Research

My research group is broadly interested in biomolecular interactions. I have two major projects: development of novel cell-penetrating peptides for delivery of biomolecular cargos to living cells for therapeutic and research purposes and understanding assembly of the bacterial flagellum. We are also engaged in many collaborative projects in which we can bring our optical biosensing and other kinetic expertise to bear on a variety of research questions. See publications for details; I don't know why but KSU's library folks love it when you use my Digital Commons page.

1. Cell-penetrating peptide adaptors Wish we could tell you what this is!

Cell-penetrating peptides (CPPs) confer the ability of molecules to which they are attached the ability to enter cells rapidly and without discernible toxicity. They have been used to deliver proteins and other 'cargo' molecules to cells for years, but have many drawbacks as therapeutic vehicles, principally the so-called 'endosomal escape problem' - they succeed in penetrating the cell by endocytosis but get hung up in the endosomes. We have a really cool solution to this problem and are actively developing applications and engineering better CPPs. Check out our hot new open-access paper here (download early and often!)

This work is currently funded by an NIH AREA grant and I'm looking for student researchers to participate.

2. Assembly of the bacterial flagellum

I have a longstanding interest in the molecular dynamics involved in the assembly of the bacterial flagellum. Flagellar assembly involves a protein secretion process very similar to the bacterial virulence factor secretion mechanisms that result in diseases such as gastroenteritis. We primarily work with the common pathogens Salmonella enterica and Helicobacter pylori. This project provides excellent opportunities for ambitious graduate or medical school bound student researchers to gain experience with biochemical and microbiology techniques while working in a biomedically relevant area. 

This work is funded by an NSF RUI grant and I would love to have a microbiology-interested research student.

3. Biosensor applications

I am also interested in broad applications of biosensor technologies. My lab has two optical biosensing platforms: a ForteBio biolayer interferometer and a Biacore X100 SPR sensor. Both are capable of analyzing biomolecular interactions in real-time. We also have a TA Instruments NanoITC. We are actively pursuing several avenues including quantitation of small molecules in complex solutions and have collaborative projects with investigators at KSU and other institutions around the world.

If you have a binding problem... if no one else can help... and if you can find me... maybe you can hire... me. (Just kidding! Despite many youthful fantasies, I've never actually been part of the A-Team.) My team collaborates on numerous projects in exchange for nothing more than a small share of the fame, the thrill of discovery and just because we like doing it. Please contact me to discuss your biosensing project.

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