Dr. LaBarbera’s laboratory is engaged in multidisciplinary cancer drug discovery and development, including high-throughput and high-content screening (HTS/HCS); drug design and medicinal chemistry; cancer biology and lead drug mechanism of action determination, and in vitro and in vivo pharmacology. His research program has been continually funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Department of Defense Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program (CDMRP), the State of Colorado, and other significant foundation grants.
Dr. LaBarbera is the founding Director of the Center for Drug Discovery (CDD) established in 2020. The mission of the CDD is to lead a Colorado-wide drug discovery “grassroots” initiative based at CU AMC while encompassing other academic institutions and industries in Colorado. The CDD’s objectives are to facilitate drug discovery and development and become a central hub for drug discovery in Colorado. A major research goal of the CDD is to harness the diverse biology and disease models at CU AMC and throughout Colorado for HTS/HCS drug discovery. Recent funding of the CDD has led to the comprehensive drug discovery and development shared resource (D3SR) that is affiliated with the CDD and the CU Cancer Center. The D3SR features new custom equipment from PerkinElmer, including an Explorer G3 Workstation, Opera Phenix Plus HCS system, a Janus G3, EnVision multimode plate reader, and a custom BioSpot (Tek-Matic/BioFluidix).
Dr. LaBarbera received his BS degree in biochemistry from Arizona State University (ASU) where he conducted research in the area of cancer drug discovery and medicinal chemistry that was funded by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. He continued his education at ASU as a medicinal chemistry PhD graduate student with Professor Edward B. Skibo focused on the synthesis and mechanistic studies of antitumor agents from nature. Dr. LaBarbera completed a postdoctoral fellowship with Professor Chris M. Ireland at the University of Utah and the Huntsman Cancer Institute focused on marine natural products drug discovery and multidisciplinary cancer research, receiving a National Research Service Award from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) National Cancer Institute (NCI).