M. Belen Cassera


Our research focuses on two major areas: 1) functional metabolomics for drug target selection and validation with an emphasis on isoprenoid biosynthesis in the asexual and sexual stages of the malaria parasite, and 2) drug discovery from natural sources such as plants and microbes as well as from synthetic libraries. We use multidisciplinary approaches including biochemistry, cellular and molecular biology to study changes in the metabolism of the malaria parasite throughout its life cycle and to reveal how metabolites are transformed into products through a precise and, sometimes, unique way among organisms that we can later exploit to develop safer treatments.

Recent Publications

  • Jin-Hai Yu, Hua Zhang, Bin Zhou, Flavia M. Zimbres, Seema Dalal, Qun-Fang Liu, Maria B. Cassera, and Jian-Min Yue. Limonoids From Cipadessa baccifera. J Nat Prod. 2020 May 29. doi: 10.1021/acs.jnatprod.9b00666.
  • You Ah Kim, Abdul Latif, Chang-Suk Kong, Youngwan Seo, Seema R Dalal, Maria B Cassera, David G I Kingston. Antimalarial Diterpenoids From Vitex Rotundifolia: Isolation, Structure Elucidation, and in Vitro Antiplasmodial Activity. Bioorg Chem. 2020 May 12;100:103925. doi: 10.1016/j.bioorg.2020.103925.
  • Yongle Du, Brooke A. Martin, Ana Lisa Valenciano, Jason A. Clement, Michael Goetz, Maria B. Cassera, David G. I. Kingston. Galtonosides A-E: Antiproliferative and Antiplasmodial Cholestane Glycosides from Galtonia regalis. J Nat Prod. 2020 Mar 31. doi: 10.1021/acs.jnatprod.9b01064.
  • Yongle Du, Ana Lisa Valenciano, Yumin Dai, Yi Zheng, Feng Zhang, Yan Zhang, Jason Clement, Michael Goetz, David G. I. Kingston, Maria B. Cassera. Anibamine and Its Analogues: Potent Antiplasmodial Agents from Aniba citrifolia. 2019. J Nat Prod. doi: 10.1021/acs.jnatprod.9b00724.
  • Ana Lisa Valenciano, Maria L. Fernández-Murga, Emilio F. Merino, Nicole R. Holderman, Grant J. Butschek, Karl J. Shaffer, Peter C. Tyler & Maria Belen Cassera. Metabolic dependency of chorismate in Plasmodium falciparum suggests an alternative source for the ubiquinone biosynthesis precursor. 2019. Sci Rep.;9(1):13936. doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-50319-5.
  • Jeong H, Latif A, Kong CS, Seo Y, Lee YJ, Dalal SR, Cassera MB, Kingston DGI. Isolation and characterization of antiplasmodial constituents from the marine sponge Coscinoderma sp. Z Naturforsch C. 2019 Aug 6. 74(11-12):313-318. doi: 10.1515/znc-2019-0039.


Researchers received $2M NIH instrumentation grant

Trainee Spotlight: Josh Butler

Visiting Scholar: Elvis Ofori Ameyaw

The Cure for Malaria Could be in Your Backyard

Drug discovery researchers awarded grant to refine malaria drug

M. Belen Cassera
Associate Professor, Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology

A220A Life Sciences Building