Alan Healy

2017 Regional Award Finalist — Post-Doc

Alan Healy

Current Position:
Charles H. Revson Senior Fellow

Yale University

Chemical Biology

Recognized for: Creating the first and only synthetic model to study colibactin genotoxicity

Areas of Research Interest and Expertise: Natural Product Synthesis, chemical biology, human microbiome, cancer biology, polyketide biosynthesis


PhD, Chemistry, University of St Andrews, UK
MSc, Biomedical Science, University of Edinburgh, UK
B.A. (mod), Medicinal Chemistry, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland

Dr. Healy’s research centers on natural products chemistry with an emphasis on the synthesis and study of bioactive natural products and small molecules. He uses the tools of chemical biology to bring molecular-level resolution to the role of these molecules in human physiology and disease. Dr. Healy’s recent work uses this chemical toolbox to elucidate the role of the small molecules produced by the bacteria that normally inhabit the human gut. Technological advances in genetic sequencing and analysis has fueled a remarkable expansion of knowledge of the bacteria living in and on our bodies, known as the human microbiome. Nevertheless, functional characterization of the substances produced by these bacteria remains rare and accounts for a small fraction of what is predicted to exist in nature. To address this challenge, Dr. Healy and colleagues developed a multi-disciplinary approach to study the bacterial genotoxin colibactin, a product of the bacteria E. coli that isassociated with colorectal cancer development. This research has provided unique insight into the structure, biosynthesis, and mechanism of action of the colibactin genotoxins. Further research is underway to translate this fundamental knowledge into novel therapeutics for the prevention and treatment of cancer and to use this approach as a roadmap for studying related human–microbe systems.

“We are in an exciting new era for natural product drug discovery driven by the identification of vast untapped reserves of small molecules produced by microbes in complex ecosystems, in particular the human gut. The development of a robust synthetic platform to access these molecules will be essential to unraveling their role in human health and their repurposing as novel therapeutic modalities.”


Key Publications:

  1. Alan R. Healy, Herman Nikolayevskiy, Jaymin R. Patel, Jason M. Crawford and Seth. B. Herzon. “A Mechanistic Model for Colibactin-induced Genotoxicity.” J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2016, 138, 15563−15570
  2. Alan R. Healy, Maria I. Vizcaino, Jason M. Crawford, Seth B. Herzon. “Convergent and Modular Synthesis of Candidate Precolibactins. Structural Revision of Precolibactin A.” J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2016, 138, 5426–5432
  3. Alan R. Healy, Miho Izumikawa, Alexandra M.Z. Slawin, Kazuo Shin-ya, Nicholas J. Westwood. “Stereochemical Assignment of the Protein-Protein Interaction Inhibitor JBIR-22 by Total Synthesis.” Angew. Chem. Int. Ed.2015, 54, 4046-4050
  4. Alan R. Healy, Douglas R. Houston, Lucy Remnant, Anne-Sophie Huart, Veronika Brychtova, Magda M. Maslon, Olivia Meers, Petr Muller, Adam Krejci, Elizabeth A. Blackburn, Borek Vojtesek, Lenka Hernychova, Malcolm D. Walkinshaw, Nicholas J. Westwood, Ted R. Hupp. “Discovery of a novel ligand that modulates the protein–protein interactions of the AAA+ superfamily oncoprotein reptin.” Chem. Sci. 2015, 6, 3109-3116

Other Honors:

2017 Charles H. Revson Senior Fellowship in Biomedical Science
2016 Rudolph J. Anderson Postdoctoral Fellowship
2010Cancer Research UK PhD Fellowship
2010 Gold Medal in Chemistry, Trinity College Dublin