Barry R. O'Keefe, Ph.D.

Barry R. O'Keefe, Ph.D.
Head, Protein Chemistry and Molecular Biology Section
Chief, Natural Products Branch, Division of Cancer Treatment and Diagnosis, NCI
Senior Scientist

Dr. O’Keefe is an expert in the screening of natural product extracts and the discovery of novel bioactive compounds. He has pioneered the discovery of biotherapeutics from natural products, especially in the area of antiviral proteins. He also specializes in the analysis and exploitation of protein-ligand interactions for both high-throughput screening and compound characterization.

As Director of the Molecular Targets Program and Chief of the Natural Products Branch, Dr. O’Keefe is integral in the NCI’s drug discovery efforts from natural product extracts.

Areas of Expertise

1) natural products, 2) protein chemistry, 3) antiviral proteins, 4) biochemistry, 5) anti-cancer and anti-viral high-throughput screening, 6) drug discovery

Contact Info

Barry R. O'Keefe, Ph.D.
Center for Cancer Research
National Cancer Institute
Building 576, Room 101
Frederick, MD 21702-1201
Ph: 301-846-5332

Our research efforts are generally split into two study areas: 1) cell-free assay development and identification of active compounds from chemical and natural product libraries, and 2) the isolation and characterization of antiviral proteins from natural product extracts. In the first, our goals are to understand and define specific protein-ligand interactions and use that knowledge to adapt laboratory findings into both high-throughput screens and potential therapeutic discoveries. In the second, we carry out independent research on the discovery and characterization of novel antiviral proteins from natural products extracts. This research is necessarily multidisciplinary and collaborative both within the Molecular Targets Program, as well as the NCI, the NIH and with extramural collaborators interested in our scientific discoveries. Our group uses its expertise in protein chemistry, enzymology, molecular biology, natural products research and assay development to identify, isolate and biochemically characterize new bioactive moieties.

Selected Publications

  1. Wilson BAP, Thornburg CC, Henrich CJ, Grkovic T, O'Keefe BR.
    Nat Prod Rep. [Epub ahead of print], 2020. [ Journal Article ]
  2. Matarlo JS, Krumpe LRH, Heinz WF, Oh D, Shenoy SR, Thomas CL, Goncharova EI, Lockett SJ, O'Keefe BR.
    Cell Chem Biol. 26(8): 1133-42, 2019. [ Journal Article ]
  3. Vamvaka E, Farré G, Molinos-Albert LM, Evans A, Canela-Xandri A, Twyman RM, Carrillo J, Ordóñez RA, Shattock RJ, O'Keefe BR, Clotet B, Blanco J, Khush GS, Christou P, Capell T.
    Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 81(8): 1884-91, 2018. [ Journal Article ]
  4. Chau CH, O'Keefe BR, Figg WD.
    Lancet Oncol. 17(3): 286, 2016. [ Journal Article ]
  5. Zlotkowski K, Hewitt WM, Yan P, Bokesch HR, Peach ML, Nicklaus MC, O'Keefe BR, McMahon JB, Gustafson KR, Schneekloth JS Jr.
    Org Lett. 19(7): 1726-29, 2017. [ Journal Article ]

Dr. O'Keefe earned a Bachelor of Science degree in botany from Michigan State University and a Ph.D. in pharmacognosy from the University of Illinois at Chicago. In 1994 Dr. O'Keefe joined the NCI Laboratory of Drug Discovery Research and Development to study novel proteins from natural products extracts. Dr. O'Keefe is currently Director of the Molecular Targets Program and Head of the Protein Chemistry and Molecular Biology Section. Dr. O'Keefe is also Chief of the Natural Products Branch, Developmental Therapeutics Program, Division of Cancer Treatment and Diagnosis, NCI.

Position Degree Required Contact Name E-mail Address
Post-doctoral Fellow - natural products, chemistry Ph.D. or equivalent Tanja Grkovic, Ph.D.
Name Position
Tadeusz Guszczynski Ph.D. Biologist
Lauren R. Haugh Krumpe M.S. Research Associate II (Leidos)
Carter Mitchell Ph.D. Postdoctoral Fellow (CRTA)
Shilpa Shenoy Kurian Ph.D. Scientist II (Leidos)
Brice Wilson Ph.D. Research Fellow