Vivian Wong

Mentor: Dr. Xin Qi
College of Pharmacy
"I have always been interested in the sciences. When I arrived at the University of Florida, I was impressed by all the engaging research on campus. I actively sought a position in Dr. Xin Qi's lab because of the interesting work we do in the field of medicinal chemistry."


Biochemistry; Anthropology



Research Interests

  • Chemical Synthesis
  • HIV Research
  • Microarray Technology

Academic Awards

  • University Scholars Program
  • HHMI Science for Life
  • International Baccalaureate Diploma


  • Science for Life Gator Student Research Club
  • Gators for Doctors Without Borders


  • Camp Boggy Creek
  • Ronald McDonald House

Hobbies and Interests

  • Internet
  • Piano
  • Kayaking

Research Description

Novel Cyclic Peptoids Targeting HIV TAR RNA to Block Tat Binding

HIV/AIDS currently affects more than 30 million people in the world. With this research, we hope to minimize the harmful effects and work to one day eradicate this malicious disease. Non-coding 7SK snRNA is believed to play an important role in the recruitment of P-TEFb by viral protein Tat to stimulate HIV processive transcription. Steady state fluorescence spectroscopy has been used to probe the conformational landscape of HIV-2 TAR and 7SK-SL4 RNA and monitor the conformational changes upon Tat binding. We demonstrated that as in the case of HIV-1 TAR, both HIV-2 TAR and 7SK-SL4 sample heterogeneous ensembles in the free state and undergo distinct conformational transitions upon Tat binding. Furthermore, cyclic peptide derivatives have been previously reported to target TAR RNA and block Tat binding, exhibiting potential anti-HIV activities. Herein, we designed and synthesized cyclic peptoids to target HIV TAR RNA using both combinatorial chemistry concepts and structure-based ligands design methods. The binding behaviors of our cyclic peptoids can be monitored using steady state fluorescence spectroscopy, a methodology we have already established. Moreover, RNA microarray technology will be employed to further facilitate the screening procedure, leading to the rapid identification and verification of hit compounds.