#2 SIMB Jan 2023. Banquet Speaker – Phillip Crews University of California, Santa Cruz Talk Title: Wines from great vintages to wildfire catastrophes
Merging natural products chemistry fundamentals with sensory evaluations to gain a 21st Century perspective
Phil Crews is a distinguished Professor of Chemistry & Biochemistry at the University of California Santa Cruz, where he has served as a faculty member for decades. His main research focuses have been Marine Bioorganic Chemistry—particularly the pursuit of biosynthetic products from tropical sponges and marine microorganisms—as well as Enology, Wines, and Wine Chemistry. He has received a variety of honors throughout his career, including recognition with a special issue of the Journal of Natural Products and receipt of the 2022 Paul J. Scheuer Award for Marine Natural Products.
His important achievements at UC Santa Cruz include: work on bengamide B, which led to an anti-cancer Phase I clinical trial on a close analog; his longstanding commitment to promote and supply the international use of jasplakinolide as a molecular probe of actin biology; a commitment to promoting continuing study of psymberin, a highly cytotoxic sponge-derived marine natural product, which has attracted a great deal of interest since its isolation because of its unique structure and biosynthetic pathway to its production; and collaborative projects to continue therapeutic development of fijianolide A and mycothiazole isolated from sponges and nudibranchs, the former being a nano-molar cytotoxin and microtubule-binding potential therapeutic that stabilizes microtubules and inhibits cell division similarly to paclitaxel.
Crews also created ACCESS, which introduces community college students from underrepresented backgrounds to research opportunities at UC Santa Cruz, and leads the “UCSC-HBCU Network for Success in the Chemical/Biological Sciences,” a program offering summer research experience at UCSC for HBCU undergraduates.
Crews founded the Pelican Ranch Winery in 1997, where he serves as the Director of Wine Making. He leads production specializing in Burgundian and Rhone style wines from selected coastal vineyards producing up to fifteen wines each vintage from high profile vineyards of the Santa Cruz Mountains and beyond. For several decades Crews has participated in wine education delivering lectures, presenting short courses and workshops, and consulting on wines and wine quality forecasting.