From basic chemistry to new opioid biology

The worldwide opioid crisis has occasioned efforts to develop new opioids for both existing uses (pain control) as well as new indications (itch, addiction). We have focused on the discovery of compounds able to selectively activate one of the two main intracellular pathways associated with the kappa opioid receptor. This type of activity, called “functional selectivity” or “ligand bias”, has the potential to segregate many of the ultimate biological effects of therapeutic opioids.

New recipes for biocatalysis: Expanding the cytochrome P450 chemical landscape

The design and engineering of protein catalysts that carry out rare or non-natural chemistry remains a challenging contemporary goal. However, enzymes are inherently limited by their chemical composition, i.e. the reagent pool that exists in nature and the amino acids and cofactors that form their physical and catalytic core. Because of this limitation, the majority of chemical transformations developed by synthetic chemists remain, at least to our knowledge, biologically inaccessible.

Searching for selective catalytic reactions in complex molecular environments

This lecture will describe recent developments in our efforts to develop low-molecular weight catalysts for asymmetric reactions.  Over time, our view of asymmetry has ebbed and flowed, with foci on enantioselectivity, site-selectivity and chemoselectivity.  In most of our current work, we are studying issues of enantioselectivity as a prelude to extrapolation of catalysis concepts to more complex stereochemical settings where multiple issues are presented in a singular substrate.  Moreover, we continuously examine an interplay between screening of catalyst libraries and more hypothesis-dri

Expanding the imaging toolbox

Imaging tools have revolutionized our understanding of living systems by enabling researchers to “peer” into tissues and cells and visualize biological features in real time.  While powerful, these probes have been largely confined to monitoring cellular behaviors on a microscopic level.  Visualizing cellular interactions and functions across larger spatial scales—including those involved in cell migration to distant tissues, immunosurveillance, and other biological processes—remains a daunting task.  My research group is developing general toolsets to image such macroscopic


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