Daniel Kohl’s research in drug discovery and design is a testament to passion, perseverance and the power of innovation.
One thing is clear: Daniel Kohl is more than just another student. With a diverse background that spans quantum mechanics, pharmaceutical research and hands-on patient care, he embodies the spirit of innovation and dedication. His journey in pharmacy and research has been remarkable, with a set of small molecule drug entities in the patenting process.
A pharmacy student with a penchant for pushing boundaries, Daniel became interested in computational chemistry for pharmaceutical development during an undergrad physical chemistry class. Later, a conversation with Jeffrey North, PhD, associate professor and vice chair of Pharmacy Sciences, led him to the dual degree program at Creighton to focus on medicinal chemistry.
“Dr. North is one of the primary reasons I decided to do the dual degree program,” Kohl shared. “He facilitated my development as a researcher and gave me the creative freedom to think boldly.”
Daniel’s research focus has been developing novel agents that would treat tuberculosis. While existing treatments offer some respite, they come with challenges, from lengthy treatment durations, toxicity and the continued rise of drug-resistance. His goal was to pioneer antimicrobial agents that were potent and long-lasting and had minimal side effects. The journey wasn’t without its hurdles. From facing research challenges to navigating the intricate maze of pharmaceutical development, Daniel’s path was a struggle.
“I don’t think I got anything to work for a year and a half. The issues I dealt with are some of the most challenging problems in the world that even seasoned pharmaceutical companies have struggled with, and some may be unsolvable in my lifetime. I wanted to be a part of something bigger and learn how to solve these seemingly impossible problems. And to be in a place like Creighton that gave me the creative freedom to do that is unprecedented.”
Dr. North says, “Daniel is one of the most passionate scientists I have ever had the pleasure to work with. His research efforts have led to an exciting and novel series of anti-tuberculosis agents with high translational potential in the clinic.” He adds, “He is an extremely hard-working student and would often leave me wondering when he finds time to sleep.”
His persistence paid off. He credits the compassion and support he had from Dr. North and his PharmD advisors, Kimberly Galt, BS, PharmD, PhD, NAP, FASHP, who has since retired and Kevin Fuji, PharmD, MA, associate professor of Pharmacy. “They just let the sky be the ceiling for me and just kind of let me see what I could do,” he said.
Daniel is a pharmacy intern at HyVee Pharmacy and is pursuing his clinical rotations. The experience gives him a unique perspective by putting him on the front line of healthcare. He values patient interaction and the instant gratification of helping people understand their medications, which gave him insight into the real-world implications of pharmaceutical research.
He’s unsure where the future will take him but has a passion for combatting infectious diseases. He is considering various paths, including PhD programs that allow pharmacy students to practice or work at a university health system where he can practice and conduct research.
The only limit is Daniel's imagination.