The goal of this project is to understand the molecular mechanisms involved in the development of diseases such as cancers and diabetes. Protein-lipid interactions are investigated to understand how lipids (i.e. fatty acids) interact biophysically with proteins to modulate signaling and regulatory events. In vitro systems are used to inform on the biophysical interactions which are further validated in cellular systems.
Current delivery systems bring one type of biomolecule, e.g., one protein or one gene, at a time to the targeted site. We are developing platforms to integrate polymers with biomolecules, such as aptamers, to deliver multiple biomolecules to a targeted pathway or site.
Given the complexity of biological networks, knowledge of the properties of individual components in the network are not sufficient to elucidate the cell physiology. Thus systems biology is the study of biology as an integrated system of genes, proteins, metabolites, regulatory (transcription and miRNAs), cellular, and pathway events that are continually changing and inter-related. Diseases can stem from genetic and environmental causes. The ability to study biology as a system rather than one gene or protein at a time has become increasingly amenable with the advent of high throughput technologies. A systems approach can help explain why some genes respond to a particular environmental stimulus, while others do not.
Metabolic Engineering and Flux Analysis
Metabolic engineering is applied to further our mechanistic understanding of diseases, such as obesity, diabetes, Parkinson's and Alzheimer diseases. The objective of this project is to quantify the pathway alterations in response to genetic alterations and environmental mediators. Knowledge of the flux distributions in cells at different physiological states is of increasing importance by providing "cellular" targets for evaluation as predictors, biomarkers, or targets of the disease.
Tissue engineering and regenerative medicine aim to improve or replace biological functions. Our goal is to design cellular systems and manipulate cellular micro-environment to create cell replacement therapies. We work with stem cells to understand the interaction between soluble factors and substrate properties in mediating cell fate decision, with the goal of developing potential treatment strategies for diseases such as Alzheimerís and Parkinsonís diseases.