Istvan Molnar, PhD

Associate Professor, Natural Resources and the Environment
Associate Professor, BIO5 Institute
Associate Professor, Plant Science
Chair, Applied BioSciences - GIDP
Chair, Arid Lands Resources Sciences - GIDP
Phone Number: 
(520) 621-9932
Professional Bio: 

Dr. Istvan Molnar is an Associate Professor at the School of Natural Resources and the Environment, and the associate director of the Natural Products Center. He is a microbial geneticist specializing on the characterization and engineering of secondary metabolite biosynthetic pathways of microorganisms.

He tries to understand the genetic “software” that governs the production of natural products in microorganisms, and to exploit this understanding to re-write this software to produce life-saving drugs and valuable chemicals using the “wetware” of microbial cells. He is using methods of microbial systems biology, synthetic biology, genomics, combinatorial biosynthesis and a dash of natural product chemistry to optimize the production of known natural products, and to produce completely new ones, for the discovery and development of medically useful drugs.

Dr. Molnar has worked in the biotech industry in different countries before joining the University of Arizona in 2004. He is the author of more than 40 publications and holds 10 international patents. His lab has been supported by the Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation.

Dr. Molnar is also the Chair of two Graduate Interdisciplinary Programs: the Arid Lands Resource Sciences GIDP and the Professional Science Masters in Applied Biosciences GIDP.

Research Information

Research Program: 
Therapeutic Development
Research Focus: 

Dr. Molnar's main research interest is the biosynthetic engineering of microorganisms (bacteria, fungi and algae) for pharmaceutical, agricultural, chemical industrial and bioenergy applications and the biosynthesis of small molecule natural products.

  • Secondary metabolite natural product biosynthesis
  • Combinatorial biosynthesis
  • Drug discovery
  • Microbial systems biology
  • Biofuels
  • Metabolic pathway biochemistry and genetics

Academic Information

Post Doctoral: 
Cambridge University, Cambridge, UK
Doctorate: 
Molecular microbiology, Hiroshima University, Higashi-Hiroshima, Japan
Master's Degree: 
MSc, ELTE University, Budapest, Hungary