Assistant Professor of Chemistry
Ph.D. University of California, Berkeley, Chemistry (2013)
Areas of Expertise
We are engaged in an arms race with pathogens. And we’re losing. Just as quickly as we can develop new antibiotics or antiviral treatments, resistant strains emerge – often within the year. Evolution, it turns out, doesn’t always take eons. In fact, we are watching microbes evolve in real time in clinics, on farms and in the natural environment, which gives us the opportunity to both study how evolution occurs on short timescales and learn how to combat drug resistance.
My lab studies how drug resistance evolves at the molecular level with a particular focus on protein stability. Many forms of drug resistance depend upon a small number of mutations that result in changes to a protein’s amino acid sequence. By investigating how these changes affect protein structure, stability and function, we can begin to understand how evolution works at the molecular level and leverage these insights to inform the design and implementation of new drug treatments. Current projects in the lab investigate drug resistant mutations in β-lactamase, an enzyme critical for antibiotic resistance in bacteria, and HIV protease, an enzyme targeted by antiretroviral therapies using biophysical techniques (circular dichroism, UV-vis and fluorescence spectroscopies) and microbiology techniques (cell growth competitions, minimum inhibitory concentration measurements, screen development).