Debbie C. Crans
Department of Chemistry
Colorado State University

Department of Chemistry
Colorado State University
Fort Collins, CO 80523-1872
Ph   970-491-7635
Fax 970-491-1801
Contact by email

My interest in the fundamental chemistry and biochemistry of vanadium and other transition metal ions is fueled by their applications as metals in medicine and their mechanisms of toxicity.  The new compounds my group and I have synthesized include vanadium alkoxides, vanadium-aminoalcohol complexes, vanadium amino acid complexes, peroxovanadium complexes, hydroxylamidovanadium complexes, picolinate, dipicolinate and other related transition metal coordination complexes.  We have been studying the fundamental coordination chemistry of vanadium and other transition metal compound in aqueous solution and other environments that can serve as model systems for what might occur in the varied environments of biological systems, which recently has focused on lipid or model lipid environments.  Studies of lipid systems and microemulsion environments help us understand how drugs and metabolites interact and penetrate lipid interfaces.  Indeed, we often need the solid state structural characterization of both known and our novel compounds as benchmark data for our solution and biological studies.

Debbie and her graduate students, family, and collaborators during ACS in Orlando, April 2019.

The labile nature of many vanadium(V) systems has resulted in our careful solution characterizations of structure, stability and lability.  Our solution studies are carried out using spectroscopic methods: mainly 1D and non-routine 2D NMR spectroscopies, however, EPR, UV-vis, IR spectroscopy and recently magnetic methods are all used in our work.  Our biochemical studies with vanadium can be viewed as studies in the area of trace metal metabolism since we have studied the effects of vanadium compounds on biological systems ranging from the isolated proteins to cell culture to plants to animals.  Our interest in vanadium metabolism has expanded to include phosphorus metabolism as well as analytical methods needed for measurements of metabolites.  Vanadium(V) can act as a metal ion or as a ground state and/or transition state phosphate analogs and have served as an excellent model in many studies, but we do not limit ourselves to vanadium.  Enzyme types of particular interest include phosphatases, kinases and beta polymerase. We also study the interactions of lipids with metal ions in confined spaces and recently have become interested in methods of drug formulation.

Debbie was awarded the CNS Professor Laureate award for the 2015 academic year. Below is the poster for her laureate talk entitled, Heavy Metal: Not Just Another Dance with Vanadium, and a photograph of her presenting the laureate talk in April of 2015. Dean of the CNS Jan Nerger shakes hands with Debbie, after presenting the award.

Crans Flyer_SP2015_Laureate Lecture  20150424_174530  debshakinghands

Debbie_nice_Slide2 copy

Debbie was also recognized as a 2015 Arthur C. Cope Scholar at the 250th National ACS meeting in Boston. This award is given to researchers with outstanding contributions in organic chemistry.  Here she accepting her Cope award with Donna Huryn (past Chair Organic Division) and Paige Mahoney (current Chair Organic Division).


Make sure to check out the other links for all the latest news on publications and accomplishments for all the participants in the lab!