Chemical Tools To Study Molecular-Level Problems in Human Health
We take a multidisciplinary approach to tackle molecular-level problems in human health. We use a rational structure-based design methodology that utilizes computational methods combined with more traditional medicinal chemistry approaches to design small molecule chemical tools to address our hypotheses. We then synthesize these chemical tools and characterize their properties before deploying them in vitro and in living cells using various biochemical, bioanalytical, and molecular biology techniques to study our biological targets. The use of our tools in living cells leads to new understanding of human biology. Additionally, we leverage the knowledge we attain from our studies to improve our chemical tools and/or design new tools to study different molecular-level problems we identify.
Research Area 1: Fluorescent Probes to Interrogate Connections Between Enzymatic Activity and Human Health
Goals: Our group will develop fluorescent chemical tools that report on the activity of specific enzymes and deploy them to determine the role of the enzymes of interest in normal cell processes and in disease states.
Training Opportunities: Students on projects in this research area will gain experience in organic synthesis, molecular docking, fluorescence microscopy and spectroscopy, mammalian cell culture, in addition to various biochemical, molecular biology, bioanalytical, and biophysical approaches.
Impacts: The chemical tools we develop and the molecular-level studies they enable will result in the elucidation of new biological pathways and regulatory mechanisms. These new biological discoveries will be leveraged to identify key players in human diseases leading to the revelation of new therapeutic targets.
Research Area 2: Development of Small Molecule Approaches for Intracellular Compartment Delivery
Goals: Our group will generate new modular chemical methods that can deliver probes and other cargoes to specific subcellular compartments.
Training Opportunities: Students on projects in this area will gain experience in organic synthesis, peptide synthesis, molecular docking, fluorescence microscopy, traditional medicinal chemistry techniques including structure-activity relationships, and mammalian cell culture in addition to various biochemical, molecular biology, bioanalytical, and biophysical approaches.
Impacts: The new versatile and modular subcellular targeting methods we develop will allow for more detailed studies of the role of these organelles in human health. A better understanding of the biology of these organelles paired with our intracellular delivery approaches will allow for the development of improved chemical tools and therapeutics.