Assistant Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics
Areas of Expertise: Biochemistry, molecular biology and biophysics
Our laboratory uses methods in molecular biology and biophysics to study structure, function, and properties of pokeweed antiviral protein (PAP) isolated from Phytolacca americana. Specific projects interests include: Agricultural epidemics can have disastrous effects on nation’s health via crop yield and safety and on its economy through costs of containment and eradication, reduced domestic demand, and global embargoes. A better understanding of the activities of PAP, e. g., how PAP selects its target RNAs for depurination, could help in devising ways to control pathogenic epidemics in plants.
Experimental cancer chemotherapy uses plant toxins coupled to a cancer marker recognition antibody to specifically deliver the toxin to the cancer cells. Side-effects of the toxin molecules remaining in the circulation or released from lysed cancer cells may be eliminated by using liposomal drug delivery and effective RIP inhibitors. PAP encapsulated into a lipid vehicle is being investigated as an anticancer agent, and the toxin delivery is tested for efficiency.
Students in this laboratory can receive training in enzymology, biophysical methods of analysis of protein-protein and protein-nucleic acid interactions, protein expression and purification. Active collaborations occur with laboratories specializing in NMR, X-ray crystallography, mass spectrometry, synthetic organic chemistry, phytopathology, virology, cancer and medicine.
I prefer using integrations of several mentoring styles: “Prescribing” (for complicated problems I provide solutions to my students for they might not have a good overview in those cases; from my experience I feel entitled to indicate how problems can be solved in the most efficient way; I often insist that students follow my advice; because of my expertise and experience I can point at solutions in an effective way, etc.), followed by “Advisory” and “Cooperative” styles of mentoring.