Center for Biophysics and Quantitative Biology

Steven C Zimmerman


Discovery of drugs that target DNA and RNA, development of synthetic organic and polymer-based drug and cell delivery agents, and new fluorescent probes

Research Interests

Research Description

We use rational design and computational modeling, combined with biophysical methods to develop small molecules that bind to particular sequences of DNA or RNA that are involved in disease. One effort involves targeting triplet repeats such as CUG which is a toxic form of RNA and implicated in myotonic dystrophy type 1, the most prevalent form of muscular dystrophy. In addition to developing small molecules that are cell permeable and selective inhibitors, we develop new strategies for assembling agents in a site-selective manner. In related work we develop self-assembling small molecules and polymers that can carry drugs and cells to specific targets such as ischemic tissue. These "smart" delivery agents can transport, target, and treat a range of diseases.

In a separate project we are using the tools of organic synthesis to develop novel fluorescent probes that are ultra stable and monovalent for use in a wide range of biophysical studies.


B.S., 1979, University of Wisconsin, Madison
Ph.D., 1983, Columbia University
Postdoc., 1983-85, University of Cambridge, U.K.


Fellow, American Chemical Society
Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science
Arthur C. Cope Scholar Award, American Chemical Society
Buck-Whitney Award, Eastern New York Section of American Chemical Society
Presidential Young Investigator Award, National Science Foundation
Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship
Camille and Henry Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award
Cyanamid Academic Award
Eli Lilly Grantee
American Cancer Society Junior Faculty Award
School of Chemical Sciences Teaching Awards (3 total)