Carston R. Wagner, PhD

Carston R. Wagner

Department of Medicinal Chemistry
2231 6th St SE
2-220 CCRB
Minneapolis, MN 55455
United States

Wagner Research Lab

The Wagner Lab seeks to apply the principles of organic chemistry, enzymology analytical chemistry, molecular & cellular biology, biophysics and nanotechnology to the development of new methods for drug design and delivery, chemically engineered cellular therapies and tissue engineering. The laboratories primary therapeutic focus has been on the development of new anti-cancer and antiviral therapies, as well as novel non-opioid pain medications. Fundamentally, we are interested in understanding and applying the principles of enzyme catalysis and macromolecular and cellular interactions. Our hope is that by creatively applying our expanding knowledge of these areas, we will continue to impact the design of future more selective and powerful medicines.



Protein design, drug design, Anti-cancer, anti-viral, chemical biology, neuropathic pain


Awards & Recognition

  • 3M University Relations Award, 2002
  • Teacher of the Semester, PharmD II, 1999
  • N.I.H. First Award, 1993
  • N.I.H. National Research Service Award, 1987 – 1990
  • NSF Student Fellow to NATO Advanced Study Institute, 1986
  • Dreyfus Undergraduate Research Scholar, 1980


PostDoc, NIH Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Chemistry, Pennsylvania State University, 1987-1991

PhD, Duke University, 1987

University of North Carolina, 1981

Expand all


Research Summary/Interests

In general the use of anticancer drugs is associated with a variety of toxic side-effects. To tackle this important problem, our laboratory is devoted to the development of approaches that will deliver anticancers drug, proteins and nucleic acids to cancer tissues and not normal tissues. This challenge is being met by exploiting discoveries from our laboratory in prodrug design and nanobiotechnology. The experimental approach taken by our laboratory is highly multidisciplinary, relying on the tools of synthetic chemistry, medicinal chemistry, enzymology, molecular biology, biochemical pharmacology, X-ray crystallography, molecular modeling and spectroscopy to address our goal.


  • Nucleosides with Antiviral and Anticancer Activity, U.S. Patent #6,475,985, issued 11/05/02.
  • Small Molecules for Inhibition of Function and Drug Delivery to Leukocytes, U. S. Patent, #6,881,747 B2; issued 4/19/05.
  • Nucleoside Phosphoramidates and Nucleoside Phosphoramidases, U. S. Patent, #7217523; issued 5/15/07.
  • Protein Nanorings, U. S. Patent (pending).


  • PubMed

    1.Wagner, C. R. A great ride. Mol. Pharm. 2018, 15, 5445.

    2.Sanchez, J. J.; Sanchez, J. E.; Noor, S.; Ruffaner-Hanson, C. D.; Davies, S.; Wagner, C. R.; Jantzie, L. L.; Mellios, N.; Savage, D. D.; Milligan, E. D. Targeting the beta2-integrin LFA-1, reduces adverse neuroimmune actions in neuropathic susceptibility caused by prenatal alcohol exposure. Acta Neuropathol Commun 2019, 7, 54.

    3.Mota, R.; Campen, M. J.; Cuellar, M. E.; Garver, W. S.; Hesterman, J.; Qutaish, M.; Daniels, T.; Nysus, M.; Wagner, C. R.; Norenberg, J. P. (111)In-DANBIRT In vivo molecular imaging of inflammatory cells in atherosclerosis. Contrast Media Mol. Imaging 2018, 2018, 6508724.

    4.Csizmar, C. M.; Petersburg, J. R.; Perry, T. J.; Rozumalski, L.; Hackel, B. J.; Wagner, C. R. Multivalent ligand binding to cell membrane antigens: defining the interplay of affinity, valency, and expression density. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2019, 141, 251-261.

    5.Csizmar, C. M.; Petersburg, J. R.; Wagner, C. R. Programming cell-cell interactions through non-genetic membrane engineering. Cell Chem. Biol. 2018, 25, 931-940.