The Natural Products Support Group is comprised of several laboratories responsible for various natural product-based support activities including the extraction of plant, microbial, and marine biota for the Natural Products Repository; pre-fractionation of natural product extracts for modern screening technologies; isolation and identification of biologically active natural products for downstream development efforts; and in vitro drug preparations.

We support the National Cancer Institute’s Natural Products Branch and house a growing collection of more than 200,000 extracts from plants, microbes, algae, and marine invertebrates from 25 countries for the National Products Repository.

Natural products for drug discovery

Our team aims to reinvigorate the study of natural products for drug development. We work with the NCI Program for Natural Products Discovery to generate more than 1 million partially purified natural product fractions to be sent to screening centers around the globe. Using automated, high-throughput chemical techniques, our chemists and researchers rapidly identify and isolate active compounds for follow-up studies.  

Collaboration Opportunities

Access to and requests regarding the Natural Products Repository and Prefractionated Natural Products Library are granted through the National Cancer Institute. Access is subject to meeting specific conditions and signing a Material Transfer Agreement protecting the rights of all parties.

Contact with questions.

Technician scanning natural product samples
Researcher Resource

Access the Natural Products Repository

Requests regarding access to the repository are made to the National Cancer Institute. This is considered a national resource and is available to researchers through Material Transfer Agreements.

Enhancing natural product extraction, screening 

We designed a highly automated platform to generate a library of natural product fractions in collaboration with NCI’s Natural Products Branch. This process made the extract library more amenable to modern screening technologies, greatly enhancing the search for active natural products.

Integrated automation platform

A centralized robotic arm transfers tubes to and from an automated capper/decapper and weighing station, sample hotels, and a sample storage system.

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  • Automated loading of 2D-barcoded tubes

  • Four-axis robotic arm

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Automated fractionation

Natural product extracts are prefractionated: two robotic arms work in parallel to produce seven fractions per extract using a water and methanol gradient of decreasing polarity. 

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  • Customized positive-pressure, solid-phase extraction workstation

  • 88 natural product extracts: 616 fractions in 3.5 hours

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High-capacity centrifugal evaporation

We utilize high-capacity centrifugal evaporation systems to dry fractions. The final mass of each fraction is determined using an automated weighing station.

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  • 2,304 fractions in 18 hours

  • Fraction mass determination

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High-performance liquid chromatography purification

Our high-performance liquid chromatography purification systems support isolation and resupply efforts. Active fractions are further separated on a Gilson purification system. If four samples are collected per plate, 44 samples, or 840 assay-ready sub-fractions, are ready within 13 hours.

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  • Gilson purification system with GX-281 liquid handler, 322-binary pump, and 172-photodiode array detector 

  • Bed capacity of 12 x 96-well plates 

Two-dimensional nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy image

Chemistry Laboratory

Our Chemistry Laboratory isolates and identifies biologically active small molecules. We perform scale-up isolations of natural products in support of further functional studies.
Drug Processing Laboratory staff member working at bench

Drug Processing Laboratory

Our Drug Processing Laboratory solubilizes, plates, and delivers drugs for testing against the NCI-60 cell lines panel and other in-vitro screens. We generate 384-well plates of semi-purified natural product fractions and synthetic compounds for high-throughput screens.
Close-up image of a plate

Microbial Metabolites Laboratory

The Microbial Metabolites Laboratory performs small- and large-scale fermentations of microbial organisms. We optimize the production of bioactive metabolites from microbial sources. Our laboratory performs microbial identification using 16S and ITS sequencing.
Natural products repository

Automation Laboratory

The Automation Laboratory performs prefractionation of plant, marine, and microbial extracts. We plate the samples in 96- and 384-well plate formats suitable for biological testing.
Detailed image of percolation tests

Extraction Laboratory

The Extraction Laboratory processes crude natural products to produce plant, marine, and microbial extracts.