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Research in our laboratory has focused on developing chemotherapeutic interventions for viral infection and cancer metastasis. While these two diseases are fundamentally distinct, both have been addressed using three chemical strategies: 1) the development of small molecule inhibitors of critical pathogenic pathways, 2) synthesis of chemically defined macromolecules as vaccine candidates and, 3) the synthesis of immunogenic glycolipids to enhance the effects of chemotherapeutics. Our studies with immune stimulating molecules have revealed an exchange of carbohydrates and lipids occurring between humans and associated microbes such as Helicobacter pylori.  Chemical measurements and analyses have led to the new understanding that microbes acquire sugars, phospholipids and cholesterol from the host, and then assemble these chemical building blocks into various forms of glycolipids that are transferred back to the host to allow symbiotic relationships to form. More recently, we have extended the chemical analysis of host/microbe studies to the plant kingdom and in particular Camellia sinensis, the plant from which tea beverages are extracted.   In studying plant-biotic interactions, we seek to discover the underlying chemistry of symbiotic relationships that promote sustainable growth and production of tea. 


Group News

  • Congratulations to Dr. Bao Vue on achieving her Ph. D. 2024
  • Congratulations to Dr. Matthew Orellana on achieving his Ph.D. 2024
  • Congratulations to Lauren Leyva on achieving her B.S. degree 2024
  • Congratulations to Bao Vue, Appointed Assistant Professor of Chemistry, Bakersfield College, 2023.
  • Congratulations to Justin Medrano on achieving his B.S. degree in Chemistry with highest honors! 2023.
  • Masters student Jonathan Hsu, successfully completed his degree and will be joining Gilead Sciences Process group in June 2021. His M.S. thesis title is: “Design and Synthesis of “Click” Azido-Lipid/Glycolipid Probes”
  • Congratulations to visiting scientist Natalia Fernandes, who earned her Ph.D. in May 2021 from Universidade Federal De Lavras. The title of her dissertation is “Gene expression of the yeast Wickernhamomyes anomalus CCMA 0358 during biosurfactant production using kitchen waste oil as substrate and identification of bacteria present in tea tissue culture (Camellia sinensis) through metagenomics analysis.”
  • We were successful in obtaining funding from the Academic Senate to support new tea studies, special thanks to Ming and her TEAm for making this possible!
  • Ami Rose presented her research at the Chemical Biology Innovators Group (CBIG) Spring 2021, she’s becoming a synthetic chemist with the preparation of silylated polyols!
  • Ming Kwong successfully competed for The Green Initiative Funds (TGIF) to support her tea studies – great accomplishment!
  • Congratulations to Ming Kwong on receiving the Food Science Graduate Group Fellowship!
  • Welcome Octavio Sousa as a visiting scholar from Federal Universidade De Lavras, great to have you on the TEAm!
  • Mathew Orellana presented his research in a departmental seminar Winter 2021, Congratulations!
  • Congratulation to Ming Kwong who advanced to candidacy Fall 2020!
  • Ami Rose presented her 3rd year Graduate seminar to the department March 13, 2020 – first cohort of Zoom presentations due to pandemic. Great job chasing down adversity!
  • Congratulations to Matthew Orellana who advanced to candidacy Spring 2020!
  • We congratulate Crystal Ye on beginning her career at Genentech summer 2019.  She joins former group members Dr. Ivy Kekessie and Dr. Huy Nguyen in Discovery Chemistry.
  • We welcome Jonathan Hsu to the Pharmaceutical Chemistry MS Program!
  • Graduate Student Ami Rose passed her Qualifying Examination, officially passing into candidacy. Congratulations!
  • Dr. Gervay-Hague’s research was recently highlighted in a Nature featured article. The article can be found on the Tea News page of this website.
  • Graduate student Crystal Ye was one of the four student speakers selected to present at the 2018 Global Tea Initiative Symposium. Her talk focused on how natural products chemistry can shed light on the study of tea in the 21st century.
  • A pact for tea research between UC Davis and the Tea Research Association in Tocklai has been signed to promote research on agronomy including mechanization and biochemistry.
  • Dr. Gervay-Hague goes to discuss the “The Science of Tea” on Capital Public Radio, Insight with Beth Ruyak.
  • ABC7 News features a news story on tea at KARE: “50-Year-Old Research Project May Spark Tea Growing Industry in Central Valley
  • Dr. Gervay-Hague is featured in a blog post titled: “New Life for Tea in San Joaquin Valley” from UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

See how our alumni are doing at our Group Alumni News page.



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