Pieter Dorrestein: Small molecules, big goals

Credit: © Max Dolberg" /> Credit: © Max Dolberg Pieter Dorrestein went to Northern Arizona University primarily for the rocks. The rocky landscape made it the obvious choice for an aspiring geologist, and the rock climbing was just as appealing. In 1997, as a sophomore, Dorrestein heard that chemist John MacDonald was looking for a climbing partner. Once they'd paired up, the two hit it off and Dorrestein became fascinated with MacDonald's work in molecula

Andrea Gawrylewski
Aug 1, 2008
<figcaption> Credit: © Max Dolberg</figcaption>
Credit: © Max Dolberg

Pieter Dorrestein went to Northern Arizona University primarily for the rocks. The rocky landscape made it the obvious choice for an aspiring geologist, and the rock climbing was just as appealing. In 1997, as a sophomore, Dorrestein heard that chemist John MacDonald was looking for a climbing partner. Once they'd paired up, the two hit it off and Dorrestein became fascinated with MacDonald's work in molecular crystal structure. He joined MacDonald's lab that same year.

I got so fascinated by these large molecular structures — not just small molecule crystallography, but large molecule crystallography," Dorrestein says. "So I started reading papers on crystal structure."

In 1998, Dorrestein began graduate work at Cornell University, with the intention of building small molecules that interact with proteins. However, he soon switched into Tadhg Begley's lab, which was concentrating on vitamin biosynthesis â?? a process that also involves small molecular...