Focus: to Improve Human Health

Developing a Molecular Understanding of Disease through Organic Synthesis and Chemical Biology 


Focus: to Improve Human Health

Developing a Molecular Understanding of Disease through Organic Synthesis and Chemical Biology 


REsearch interests

Research in the Aldrich lab investigates complex biological phenomena using novel small-molecule probes derived from diversity-oriented synthesis. Our research interests span three major areas of chemical biology:

(1) Development of methods to access natural product-like scaffolds for the determination of chemical features that predict biological performance diversity.

(2) High-Throughput and High-Content Screening to identify small molecules that modulate complex biological pathways.

(3) Exploration of cellular processes that are important in human health using newly discovered small-molecule probes, with the ultimate goal of discovering novel therapeutic strategies for treating diseases.

One particular pathway of interest to our lab is autophagy, an evolutionarily conserved catabolic process critical to cellular homeostasis and innate immunity in which cytosolic content is engulfed in autophagosomes and degraded in lysosomes. Defects in autophagy have been implicated in a number of human diseases, including inflammatory diseases, infectious diseases, neurodegenerative diseases, and cancer. The small-molecule probes developed within our lab will facilitate our exploration of autophagy in the context of these highly diverse diseases.


Leslie Aldrich


Leslie Aldrich


Leslie N. Aldrich



UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS AT CHICAGO                                            

Leslie was born and raised in Alabama where she developed an appreciation for nature and the great outdoors. After graduating from Springville High School (2004) in Springville, AL, Leslie attended Mercer University in Macon, GA where she obtained a Bachelor of Science degree (2008) in chemistry with minors in biology and Spanish. Leslie then moved a little farther north to Nashville, TN to pursue her Ph.D. under the guidance of Prof. Craig Lindsley in the Department of Chemistry at Vanderbilt University. Leslie's thesis focused on the total synthesis of polypyrrole natural products with significant anticancer activity and the development of synthetic methods to rapidly prepare small-molecule antagonists of the M1 muscarinic acetylcholine receptor as a potential treatment for dystonia. After receiving her Ph.D. in 2012, Leslie moved much farther north to Boston, MA for a postdoctoral fellowship with Prof. Stuart Schreiber in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Harvard University and the Center for the Science of Therapeutics at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. During her fellowship, Leslie studied cellular pathways associated with the occurrence of Crohn's disease by patient-based genetics and discovered small molecules derived from diversity-oriented synthesis to probe these pathways, with the aim to ultimately develop novel therapeutic strategies. When she is not in the lab, Leslie enjoys camping and hiking with her husband (Jon), her Pembroke Welsh Corgi (Einstein), and her crazy Cowboy Corgi (Oy). She also enjoys running and reading science fiction novels, although not at the same time so she doesn't break an ankle, again.

leslieportraitjpg (1).jpg

Education and Experience

2012-2015 Postdoctoral Fellow, Harvard University and the Broad Institute (Advisor: Stuart Schreiber) 

2008-2012 Ph.D. Vanderbilt University (Advisor: Craig Lindsley)  

2004-2008 B.S. Mercer University (Advisor: Kevin Bucholtz)                        

Honors and Awards 

P.E.O. Scholar Award (2011-2012) 

Vanderbilt University Warren Fellowship (2008-2010) 

NSF Graduate Fellowship Honorable Mention (2008)

Merck Index Award (2008)

Mercer University Presidential Scholarship (2004-2008)                                                                                                                                                                                                              



Lab Members

The dictionary is the only place where success comes before work --- Mark Twain

Lab Members

The dictionary is the only place where success comes before work --- Mark Twain

The Aldrich Lab





Ivan Pavlinov

Ivan Pavlinov joined the Aldrich lab in the Fall of 2015. Although born in Moscow, Russia, his nasally accent betrays him as a native of southeastern Michigan, where he graduated from Wayne State University with a BS in Chemical Biology. He is a current graduate student interested in utilizing small molecules to interrogate novel disease-related pathways. While not in the lab, he likes to bike, re-read the works of Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams, and watch Bob's Burgers.   




Alara KorkMaz

Melissa Alara Korkmaz joined the Aldrich Lab in Fall 2015 as a graduate student with a focus in both organic chemistry and biochemistry. She graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in Spring 2015 with a BSLAS in Chemistry. Her graduate work involves synthesizing biologically active small molecules and studying their effects in cellular pathways. She was raised in Rockford, IL, but her family came from Turkey, and she is fluent inTurkish. During her free time, Alara loves to spend the day walking around downtown Chicago with her friends and family. 



Erica Gerlach

Erica Gerlach joined the Aldrich Lab in the Fall of 2015.  She was raised in the suburbs of Chicago and completed a B.S. in Chemistry at the University of Illinois at Chicago before starting her graduate work in organic chemistry.  Erica is interested in synthesizing small molecules with unique biological properties.  In her spare time, she enjoys watching movies, camping, hiking, and playing with her dogs, Leeloo and Kya.



MarynA Salkovski

Maryna joined the Aldrich Lab in the Fall of 2016, after graduating from Elmhurst College with a BS in Biochemistry that same year. As a graduate student, she utilizes small molecules to better understand complex cellular pathways. She was born in Ukraine, and although she immigrated to the states at a young age, she never forgot her native language. In her spare time, she likes to learn new languages, listen to music, and spend quality time with her family and friends. 



Daniel Sotelo

Daniel joined the Aldrich lab in the Spring of 2017. After being born here, he was raised in a Mexican ranch in the mountains of Guerrero for the first five years of his life. Being exposed to the beauty of nature at such a youthful age, he has developed a strong respect and admiration of nature. Currently, he is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in chemistry. In the lab, his work focuses on synthesizing complex derivatives of natural molecules in order to test them for beneficial biological activity. When not being a mad scientist, he enjoys spending time in nature, cooking new foods, working out, and reading about spirituality..


Qiwen gao

Bio coming soon.




Yash Mehta

Yash Mehta joined the Aldrich lab in the Spring of 2017. He was born in the U.S.A. but was also raised in India for 2 years. He is currently pursuing a BS in biochemistry and plans to attend medical school after receiving his degree. His favorite mechanism is the epoxide formation with the help of mCPBA. In his free time he enjoys playing sports, learning something new, or hanging out with friends. 

Vincent Parise

Vincent joined the Aldrich lab in Fall of 2017. He was raised in Lemont, IL. He is currently pursuing a degree in Kinesiology with a concentration in Movement Science. In his spare time he likes working out, enjoying the outdoors, and spending time with friends.

Lucas Myint

Bio coming soon.




Michelle Mavlyanova

Bio coming soon.

Previous Members

 Lianyan xu

Travis HelGren

Madeline Krmenec


Undergraduate and Graduate students at UIC. The Aldrich lab is looking for highly motivated students who love the thrill of scientific discovery with interests in organic synthesis, chemical biology, and human health. Please contact Leslie (aldrich@uic.edu) to learn more about current openings and opportunities.

Students and postdoctoral scholars in the Aldrich lab investigate topics at the interface of synthetic chemistry and biology with a focus on human health and disease. The highly interdisciplinary projects in our group enable trainees to develop expertise in synthetic organic chemistry, medicinal chemistry, biochemistry, molecular biology, microbiology, cell biology, and chemical biology.