Dillon P. Cogan Headshot
Faculty Directory

Dillon Cogan

Dillon Cogan

Assistant Professor of Pharmacology and Pharmaceutical Sciences

Department of Pharmacology and Pharmaceutical Sciences

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 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 bacterial protein machines: (1) multi-enzyme complexes called “polyketide synthases” that biosynthesize medically important small molecules and (2) membrane-bound sensors called “two-component systems” that allow bacteria to adapt in their changing environments. By exploring and engineering their native functions, the Cogan Lab is developing improved biocatalysts and 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.

Areas of Expertise

  • Natural Product Biosynthesis
  • Structural Biology
  • Enzymology
  • Biocatalysis
  • Signal Transduction
  • Biosensors
  • Drug Discovery
  • Antibiotics
  • Protein Engineering
  • Host-Microbe Interactions
  • Human Microbiome
  • Education

    Stanford University

    Postdoctoral Fellow

    University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


    Michigan State University


  • Links
  • Selected Articles

    Structural Insights into Enzymatic [4+2] Aza-Cycloaddition in Thiopeptide Antibiotic Biosynthesis

    Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2017 Dec 5;114(49):12928-12933
    Cogan DP, Hudson GA, Zhang Z, Pogorelov TV, van der Donk WA, Mitchell DA, Nair SK

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    Antibody Probes of Module 1 of the 6-Deoxyerythronolide B Synthase Reveal an Extended Conformation During Ketoreduction

    J Am Chem Soc. 2020 Aug 10;142(35):14933-14939
    Cogan DP, Li X, Sevillano N, Mathews II, Matsui T, Craik CS, Khosla C

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    Structural Basis for the Enzymatic Off-Loading of Hybrid Polyketides by Dieckmann Condensation

    ACS Chem Biol. 2020 Oct 16;15(10):2783-2791
    Cogan DP, Ly J, Nair SK

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    Mapping the Catalytic Conformations of an Assembly-line Polyketide Synthase Module

    Science. 2021 Nov 5;374(6568):729-734
    Cogan DP, Zhang K, Li X, Li S, Pintilie GD, Roh S-H, Craik CS, Chiu W, Khosla C

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    Structure and Mechanism of Iterative Amide N-Methylation in the Biosynthesis of Channel-forming Peptide Cytotoxins

    Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2022 Mar 29;119(13):e2116578119
    Cogan DP, Bhushan A, Reyes R, Zhu L, Piel J, Nair SK

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  • Accomplishments

    NIH F32 Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award Postdoctoral Fellowship

  • Research Grants

    Mechanistic Studies of Polyketide Synthases Enabled by Unnatural Amino Acids and Antibody Fragment Structural Tools

    NIH/NIGMS, 20200801