication of new emissive probes based on both organic and metal-containing chromophores. The ultimate goals of this program are: (a) to understand the relationship between structure and emission properties, (b) to develop fluorescent analogs of biologically important building blocks (e.g., nucleosides), and (c) to assemble biophysical assays for monitoring nucleic acid recognition.

Cellular Delivery

Facilitating the uptake of molecules into living cells is of substantial interest for basic research and drug delivery applications. We explore delivery systems based on guanidinoglycosides, a family of synthetic transporters that can carry large, bioactive molecules across cell membranes. We investigate the mechanism of uptake and explore its potential for cell-selective drug delivery.

Primary Research Area
Organic Chemistry
Interdisciplinary interests
Physical Organic

Outreach Activities
To facilitate the career of a minority student in my laboratory, I secured two supplemental grants via PA-08-190 (NIH's “Research Supplements to Promote Diversity in Health-Related Research”). One grant was obtained through NIAID and another, more recently, through NIGMS. In securing these supplemental grants, a professional and career development plan for the student was put into place.

In addition to my regular mentoring activities, I also participate as a mentor in the Summer Training Academy for Research and Science (STARS) program, which is designed to provide ethnically underrepresented students, and PhD-bound students, with research experience.

Active with the Socrates program at UCSD. In this capacity I lecture to the teachers involved in the program (who usually come from schools in underserved areas of San Diego) and have them visit my laboratories.
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Selected Publications