Aaron Monte, Ph.D.

Professor and Chair

Department of Chemistry
University of Wisconsin-La Crosse
La Crosse, WI 54601
Office: 4001 Cowley Hall
Phone: 608.785.8260
Lab Phone: 608.785.8290
Fax: 608.785.8281
Email: monte.aaro@uwlax.edu

monte home

teaching / courses

research interests

J. Undergrad. Res.

chemistry department

Research Interests

Since joining the Chemistry Department in 1995, I have supervised the work of over 50 undergraduate (and high school) students in a variety of research projects. Highly motivated students interested in gaining hands-on experience in synthetic organic chemistry, biochemistry, and pharmacology, as they pertain to drug development and drug discovery are welcome to join my research groups, as space and funding permit. Please drop by my office at any time to discuss potential research opportunities in my laboratories.

Below are some details on my ongoing research interests/efforts:

Structure-Activity Relationships of Hallucinogens. An area of primary interest to me is studying the mechanisms of action and structure-activity relationships (SAR) of hallucinogens, or psychedelics, as they interact with serotonergic neurons of the central nervous system (CNS). In this work, students use organic chemical techniques to construct rigid analogs of drugs that are designed to have very high afffinity for serotonin receptors in the CNS. These novel analogs are then used to map the atomic-level topography of serotonin receptors, in particular, the serotonin 5-HT2A subtype. Ultimately, I am intereted in understanding the biochemical basis of altered states of consciousness and how biological brain intersects with higher mental, emotional, and "spiritual" realms of experience.

Discovery of Drugs from Natural Sources. In collaboration with Drs. Rott and Schwan (Microbiology) and Dr. Volk (Biology), we are engaged in a drug discovery effort primarily directed at isolating novel antibiotic drug molecules from plants and fungi. Students involved in this work extract, isolate, and purify chemical compounds from traditional herbal remedies (such as those used by WI Native American healers) and wild fungi from around the world. Compounds are then tested for various anti-microbial, and other, biological activities and structures are solved using modern spectroscopic methods.

Synthesis of Fumarase Inhibitors. In collaboration with Dr. Todd Weaver (Chemistry), a structural biochemist at UW-L, we are working to determine the transition state structure of fumarase, a key enzyme in the Krebs cycle. In this work, students use synthetic organic chemical techniques to prepare known inhibitors of fumarase and then work to crytallize the enzyme-inhibitor complex. Ultimately, we hope to better understand the structure and function of this important enzyme and biochemical pathway.