My research is focused on the isolation and structure elucidation of bioactive compounds from marine organisms and specifically from deep-sea hydrothermal vents microorganisms. These organisms live in the most extreme environments on the planet and produce a vast array of, yet unknown, secondary metabolites. The testing of extracts for potential anti-cancer drugs is accomplished by using an exclusive cell-based assay. The assay uses cell lines developed in the laboratory of Dr. Eileen White of the Cancer Institute of New Jersey. The assay is based on the knowledge that an important mechanism of both tumor progression and treatment resistance is achieved by tumor cells through the acquisition of defects in programmed cell death, an essential genetically-controlled cellular process also known as “apoptosis”. Viability is measured on two cell lines, one of which is apoptosis competent (W2), while the other is apoptosis deficient (D3). The rationale for using these two cell lines to identify microbial metabolites with anti-cancer activity is that compounds that promote apoptosis will kill W2 cells, while D3 cells will survive. Hence, if a given natural compound kills W2 cells, but not D3 cells, we consider it an apoptosis inducer and thus a potential tumor suppressor.