Dr. Yomi Oyelere’s research seeks to understand the molecular basis of human disease conditions, particularly cancer and bacterial infections, to develop new therapeutic solutions based on small-molecule drugs. 

The Oyelere lab is working on targeted cancer therapy compounds that are designed to be highly selective, more effective, and less toxic to surrounding tissues. Their research spans bioorganic chemistry, biochemistry, and drug design. They also conduct interrelated work across RNA small-molecule interaction; targeted inhibition of epigenetic targets, including histone deacetylases (HDAC) and histone lysine demethylases (KDM), to stop cancerous cells from dividing; and design and synthesis of novel bioconjugates for molecular delivery applications.

Driven by the potential therapeutic outcomes of his research, Dr. Oyelere thrives on finding solutions to challenges, such as epigenetically modifying compounds that work on solid tumors rather than only hematological cancers. Researchers in his lab are using bio-inspired approaches that are exploiting both the unique vulnerability of a cancer of interest and the intrinsic tissue or cell-type distribution of template molecules to design a new generation of epigenetic modifiers that have the potential as targeted therapeutic agents for solid tumors.

Another new development in Dr. Oyelere’s lab involves a collaboration with Professor Shafiq Khan’s lab at Clark Atlanta University on compounds that prevent cancer from spreading. These compounds would work in combination with cancer treatments to prevent the cancer from spreading while the medication is being administered.

As a strong believer in getting new compounds out of the lab, Dr. Oyelere founded Sophia Bioscience, Inc., a startup company that is investigating the translational potential of the compounds they are developing. They are currently continuing research with funding from a Phase I Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant and from the Georgia Research Alliance to provide proof of principle for therapeutics for liver, prostate, and breast cancer. A Phase II SBIR application is underway.

While his career was originally focused on organic chemistry, the encouragement of his professors and peers helped him expand into biochemistry and biology. “Working within the intersection of chemistry, biology, and biochemistry is what influences the kind of research that I’m doing now,” said Dr. Oyelere.

Research Goals

  • Extending targeted epigenetic anticancer therapy to solid tumors, including prostate cancer, breast cancer, and liver cancer. 
  • Inhibiting ribosome activity to target cancer cells while introducing less toxicity: Developing a new generation of eukaryotic ribosome-binding compounds with integrated vulnerability that selectively target cancer cells while reducing toxicity introduced to surrounding tissues.
  • Creating compounds that prevent cancer from spreading: Developing an anti-metastasis, anticancer combination treatment.


  • Designing epigenetic modifiers: The Oyelere lab is designing compounds that can selectively perturb the epigenetic landscape within cancer cells by exploiting the unique vulnerabilities of the cancer of interest and/or the intrinsic tissue or cell-type distribution of template molecules. This process creates a generation of epigenetic compounds that selectively accumulates in those cancer cells and/or tissues where the cancer is located in order to selectively and effectively kill the cancer cells. Over the years, the Oyelere lab has used this strategy to discover a cohort of cancer type- or tissue-selective epigenetic modifiers effective against solid tumors, such as breast, liver, and prostate cancers. 
  • Designing small molecules that bind to RNA: Because inhibiting protein synthesis makes cells nonviable, they’re applying a similar idea used in the design of tumor-targeted epigenetic modifiers to design compounds that bind to specific areas of the eukaryotic ribosomes to potentially inhibit cancer growth.
  • Developing a targeted drug delivery platform: They’re designing and synthesizing novel bioconjugates for molecular delivery applications, including new molecular delivery systems for nanoparticles and small-molecule drugs. 


  • National Academy of Inventors Fellow (2022)
  • Co-Editor, Current Topics in Medicinal Chemistry (2021)
  • Editorial Board Member, PeerJ Journal of Life & Environmental Sciences (2020)
  • Editorial Board Member, Cancers, a Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute (MDPI) publication (2020)
  • Editorial Board Member, Molecules, an MDPI publication (2019)
  • Hesburgh Award Teaching Fellow (2018)
  • Outstanding Undergraduate Research Mentor – Senior Faculty Award (2018)
  • Editorial Board Member, Scientific Reports, A Nature Research Journal (2016)
  • Vasser-Woolley Faculty Fellowship (2016)
  • Cullen Peck Fellow (2015)