Dillon P. Cogan completed his B.S. in chemistry at Michigan State University in 2013, where he worked with Prof. Jetze J. Tepe on the synthesis of small-molecule anticancer drugs. During his doctoral studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Cogan trained in enzymology and structural biology under the guidance of Prof. Satish K. Nair. There, he investigated numerous enzymatic reaction mechanisms involved in the biosynthesis of modified peptide natural products.
After obtaining his Ph.D. in biochemistry in 2019, Cogan moved to Stanford University as an NIH postdoctoral fellow to study the mechanisms of polyketide antibiotic biosynthesis by enzymatic assembly lines in the laboratory of Prof. Chaitan Khosla. During his postdoctoral studies, Cogan also collaborated with physician-scientists at Stanford to develop antibody-based imaging probes for cardiac surgeries.
In 2023, Cogan joined USC Mann as an assistant professor in the Department of Pharmacology and Pharmaceutical Sciences. Cogan’s research group combines biochemical and biophysical techniques, including cryogenic electron microscopy and X-ray crystallography, to investigate two prominent types of molecular machines in microbes: (1) multi-enzyme complexes called “polyketide synthases” that biosynthesize medically important small molecules and (2) membrane-bound “two-component” sensors that allow bacteria to adapt in their changing environments. By exploring and engineering their native functions, the Cogan Lab is harnessing these systems to develop sustainable biocatalysts for drug discovery and therapeutic biosensors inspired by natural protein design. At the same time, by studying molecular sensors endogenous to bacteria of the human gut, they are untangling the complex signaling network between a human host and its microbes (the microbiota) to devise new cell-based and molecular therapies that target these systems.