Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Natural products

Beyond grind and find

Chemists are able to synthesize, and deduce the structure of, ever more complex molecules produced by nature, but what does the future hold for this venerable field, and what are the new challenges?

Your institute does not have access to this article

Access options

Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.

Figure 1: Sources of bioactive natural products past, present and future.


  1. Clardy, J. & Walsh, C. Nature 432, 829–837 (2004).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Oliynyk, M. et al. Nature Biotechnol. 25, 447–453 (2007).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Omura, S. et al. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 98, 12215–12220 (2001).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Keiser, M. J. et al. Nature Biotechnol. 25, 197–206 (2007).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Schmidt, E. W. Nature Chem. Biol. 4, 466–473 (2008).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Yu, M. J., Kishi, Y. & Littlefield, B. A. in Anticancer Agents from Natural Products (eds Cragg, G. M., Kingston, D. G. I. & Newman, D. J.) 241–265 (CRC Press LLC, 2005).

    Google Scholar 

  7. Lamb, S. S. & Wright, G. D. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 102, 519–520 (2005).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Lewis, C. A. & Miller, S. J. Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 45, 5616–5619 (2006).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Keasling, J. D. ACS Chem. Biol. 3, 64–76 (2008).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Peddibhotla, S., Dang, Y., Liu, J. O. & Romo, D. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 129, 12222–12231 (2007).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Kim, J., Ashenhurst, J. A. & Movassaghi, M. Science 324, 238–241 (2009).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  12. MacMillan, K. S. & Boger, D. L. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 130, 16521–16523 (2008).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Scott J. Miller or Jon Clardy.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Miller, S., Clardy, J. Beyond grind and find. Nature Chem 1, 261–263 (2009).

Download citation

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:

Further reading


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing