Department of Chemistry
William E. Allen


Office:  SZ 536
Phone:  (252)328-9779

William E. Allen
Associate Professor, Organic Chemistry

American Cancer Society Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Texas at Austin (1996-1997)
Ph.D., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (1995)
B.S., Washington and Lee University (1990)

Synthesis, Bioorganic Chemistry, and Molecular Recognition

Our research is focused on developing new molecules that can promote transport of anions (X-) across cell membranes. The hallmark symptom of cystic fibrosis (CF), thick mucus in the lungs, arises in part from poor regulation of chloride and/or bicarbonate (Cl-/HCO3-) flow through lipid bilayers. In healthy cells, the cystic fibrosis transmembrane regulator protein forms channels in the membrane that allow passage of these anions.In so doing, proper osmotic pressure (and water flow) is maintained, as is the extracellular alkalinity implicated in mucin discharge.We are working to determine if designed systems that don't form channels can facilitate anion flow.If so, they could provide a selective means to reduce mucus build-up outside of CF tissues.



Selected Publications

Chai, H.; Allen, W. E.; Hicks, R. P.  "Synthetic Antimicrobial Peptides Exhibit Two Different Binding Mechanisms to the Lipopolysaccharides Isolated from Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Klebsiella pneumoniae," Int. J. Med. Chem. vol. 2014, Article ID 809283, 2014. doi:10.1155/2014/809283

Chai, H.; Allen, W. E.; Hicks, R. P. "Spectroscopic investigations of the binding mechanisms between antimicrobial peptides and membrane models of Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Klebsiella pneumoniae," Bioorg. Med. Chem. 2014, 22, 4210-4222.

Jessen, D. M.; Wercholuk, A. N.; Xiong, B.; Sargent, A. L.; Allen, W. E."Dimerization and Anion Binding of a Fluorescent Phospholipid Analogue," J. Org. Chem. 2012, 77, 6615-6619.

Jordan, L. M.; Boyle, P. D.; Sargent, A. L.; Allen, W. E. "Binding of Carboxylic Acids by Fluorescent Pyridyl Ureas," J. Org. Chem. 2010, 75, 8450.

Gavette, J. G.; McGrath, J. M.; Spuches, A. M.; Sargent, A. L.; Allen, W. E.  "Fluorous Effects in Amide-Based Receptors for Anions," J. Org. Chem. 2009, 74, 3706.

Gavette, J. G.; Sargent, A. L.; Allen, W. E. "Hydrogen Bonding vs Steric Gearing in a Hexasubstituted Benzene," J. Org. Chem. 2008, 73, 3582.

Barnhill, D. K.; Sargent, A. L.; Allen, W. E. "Participation of Host 'Spacer' Atoms in Carboxylic Acid Binding: Implications for Amino Acid Recognition," Tetrahedron 2005, 65, 8366.

Ma, L.; Morgan, J. C.; Stancill, W. E.; Allen, W. E. "Phosphorylated 1,6-Diphenyl-1,3,5-Hexatriene," Bioorg. Med. Chem. Lett. 2004, 14, 1075.

Sargent, A. L.; Hawkins, I. C.; Allen, W. E.; Liu, H.; Sessler, J. L.; Fowler, C. J. "Global vs. Local Aromaticity in Porphyrinoid Macrocycles: Experimental and Theoretical Study of 'Imidacene,' an Imidazole-Containing Analogue of Porphycene," Chem. Eur. J., 2003, 9, 3065.

Causey, C. P.; Allen, W. E. "Anion Binding by Fluorescent Biimidazole Diamides," J. Org. Chem. 2002, 67, 5963.

Allen, W. E.; Fowler, C. J.; Lynch, V. M.; Sessler, J. L. "Self-Assembled Helices from 2,2´-Biimidazoles," Chem. Eur. J. 2001, 7, 721-729


Research Group for Spring of 2014


(from left to right) Ashley Wercholuk, Amanda Morgan, David Farrell, Ruby Behairy, Jordan Stanley, Ryan Baucom, Carsten Henriksen




Research Group for Spring of 2013

2013 Spring Research Group Allen

(from left to right)  Jenna Thuman, Amanda Morgan, Toby Allen, Ashley Wercholuk, Ruby Behairy, & David Farrell.


Research Group for Spring of 2012


Research Group for Fall of 2010

Allen Research Group 2010

(From left to right): Danielle Jessen, Ashley  Wercholuk, Adam Till, and Ber Xiong


Research Group for Fall 2007


(L to R): Lisa Jordan, Toby Allen, Jesse Gavette, Jackie McGrath, Meghan Wagstaff, and Bryant Pollock