Read about Brian Bachmann, Ph.D., in the January 2011 issue.
Brian Bachmann searches for new medicines in places where few humans have tread—the remote cracks and crevices of Tennessee caves.
He’s combing the mud for organisms that survive in harsh underground conditions by manufacturing new or unusual chemicals. Some of these compounds, called secondary metabolites, also have the power to block inflammation or kill disease-causing bacteria. So far Bachmann’s spelunking adventures have yielded more than 20 potential new drug ingredients, including many that are novel to science.