New Methods for Investigating Protein Amyloid Formation, Protein Therapeutics, and Nanomaterials in Biology

My research program is at the interfaces of analytical, biological, and materials chemistry. The focus of our work is the development of new measurement tools, based mostly on mass spectrometry (MS), to address important biochemical problems that are currently difficult to tackle by existing methods. Ultimately, the tools we develop are a means to an end as we are interested in applying our methods to gain insight into some compelling problems. We are particularly interested in protein chemistry as proteins are essential players in most biological processes and unraveling their behavior (or misbehavior) is important for understanding the molecular basis of life and of a variety of diseases. We are also interested in detecting and using nanomaterials to better diagnose and treat disease. Currently, my research group is actively involved in four areas.

(1) Amyloid formation by β-2-microglobulin: We are developing and applying new MS-based tools to better understand protein amyloid formation and are investigating means to inhibit the amyloid formation of β-microglobulin.

(2) Assessing the higher order structure of protein therapeutics: We are creating a new technology based on covalent labeling and MS to more quickly and sensitively assess the structural integrity of protein therapeutics.

(3) Imaging nanomaterial distributions and effects in vivo: We are investigating new approaches to track nanomaterials in complex environmental and biological systems so that we can understand the properties that control nanoparticle bioavailability, biodistributions, and stability in vivo.

(4) Self-assembling amphiphilic nanomaterials for biomarker detection: We are studying the structure-property relationships of self-assembling amphiphilic nanomaterials that can selectively enrich peptides and proteins and enhance the MS detection of these biomolecules.