Isabella (Bella) Jacobsen is a postbaccalaureate fellow in the Chemical Genomics Branch (CGB) within NCATS’ Division of Preclinical Innovation. As a chemist in the CGB’s Assay Development and Screening Technology group, she synthesizes analogs of potential drug candidates to increase their potency and cell permeability and elucidate their mechanisms of action.
Jacobsen uses solid-phase peptide synthesis to synthesize analogs of Ce-2, a potent peptide inhibitor of nematode phosphoglycerate mutase, working to increase its cell permeability by drawing inspiration from both micelle nanoparticle and cell-penetrating peptide technology. She also is synthesizing libraries of small molecule analogs to develop the structure-activity relationship of molecules targeting the nonsense-mediated decay and the hedgehog pathways in cells.
Jacobsen earned her Bachelor of Arts in chemistry from Grinnell College in 2021. During her undergraduate career, she studied synthetic chemistry in the laboratory of Stephen R. Sieck, Ph.D., at Grinnell College, where she synthesized analogs of a novel thiol phosphonamidite heterocycle. Subsequently, she synthesized analogs of the natural product fraxinellone in the laboratory of David B.C. Martin, Ph.D., at the University of Iowa, where she probed the mechanism of its neuroprotective effects.
Following her fellowship, Jacobsen plans to attend graduate school to continue studying organic chemistry, chemical biology and drug discovery.