All of Earth's ecosystems are dependent upon microorganisms. When an ecosystem is healthy, the inhabiting microbes are largely helpful by producing critical nutrients and protecting the host from infection. However, when the health of an ecosystem is compromised due to genetic or environmental factors, some microbes can become pathogenic and cause severe disease. In the Phelan lab, we apply modern mass spectrometry based tools in combination with traditional chemical, molecular and biochemical approaches to investigate the role of small molecules in the development of microbiome communities. It is our goal to characterize the chemical communication between microbial constitutents of complex communities, investigate the role of microbial metabolites in host-microbe interactions and determine how microbes affect efficacy of treatment. Our current focus is unraveling the roles of microbial specialized metabolites in infectious disease with a specific emphasis on the complex pulmonary infections of cystic fibrosis patients. 


The Phelan lab is located at CU Denver on the Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora, CO.  We are part of the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences in Skaggs School of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences.