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Henry Charlier, Jr., Ph.D.

Associate Professor



Office: SCNC 311

Phone: N/A

Research Interests:

  • Biochemistry
  • Enzymology
  • Protein Chemistry
  • Medicinal Chemistry

About Me

Undergraduate Research Assistant

What am I looking for in an undergraduate research assistant?

What courses would you recommend students have taken prior to working in your laboratory? 

  • I do not require that students have any courses in chemistry to do research in my lab, but it would be helpful if they have taken general chemistry.  Most important to me is that the student has a good work ethic and genuine interest in doing research.  I want to see a “fire-in-the-belly” for trying research.

How many hours per week do you expect a student to spend in the laboratory per research credit and does the time have to be a set schedule?

  • For each research credit for which a student enrolls, there is an expectation of a minimum of 4 hours of work in the lab each week.  

Ideally, for what length of time would a student research in your laboratory to achieve a meaningful research experience?

  • Students should expect to begin with training for the first 4 weeks before they will begin a project of their own. 

Educational Background

Educational Background

1997-2000: Postdoctoral Fellowship Biochemistry | University of Iowa
Subject of study: Kinetic cooperativity of human alcohol dehydrogenase.
Postdoctoral Mentor: Professor Bryce V. Plapp

1991-1996: Ph.D. Biochemistry | Medical College of Wisconsin
Doctoral Dissertation:  Mechanistic Studies of Two Important Biosynthetic Enzymes: Phosphoribulokinase and 3-Hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-CoA Synthase
Doctoral Mentor: Professor Henry M. Miziorko (retired)

1986-1991: B.S. Chemistry and Biology  | University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point

Research Overview

Research Overview

My overall research interests involve the fields of enzymology and protein chemistry. Proteins are very interesting molecules that serve a variety of functions in living organisms. My current research involves studies in three areas as briefly described below:

Carbonyl Reductase – Carbonyl reductase (CR), E.C., catalyzes the NADPH-dependent reduction of a wide range of carbonyls. CR has been connected to several important processes including but not limited to quinone detoxification, neuroprotection, prostaglandin metabolism, and, of clinical interest, anthracycline metabolism. CR reduction of anthracyclines significantly impacts their use in the treatment of cancer as it has been linked to both drug resistance and cardiotoxicity mechanisms. Therefore, inhibition of CR in conjunction with anthracycline therapy offers the potential both to increase the effectiveness of the drugs and to decrease the risk of the associated cardiotoxicity. The major emphasis of this work is to better understand how CR recognizes the molecules to which it binds, be they substrates or inhibitors. Equipped with this information, drugs may be designed to control CR with the intention of reducing the risk of cardiotoxicity during anthracycline cancer treatment. Also, as the role of CR in other pathways is better understood such drugs may be used to treat other diseases as well. Pictured at right: Structure of human carbonyl reductase. From

Alcohol Dehydrogenase – Alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH), E.C., catalyzes the reversible oxidation of ethanol, using NAD as a cofactor. This reaction is a rate-limiting step in alcohol metabolism. ADH may be an important determinant in the development of alcoholism and fetal alcohol syndrome and is therefore widely studied. In addition, it often studied to gain insight into how enzymes catalyze reactions. My research project with ADH focuses on evaluating the contribution of electrostatic interactions in coenzyme binding. In past studies, a lysine at position 228 (K228) has been implicated in controlling, at least in part, coenzyme (NAD+ and NADH) binding. In particular, the positive charge at this position is hypothesized to interact with the negatively charged coenzymes. In order to evaluate the role of charge at position 228, we mutated the lysine at this position to alanine, glutamine, and glutamate, each of which changes the charge at this position. In a past study this lysine was also mutated to arginine, which conserves the positive charge at 228. Currently, all of these mutants are being analyzed for effects on coenzyme binding using steady state and transient kinetics, equilibrium binding studies, and computational chemistry. Pictured at left: Structure of horse liver alcohol dehydrogenase. From

Phosphotriesterase – Phosphotiesterase (PTE), E.C., catalyzes the hydrolysis of synthetic organophosphate triesters and phosphorofluoridates. Compounds in this family include several pesticides and nerve agents. This enzyme has potential use in nerve agent and pesticide decontamination. Work in my lab involves using protein chemistry and genetic engineering techniques to modify this enzyme to enhance its utility in organophosphate compound degradation. Pictured at right: Structure of bacterial phosphotriesterase. From

Funded Projects

STEM Education for All: Building a Vision for Sustaining Innovation and Prosperity.

Period: 9/01/09-8/31/11

Co Principle Investigator

Funding Agency: NSF-MSP Start Partnership

  • The goal of this grant is to collect data from several sources across Idaho to address STEM concerns in the state.

“Biophysical and Biochemical of Protein Structure and Interactions.”

Period:  7/01/05-6/30/07

Project Team Leader


Funding Agency:  Office of Research Administration, Boise State University.

“Structure/function analysis of anthracycline reduction by human carbonyl reductase.”

Period: 7/01/04-6/30/09

Magnet Principle Investigator.

My portion is for about $376,000

Funding Agency: NIH NCRR

This is a subproject of the Idaho-INBRE, NIH/NCRR P20-RR16454.

“Synthesis of doxorubicin C14 benzyl ethers and evaluation as carbonyl reductase substrates and topoisomerase II inhibitors.”

Period: 5/04 – 5/05

Co Principle Investigator


Mountain States Tumor and Medical Research Institute

Teaching Philosophy

I believe that students need to take responsibility for their own learning and my role is to be more of a learning coach than a lecturer. I try to provide opportunities for students to experience the material rather than to simply hear a lecture and memorize material. In my experience as a teacher and a student, I have found that if I haven’t developed an understanding of the fundamentals, I never learned the material and have forgotten it. My other belief is that one should work hard and play hard. I always try to build fun into the classroom, while at the same time I work hard to challenge each student and help them to achieve goals that they may not have thought possible.

Courses Taught

Undergraduate Offerings

CHEM 111 – College Chemistry I

CHEM 112 – College Chemistry II

CHEM 350 – Fundamentals of Biochemistry

CHEM 431 – Biochemistry I

CHEM 432 – Biochemistry Laboratory

CHEM 433 – Biochemistry II

CHEM 286/386 – Seminar

CHEM 498 – Senior Seminar

Graduate Offerings

CHEM 500 – Introduction to Chemical Research

BIOCHEM 510 – Advanced Protein Chemistry

BIOCHEM 512 – Intermediary Metabolism

CHEM 597 – Special Topics – Enzyme Kinetics

BMOL 602 – Biomolecules II 

BMOL 605 – Current Scientific Literature

Peer Reviewed Publications

Plapp, B. V., Charlier, H. A., Ramaswamy, S. (2016) “Mechanistic implications from structures of yeast alcohol dehydrogenase complexed with coenzyme and an alcohol.” Archives of Chemistry and Biophysics 591:35-42.

Hilton, M., Gerasimchuk, N., Silchenko, S., Charlier, H. (2013) “Synthesis, Properties and Crystal Structure of the 2,4-Dichlorophenyl-cyanoxime: A Powerful Carbonyl Reductase Inhibitor.” J. Chem. Crystallography 43:157-164.

Berhe S., Slupe A., Luster C., Charlier, Jr., H.A., Warner D.L., Zalkow L.H., Burgess E.M., Enwerem N.M., Bakare O. (2010) Synthesis of 3-[(N-carboalkoxy)ethylamino]-indazole-dione derivatives and their biological activities on human liver carbonyl reductase. Bioorg. Med. Chem. 218(1):134-41.

Cusack, B.J., Gambliel, H., Musser, B., Hadjokas, N., Shadle, S., Charlier, H., Olson, R.D. (2006) “Prevention of Chronic Anthracycline Cardiotoxicity in the Adult and Aged Fischer 344 Rat by Dexrazoxane and Effects on Iron Metabolism”. Cancer Chemotherapy and Pharmacology 58(4),  517-526.

Slupe, A., Williams, B., Larson, C., Lee, L.M., Primbs, T., Bruesch, A.J., Bjorklund, C., Warner, D.L., Peloquin, J., Shadle, S.E., Gambliel, H.A., Cusack, B.J., Olson, R.D., and Charlier, Jr., H.A. (2005)  “Reduction of 13-Deoxydoxorubicin and Daunorubicinol Anthraquinones by Human Carbonyl Reductase.” Cardiovascular Toxicology 5(4), 365-376.


Charlier, H. A. (2007) “Antitumor compositions containing anthracyclines and inhibitors of carbonyl reductase for reducing the cardiotoxicity of anthracyclines.” U.S. Pat. Appl. Publ., US 20070225238 A1 20070927.

Charlier, H. A., and Gerasimchuck, N. (2010) “Cyanooxime inhibitors of carbonyl reductase and methods of using said inhibitors in treatments involving anthracyclines.” US 7,727,967 B2

Charlier, H. A., and Ewing, C. (2010) “Biphenyl inhibitors of carbonyl reductase.” US 7,781,412 B2

Yu, G., Brown, E., Charlier, H. A. (2010) “Identifying and counting proteins in a sample.” U.S. Pat. Appl. Publ., US 20100062538 A1 20100311


I am an avid fisherman. My favorite style of fishing is fly fishing and my most productive fly is a #10 black wooly bugger with brown hackle. It catches everything from trout to bass to bluegill. I love to fish Idaho, Iowa, and Wisconsin. This wooly bugger is effective in each state. I should mention that I also love to fish with muddler minnows. I have used this fly to catch nearly all species of trout and in Wisconsin have caught both smallmouth bass and walleyes.  I even caught a catfish with it.  My other productive flies include the cattertail, stayner ducktail, and stimulator.

As of June 2021, I am the current holder of the Idaho state record carp (34 pounds).  I have been using European methods for targeting carp and this record fish was caught with the following:

  • Pack bait: Panko breadcrumbs, oatmeal, canned cream corn, canned corn, and strawberry Jell-O.
  • Hook bait: Pineapple ice cream flavored boilie. Flavoring was purchased from the Wicked Carp Company.