Affiliated Faculty

The MIDD resides within UWM’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and serves a broad mission to facilitate drug discovery and development programs across the UWM drug research community. The Institute serves as a unique resource to build the cross-disciplinary collaborations essential in drug development and coordinate our research strengths to address major needs in disease therapy.


MIDD Affiliated Faculty

Alexander Arnold, PhD

Dr. Alexander (Leggy) Arnold research is focused to elucidate the role of vitamin D receptor-coregulator interactions, especially in respect to vitamin D receptor mediated gene regulation, by using small molecule inhibitors that represent new drug candidates for metabolic disease and cancer. His lab supports high throughput screening (HTS), medical chemistry, biochemistry and molecular biology. More Info >


Yi-Qiang (Eric) Cheng, PhD

Dr. Cheng's research encompasses drug discovery and development based on microbial natural products. We apply multidisciplinary sciences to decipher the mechanisms by which interested bioactive natural products are biosynthesized by microorganisms, and to explore natural product biosynthetic pathways to produce more desirable compounds as drugs or drug leads. More Info >


James Cook, PhD

Dr. Cook is a University Distinguished Professor having a research focus on medicinal and synthetic organic chemistry. A key NIH-funded program deals with the design and synthesis of GABAAergic benzodiazepine receptor modulator ligands for the treatment of anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, neuropathic pain, Alzheimer’s disease, as well as alcohol dependence. More Info >

David N. Frick, PhD

Dr. Frick studies proteins that viruses synthesize in order to replicate in human cells because drugs used to treat viral infections typically target viral enzymes. The goal of this work is to develop new treatments for common and debilitating diseases such as AIDS and hepatitis C. Dr. Frick and his colleagues have studied viral proteases and polymerases, which are common antiviral drug targets, and less common targets such as helicases and capsid proteins. More Info >


Fred Helmstetter, PhD

Dr. Helmstetter’s primary research focus is on understanding how information is stored in the nervous system. He is interested in mechanisms of synaptic plasticity and how networks of neurons work together to process and store information.  Several projects related to brain mechanisms of emotion and anxiety  are currently underway in addition to work on memory.  His laboratory uses a variety of technical approaches in laboratory animals and human subjects ranging from molecular neurobiology to non-invasive functional brain imaging with fMRI and MEG as well as behavioral studies.


M. Mahmun Hossain, PhD

Dr. Hossain’s group is interested to develop novel organic reactions that will simplify the synthesis of existing biologically active compounds and also enable the generation of a new class of therapeutics for human diseases. Currently, his group is focused on developing a new and concise synthetic procedure for tryptophan-based anti-cancer microtubule inhibitors tryprostatin A and B and their analogs. More Info >

Guilherme L. Indig, PhD

Research interests lie in the broadly defined areas of photochemistry and photobiology. The main objective of my research program is the development of new modalities of cancer treatment based on selective targeting of neoplastic tissue with highly cytotoxic free radicals and electronically excited species. Current research focuses primarily on the concepts of mitochondrial targeting and the development of new strategies to treat multi-drug resistant tumors.

Xiaohua Peng, PhD

Interdisciplinary research is focused on nucleic acid chemistry and its applications in various fields including drug discovery, DNA diagnostics, and nanotechnology. The research group investigates the structural basis for carcinogenic and anticancer activity of DNA- and protein-modifying agents and studies structurally modified nucleosides and amino acids as potential antitumor, antiviral, and/or anticancer agents.

David H. Petering, PhD

Dr. Petering helped to pioneer the field of metallodrugs, particularly ones that utilize or target the biologically essential metals, iron, copper, and zinc.  Currently, his research focuses on agents that modulate the biochemical function of zinc-finger proteins, such as Sp1 and the nucleocapsid GAG protein of the AIDS virus.  In addition, he is characterizing the underlying bioinorganic chemistry of agents that image essential and toxic metals in cells with the aim to develop new sensors and new uses for such compounds.

Alan Schwabacher, PhD

Research projects are designed to investigate the way multiple interactions cooperate, leading to high specificity binding. An example includes molecular assembly in presence of a metal ion, which forms a complex that selectively binds a guest molecule using a well-oriented combination of hydrophobic and polar interactions. Efficient combinatorial approaches will lead to more information.

Nicholas Silvaggi, PhD

Dr. Silvaggi received his degree in biophysics from the University of Connecticut and did post-doctoral work in structural enzymology at Boston University. He has studied the relationship between structure and function in human α-phosphomannomutase, and enzyme responsible for a congenital illness in humans, and has helped to develop small-molecule inhibitors of the botulinum neurotoxin. More Info >

Douglas Stafford, PhD

Dr. Stafford joined UWM in 2011 to become MIDD Director. He has over 20 years of experience in biomedical product companies with senior management responsibilities in research and development, manufacturing operations, regulatory and clinical affairs, organizational development, patent licensing, and finance. More Info >


Rodney Swain, PhD

Research examines the relationship between motor activity and plasticity of vascular and synaptic networks of the brain--particularly the hippocampus, cerebellum, and motor cortex. Studies also address the impact that these plastic changes have on learning and memory.


Kristene Surerus, PhD

Research is focused on the chemistry of iron, with an emphasis on how iron is utilized by biological organisms. The major aim is to understand the role played by iron, whether it is catalytic, structural or an electron transfer agent. The mechanism and regulation whereby iron-sulfur clusters are incorporated into proteins is an area of active research.