Cell membrane mimics as tools for understanding biology, functional studies of membrane proteins, and creating protocell-based devices.
Membranes: The Cellular Interface
Many of life's vital functions take place at cell surfaces and interfaces. Processes such as the creation of energy via metabolism (ATP production, photosynthesis), uptake of nutrients (digestive system, oxygen exchange), communication between cells and organs (signal transduction at synapses), and infection by pathogens (anthrax, influenza, HIV) must all negotiate molecular movement across the cell membrane. Several diseases are a direct result of faulty ion channels and receptors which span cell membranes. Yet despite the dependence of life on these biological boundaries, our understanding of their structure and function is limited by the technology used to study them. Our research focuses on developing model bilayer technologies aimed at accelerating membrane-based research. The project areas below center on simplifying membrane protein characterization, wtih an eye toward creating tools for the study of diseases related to faulty ion channels and transporters.