Assistant Professor of Chemistry
Areas of Expertise: Biochemistry, biophysics, physical chemistry
When I was 17 years old and I was a first year undergraduate student, I became fascinated by chemistry while taking a physical chemistry class. I knew at that time chemistry would become my lifetime occupation. I enjoy the process of solving a chemical problem, experimental or theoretical, and enjoy struggling through it to find a solution.
A substantial number of experimental evidence collected over the last decade, supports the involvement of mitochondria in the key processes associated with cancer such as cellular apoptosis, growth, metabolism and energy supply. Oxidation-reduction reactions occurring in mitochondria and endoplasmic reticulum generate the flow of electrons. Leaking electrons may interfere with surrounding molecules, producing reactive oxygen species (ROS). ROS react with DNA, which results in the formation of covalent modifications on DNA bases. In our lab we study the dynamics of the expression of glycosylases, DNA damage repair proteins, in response to stress. We are also interested in the mechanisms of action of cytochrome c, a protein attached to the inner mitochondrial membrane. It has been known for a long time that this protein participates in electron transfer process, which ultimately leads to the synthesis of ATP. Recently cytochrome c was found to play a significant role in apoptosis. In the last ten years, extensive proteomic analysis has been performed on the mitochondria of various types of cancerous cells. One of the proteins found consistently overexpressed in the mitochondria of cancerous cells as opposed to the normal cells is chaperone HSP60. This protein is located in the mitochondrial matrix and plays a significant role in protein folding, assembly, transport and degradation of damaged proteins as well as in the regulation of apoptosis. The identification of small molecules specifically targeting the interactions of HSP60 with other proteins is one of the
ongoing projects in our lab.