Description of Research with Kerensa Sorensen-Stowell

(In conjunction with Mark Pugh and Susan Ward)

I was formally trained to be a physical organic chemist, which means that I am trained to study stability, bond energy, enthalpies, entropies, etc. for organic molecules in relation to their modes or mechanism of action. The research I will be doing will be in conjunction with Brother Mark Pugh and Sister Susan Ward.  Each semester one of us will be the principle investigator in charge of directing the research on the molecule fosfomycin and its derivatives.

Fosfomycin is currently used clinically as an antimicrobial/antibiotic agent.  It has a broad spectrum of activity and thus is especially useful in a variety of infections.  At this point, fosfomycin is reserved for certain specific applications, usually where traditional antibiotics have proven ineffective, including UTI, meningitis, pneumonia and pyelonephritis. It is a great option for very critically ill patients where other antibiotics have failed.  However, in the United States, fosfomycin is only available in oral form.  This presents a problem - many critically ill patients cannot take drugs orally.  These patients would benefit from an IV form of the drug, but the only country to the world to offer that is Germany.

In conjunction with two other members of the BYU-Idaho Chemistry faculty, Brother Mark Pugh and Sister Susan Ward, our student mentored research will focus on the following questions: Why? Is there some inherent instability of fosfomycin in water - can this be overcome by pH adjustments, or the addition of some stabilizing factor? Or, is there some way that we can modify the structure of fosfomycin such that it retains the desired biological activity yet can effectively be put into an IV solution?

I will be specifically working on stability measurements of fosfomycin in water.  This will likely involve forming ionic salts of fosfomycin and any derivatives Brother Pugh and Sister Ward have been able to make (i.e. bis(cyclohexylammonium) salts, dipotassium salts, and diammonium salts) for starters.  Since we will be interested in stability in water based solutions, we will likely use different NMR techniques to monitor important signals via 1H NMR, 13C NMR, and potentially 31P NMR.  Other solution based techniques may also potentially be used to measure the stability of the fosfomycin molecule.

I will likely accommodate 1-4 students the semester that I am the principle investigator on this combined research effort with Mark Pugh and Susan Ward.  I will be in charge of this research project Winter Semester 2014.  If you are interested in doing research with me or with Brother Pugh or Sister Ward, come and talk to one of us.