Robert Kerns, PhD

Contact Information

Office: S321 PHAR 
Phone: 319-335-8800 
Faculty Profile


Brief description of current research:

Dr. Kerns is Head of the Division of Medicinal & Natural Products Chemistry in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences & Experimental Therapeutics, serves on the faculty advisory committee for the University of Iowa High Throughput Screening (HTS) Facility and participates in post-HTS screen Medicinal Chemistry analyses. Dr. Kerns’ research group is involved in numerous interdisciplinary, translational research projects focused on the design and synthesis of novel bioactive small molecules as possible new therapeutic agents. Ongoing projects include optimizing lead structures as chemical probes to validate new drug targets and as potential therapeutics for the treatment of cancer, drug-resistant infectious diseases and neurodegenerative disease. Recently initiated projects with FOEDRC members include design and synthesis of mitochondrial-targeted antioxidant conjugates to evaluate their bioenergetic effects, and from this work to identify novel lead structures for further development as possible new agents for the treatment of diabetes and obesity.

3 most influential diabetes/obesity/metabolism publications:

  • Fink, B. D.; Herlein, J. A.; Yorek, M. A.; Fenner, A. M.; Kerns, R. J.; Sivitz, W. I. Bioenergetic Effects of Mitochondrial-Targeted Coenzyme Q Analogs in Endothelial Cells. J. Pharmacol. Exper. Ther. 2012, 342(3) 709-719.
  • Fink, B.D.; Herlein, J.A.; Guo, D.F.; Kulkarni, C.; Weidemann, B.J.; Yu, L.; Grobe, J.L.; Rahmouni, K.; Kerns, R.J.; and Sivitz, W.I. A Mitochondrial-Targeted Coenzyme Q Analog Prevents Weight Gain and Ameliorates Hepatic Dysfunction in High Fat-Fed Mice. J. Pharmacol. Exper. Ther. 2014 351(3) 699-708.