A Potential Medical Breakthrough: Liberian Professor Earns US Patent for New Class of Synthetic Antibiotics


New York – Dr. Francine Morris, an Assistant Professor of Biology at Concordia College, Bronxville, New York has received a US patent for a potential new class of synthetic antibiotics.

Dr. Morris’ research training has been focused on the discovery of novel antimicrobial treatment strategies. Her graduate work focused on the inhibition of certain enzymes as potential drug targets. New class of synthetic antibiotics may one day be a reality due to Dr. Morris’ research.

Per Concordia College – According to the World Health Organization, a growing number of infections are becoming harder to treat as bacteria change in response to antibiotics. As new resistance mechanisms emerge and spread, antibiotics are becoming increasingly ineffective, creating a daunting challenge to global health, food security, and development.

“I hope that someone will pick up on the idea. When it comes to microbes, it’s more their world than ours.”

– Dr. Francine Morris

Dr. Morris (along with Dr. Caren L. Freel Meyers) developed the patented strategy while working on her Ph.D. Her research demonstrated that it is possible to effectively target a particular protein within a microbe (bacteria are a type of microbe.) Scientists had previously underestimated the potential of the protein upon which she focused her research.

The implication for antibiotic development is profound. Using Dr. Morris’s patented design strategy (Aromatic Acylphosphonates as Selective Inhibitors of DXP Synthase), an entirely new class of antibiotic could be developed, buying a much longer time frame before bacteria develop resistance to it.

Dr. Morris said: “I hope that someone will pick up on the idea. When it comes to microbes, it’s more their world than ours.”

Dr. Morris earned her Ph.D. in Chemical Biology at Johns Hopkins University. She also holds a master’s degree in Chemistry from Emory University, and a bachelor’s degree in Chemistry, cum laude, from Bryn Mawr College. She completed her postdoctoral work at Albert Einstein College, Bronx, New York as an IRACDA fellow.

She has performed research at Albert Einstein and other institutions, received several fellowships and awards, and has contributed work to various scientific publications and presentations. Dr. Morris’s goal in teaching is to make the sciences accessible to all students, perhaps inspiring them to join the field.

Her interest in teaching was developed as an undergraduate student. Her experience at Bryn Mawr College initiated a deep desire to teach at a small liberal arts college.

Dr. Morris is interested in both science education pedagogy and biochemistry research. In her classrooms at Concordia College, she is exploring how current technologies as well as active learning strategies can be used to enhance students educational experience.

Dr. Morris is the daughter of Dr Richard Morris, who served the Liberian Government as Principal Deputy Minister of Commerce, Industry and Transportation from 1971 to 1975. Morris became the first director general of National Social Security and Welfare Corporation, 1976 until the 1980 coup.