Research Cluster 2

Anti-infective and anti-cancer therapeutic agents from research on transcription response, gene function, and chromosome structure

Investigation of the fundamentals of stress response and genomic stability will be a major focus of the Institute.

Pathogens encounter multiple stress challenges in human hosts, including reactive oxygen species generated by the immune response, and action of antibiotics. Survival and adaptation of the pathogens requires rapid modulation of the genomic transcription profile and acquisition of resistance. Viability and proliferation of cancer cells following radiation and chemotherapy treatment also requires stress response and DNA repair functions. Experimental and computational studies of the biomolecular pathways for the signaling and transcription response can provide not only new mechanistic insights, but also potential targets for development of new therapeutics. Nanotechnology will be utilized for targeted drug delivery to enhance selectivity and overcome resistance.

Faculty Research Cluster 2


Department of Biological Sciences

• Alejandro Barbieri - Endocytosis and Signal transduction. How the small GTP Rab5, is linked to the oncogene Ras, tyrosine receptor kinases and other intracellular signaling molecules.
• Matthew Degennaro - Understanding how mosquitoes sense their human and plant hosts is required for the development of new tools to control harmful mosquito behaviors. Using a molecular genetic approach, we seek to identify the odors and olfactory receptors that are necessary for mosquito host detection.
• Niclas Engene – Marine microbial natural products: multidisciplinary research focused on the biosynthesis and distribution of bioactive secondary metabolites in marine cyanobacteria and other microorganisms. We are interested in elucidating the link between natural products diversity and biological diversity, as well as utilization of molecular-phylogenetic methods for directing and enhancing natural product discovery programs.
• Lidia Kos - Neural Crest Development: Genes mutated in neurocristopathies such as Hirschprung’s Disease and Waardenburg syndrome
• Jessica Liberles – Evolutionary dynamics of protein structure and function. We use computational biology to perform a combination of large scale and applied studies aimed at elucidating how conformational flexibility, post-translational regulation, protein-protein interactions, and signal transduction evolve and its implications in for e.g. virulence and neurodegenerative disease.
• Fernando Noriega - Physiology, biochemistry, molecular biology, genomics and proteomics to study mosquito’s physiological processes such as digestion, activity of the endocrine system and hormonal and nutritional regulation of gene expression.
• Laura Serbus - Host-microbe interactions, focusing on how Wolbachia bacteria interact with and manipulate insect cells at the molecular level.

Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry

• David Chatfield - Work in the Chatfield research group focuses on biomolecular simulation of heme proteins in order to understand, influence and design function.
• Fenfei Leng - Protein-DNA interaction. DNA supercoiling and the coupled reactions
• Yuan Liu - Neurodegenerative diseases, DNA damage and repair, Huntington's disease
• Yuk-Ching Tse-Dinh (Director, IBBS) - The structure and function of DNA topoisomerases as the basis for discovery of antibacterial and anticancer drug leads from synthetic molecules and natural products.
• Stanislaw Wnuk - Organic chemistry of nucleosides and nucleotides with applications in biochemistry and in anticancer and antiviral medicine.


Department of Biomedical Engineering

• Anthony McGoron - Drug delivery and molecular imaging, primarily for cancer, and specifically the development of multimodal targeted drugs that simultaneously image and provide therapy.

Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering

• Sakhrat Khizroev - Physics and Engineering of Nanomagnetics/Spintronics with applications in Medicine and Energy-efficient Information Processing, Nanomedicine, Medical Engineering, Cellular Neuroscience, Cancer Biology, Deep-brain Drug Delivery, Neurodegenerative Diseases (Parkinson’s Disease, Autism, and other dementias), Ophthalmology, Viral and Bacterial Identification/Treatment, Reverse Brain Engineering, Quantum Computing


Department of Cellular Biology and Pharmacology

• Irina Agoulnik - Development of resistance to chemo and hormonal therapies in endocrine cancers.
• Jeremy Chambers - Scaffold proteins are critical components of signal transduction and integration. Scaffolds influence spatial and temporal aspects of signaling by promoting interactions among signaling components, such as kinases. It is the mission of the Chambers lab to understand how these scaffolds and their constituents alter cellular biology in the contexts of aging and human disease.

Department of Human and Molecular Genetics

• Alexander Agoulnik – Reproductive biology and endocrinology, transgenic animal models of human diseases, small molecule modulators of G protein-coupled receptors.
• Kalai Mathee - The molecular mechanisms of Pseudomonas aeruginosa pathogenesis. The significance of research on this organism stems from the fact that chronic bronchopulmonary infection with mucoid (Alg+) strains of P. aeruginosa is the leading cause of mortality in patients suffering from cystic fibrosis (CF).