Date of Award

Summer 7-15-2013

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Dr. Binghe Wang

Second Advisor

Dr. Al Baumstark

Third Advisor

Dr. Giovanni Gadda


Cancer is responsible for one fourth of the total deaths and is the second leading cause of death, behind heart disease, in the United States. However, there are as many approaches to curing cancer as there are types of cancer. One important issue in solid tumors is hypoxia, a lack of oxygen, which promotes angiogenesis and anaerobic metabolism, which can increase cancer progression and metastasis. The HIF transcription factor is responsible for the mediation of many processes involved during hypoxia and is linked to poor patient prognosis, increased cancer progression, and invasiveness of tumors. With this in mind, the HIF pathway has become an attractive target for small molecule inhibition. Herein, we describe the design and synthesis of small molecules that inhibit the HIF pathway. These compounds are based off an initial “hit” compound, KCN-1, from screening of a 10,000 compound library. KCN1 is both highly effective and has a low toxicity profile. Over 200 compounds have been synthesized by the Wang lab, with the best compound IVSR64b having an IC50 of 0.28 μM. Of special interest is that these compounds do not appear to have any inherent toxicity toward healthy tissues, but only affect cancer cells. Moreover, x-ray crystal structures for both KCN-1 and IVSR64b were obtained and used as the basis for computational modeling, which is still in progress.