Eric Y. Cheng, PhD


Professor of Pharmaceutical SciencesEric Y. Cheng, Ph.D.


Education & Experience:

I earned my BS, MS and PhD in the fields of microbiology and biochemistry, all with a focus on microbial natural product biosynthesis, discovery and metabolic engineering. In my current position as a tenured professor in pharmaceutical sciences in the HSC College of Pharmacy at UNTHSC and as an adjunct professor in medical education in the TCU and UNTHSC Medical School, I teach PharmD and graduate students, and mentor students in research related to natural product drug discovery and metabolic engineering. I currently serve on multiple committees at the departmental, college/school, and university levels, and on the editorial board of one professional journal. I currently also serve as the director of our college’s Drug Discovery & Development Certificate Program and Professional Science Master’s Program (both programs are under development).

Teaching Areas & Interests:

PHAR 7412 (Biochemistry), PHAR 7234 (Integrated Pharmacotherapy – Derm, E/E/N/T), PHAR 7310 (Comprehensive Review of FDA Approved New Drugs), PHAR 73xx  (Overview of Modern Drug Discovery & Development), IPE (Inter-Professional Education), PSPT 6400  (Principles of Drug Discovery and Development), BMSC 6998 (Individual Research – mentoring PhD-track Grad. Student).

Research Interests:

The overall goal of my research is to discover and develop bioactive natural products from microorganisms as drugs or drug leads for the treatment of cancer, infectious diseases or other human medical conditions. Since graduate school, I have been studying the genetics and biochemistry of microbial production of potent antibiotics or anticancer agents. In recent years, I redefined my lab research to focus on de novo discovery of natural products from underappreciated microbial sources. To this end, my laboratory discovered several potent histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitors and several potent pre-mRNA splicing inhibitors, amongst a few dozens of other natural products. I forged multiple collaborations with external and internal experimental biologists to evaluate selected small molecules at various stages of in vitro and in vivo studies in cell lines and animal models. Those collaborative researches resulted in numerous publications, patent applications and/or issued patents. My research has been supported by NIH grants (R03, R01 and CTSA Pilot Grant through UT-Southwestern Medical Center), a US Department of Defense BCRP Idea Award and a pilot grant from the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, supplemented with institutional funds.

Service Interests:

My current institutional services includes: HSC College of Pharmacy (HSCCOP) By-laws Working Group/Task Force Member (2013, 2019-present); HSCCOP Promotion & Tenure Committee member, 2013–16; 2019-present; HSCCOP Admission Committee member, 2013–16; 2018–present; HSCCOP Admissions Review Team member, 2015-present; BRIT and HSC Collaborative Steering Committee Member, 2019–present; HSC Faculty Grievance & Appeal Committee member, 2019–present; HSCCOP Drug Discovery & Development Task Force Leader & Program Director, 2020–present. I also serve on the Editorial Booad of Journal of Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology (2011-present), as ad hoc manuscript reviewer for many professional journals, as ad hoc grant reviewer for several agencies, and as ad hoc tenure & promotion review for several universities.

Professional Activities & Awards:

I am a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences, the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy, the American Chemical Society, and the Society for Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology. I currently serve on the editorial board of two scientific journals. I have also served as conference session chairs, and as ad-hoc reviewer for many journals and for a few funding agencies. I received a US Department of Defense BCRP Idea Award (2008) and Arthur E. Schwarting Award for the “Journal of Natural Products,” Best Paper of the Year (2013).

Representative Publications:

Wang C, Henkes LM, Doughty LB, He M, Wang D, Meyer-Almes F-J and Cheng Y-Q (2011) Thailandepsins: bacterial products with potent histone deacetylase inhibition activities and broad-spectrum antiproliferative activities. Journal of Natural Products 74:2031-2038.

Wang C, Flemming CJ, and Cheng Y-Q (2012) Discovery and activity profiling of thailandepsins A through F, potent histone deacetylae inhibitors, from Burkholderia thailandensis E264. MedChemComm 3:976-981 (Natural Products themed issue).

Liu X, Biswas S, Berg MG, Antapli CM, Xie F, Wang Q, Tang M-C, Tang G-L, Zhang L, Dreyfuss G and Cheng Y-Q (2013) Genomics-guided discovery of thailanstatins A, B, and C as pre-mRNA splicing inhibitors and antiproliferative agents from Burkholderia thailandensis MSMB43. Journal of Natural Products 76:685-693. (Arthur E. Schwarting Award for the Journal of Natural Products Best Paper of the Year)

Liu X, Zhu H, Biswas S and Cheng Y-Q (2016) Improved production of cytotoxic thailanstatins A and D through metabolic engineering of Burkholderia thailandensis MSMB43 and pilot scale fermentation. Synthetic & Systems Biotechnology 1:34-38.

Liu X, Xie F, Doughty LB, Wang Q, Zhang L, Liu X and Cheng Y-Q. Genomics-guided discovery of a new and significant better source of anticancer natural drug FK228. Synthetic & Systems Biotechnology (in press).

Link to Dr. Cheng’s University Profile