Please see our Group Website for recent news and publications, research updates, and teaching.
Our research is directed at characterizing structures and biological functions of biogenic small molecules (BSM’s). BSM’s play important roles in most biological processes, and detailed knowledge of their chemical structures and their interactions with other biomolecules is essential for advancing our molecular understanding of life. BSM’s regulate development and immune responses in plants and animals, and serve important functions in interactions of different organisms with each other. As a result, an organism’s metabolome essentially comprises a collection of small molecules with potentially useful affinities for specific molecular targets. Not surprisingly, BSM’s constitute the most important source of lead structures for drug development.
Compared to template-derived biological macromolecules such as proteins and nucleic acids, BSM’s are chemically much more diverse and correspondingly present great analytical challenges. As a result, genomic and proteomic knowledge has not yet been complemented by a comprehensive characterization of structures and functions of metabolomes, presenting one of the most significant barriers toward advancing our understanding of biological pathways.
The Schroeder lab aims to help close this knowledge gap by developing approaches for a more systematic structural and functional characterization of BSM’s. Usually, BSM’s occur as – often minor – components of a more or less complex biological matrix, comprising a large number of BSM’s and other biomolecules. Traditional approaches for the characterization of BSM’s such as HPLC-MS or activity-guided fractionation have distinct disadvantages that severely limit their applicability. Our aims is to develop NMR spectroscopy-based approaches that complement or enhance traditional methodology by enabling detailed characterization of BSM’s in complex biological samples, with regard to both chemical structure and biological function.
Based on NMR-spectroscopic methodology we have engaged in a comprehensive effort to characterize structures and functions of the metabolome (the entirety of all BSM’s) produced by the model organism Caenorhabditis elegans, focusing on several newly discovered compounds that control development, and ultimately lifespan. In addition we have started a project directed at investigating the chemical ecology of microorganisms in search of leads for new antibiotics. Complementing our interests in analytical chemistry, we pursue development of efficient syntheses for newly identified compounds with particular biological significance.
Please visit our research pages for more details!
- Nematodes are tiny, ubiquitous roundworms that infect plant roots, causing more than $100 billion in crop damage worldwide each year. New research has found that plants manipulate the worms’ pheromones to repel infestations, providing insights into how farmers could fight these pests. Led by Boyce Thompson Institute faculty member Frank Schroeder, the group studied a […] Read more »
- People have used aspirin to treat pain, fever and inflammation for more than a century, and the drug is also used to reduce the risk of strokes, heart attacks and some cancers. An estimated 100 billion aspirin tablets are taken worldwide each year, but how it works is still only partially understood. Dan Klessig, a […] Read more »
- We would like to congratulate a pair of BTI faculty members who recently published high-impact research papers in the prestigious research journal Nature. Frank Schroeder and colleagues discovered the first clues on how gut health influences brain health. Published on October 23, the researchers describe new cellular and molecular processes underlying communication between gut microbes […] Read more »
- Every day, people are exposed to myriad chemicals, both natural and synthetic. Some of these compounds may affect human physical development, but testing them directly on people would be grossly unethical. To get around this dilemma, researchers from Boyce Thompson Institute used Caenorhabditis elegans, a soil roundworm, to show that tiny amounts of natural compounds […] Read more »
- Protecting crops from pests and pathogens without using toxic pesticides has been a longtime goal of farmers. Researchers at Boyce Thompson Institute have found that compounds from an unlikely source – microscopic soil roundworms – could achieve this aim. As described in research published in the May 2019 issue of Journal of Phytopathology, these compounds […] Read more »
- We are pleased to announce that seven Boyce Thompson Institute researchers received their PhD degrees during the Cornell University commencement ceremony on May 26. Congratulations to our newest alumni: Mariko Alexander, Heck lab, “Searching for the missing links: Connecting polerovirus structural biology to function” Junsik Choi, Richards lab, “Arabidopsis nuclear lamin protein CRWNs and their […] Read more »
- It is with great enthusiasm and pride that Boyce Thompson Institute (BTI) will recognize the first recipients of BTI’s Alumni Recognition Awards during the 2019 PGS Career Symposium on April 26, 2019. Several highly qualified individuals were nominated for the inaugural awards, and the selection committee underwent considerable deliberation before identifying three early career awardees […] Read more »
- On January 29, 2019, Ascribe Bioscience became the first company based on technology developed at the Boyce Thompson Institute (BTI) to receive a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant. The agbiotech startup will use the $225,000 Phase I award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to develop a seed treatment technology that protects plants from […] Read more »
- Boyce Thompson Institute president, David Stern, has officially announced promotions for faculty members Frank Schroeder and Joyce Van Eck. Both researchers were thoroughly reviewed and evaluated on both their achievements to date and the potential they possess. Read more »
- Cornell will receive close to $9.4 million over five years to establish the Cornell Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Collaborative Research Center, which will span Cornell’s Ithaca campus, Weill Cornell Medicine, Ithaca College, the Boyce Thompson Institute [Schroeder Lab], the Workwell Foundation, EVMED Research, the SOLVE ME/CFS Initiative and private ME/CFS medical practices. Read more »
- The five-year grant is given to innovative, early career scientists to support high-risk research with the potential to make significant contributions to the field. Read more »
- When C. elegans larvae face starvation, they clump together in a mass of worms, which increases their lifespan. BTI researchers will explore this fascinating social behavior. Read more »
- When plants detect pheromones given off by nematode worms, they activate their immune system for protection. The chemical warning not only triggers defenses against nematodes, but also against bacterial, fungal and viral infection. Read more »
- The Boyce Thompson Institute starts off 2015 with a generous gift from the Triad Foundation and researchers are about to open their most exciting present: a high-resolution mass spectrometer. The instrument, which can determine the chemical formula – and possibly even the structure – of unknown molecules, isn’t on everyone’s wish list. But scientists at […] Read more »
- $3 Million cross-cutting interdisciplinary High-Risk, High-Reward research project taps into unexplored source of antimicrobial compounds. Read more »
- Speakers will include Dr. Frank Schroeder, postdocs Daniela Floss and Patricia Manosalva, Dr. Robert Granados and Dr. Maureen Hanson (from Cornell), and discussion of postgraduate training and education with Dr. David Stern and Dr. Eric Richards. Read more »
- Schroeder's lab works to discover new small molecules and identify their structure and function in the context of aging. “We know everything we see will be unknown, pure discovery...It's pretty intense. We get to the bottom of things.” Read more »
- Conventional wisdom holds that genes determine the morphology of animals, but something else iwormmay be at play. Frank Schroeder from the Boyce Thompson Institute at Cornell University and Ralf Sommer from the Max-Planck Institute in Germany now rep. Read more »
- Scientists have discovered that a species of small, transparent roundworms called Caenorhabditis elegans possess a highly-evolved language in which they combine chemical fragments to create precise molecular messages. Read more »
- A group of scientists who set out to study sex pheromones in a tiny worm found that the same family of pheromones also controls a stage in the worms’ life cycle, the long-lived dauer larva. Read more »