Elucidating membrane transport

Membrane transport proteins are responsible for many critical biological functions including governing energy transduction, modifying ion concentrations, and actively importing metabolites into the cell. Membrane proteins represent ~30% of all proteins in each of the sequenced genomes. In addition, they are targets for over 50% of all marketed drugs.

Considering their biological and pharmacological relevance and their vast numbers throughout genomes, there is an enormous demand for structural information. However, membrane proteins represent less than 1% of the protein structures in the Protein Data Bank. The reason for this discrepancy stems from the hydrophobic nature of membrane proteins, which reside in a phospholipid bilayer, making them difficult to express, purify, and crystallize.

Mission statement

My research program has two main foci: development of innovative tools and approaches for determining 3D structures of membrane proteins and employing these and other biochemical/biophysical tools to determine the biological basis for membrane transport. This is an ideal format for students and postdocs to interact with other groups and learn numerous techniques through interdepartmental collaborations.