Our lab is interested in the study of glycans (sugars) that are involved in cellular differentiation and cancer progression in a field of study known as glycomics. The posttranslational modification of proteins with glycans changes significantly during development and in the presence of diseases such as cancer. These glycan modifications play important roles in establishing the functions of proteins. We are applying glycoproteomic techniques to identify glycoproteins with tumor-specific glycosaylation changes in a variety of human cancers. These glycoprotein biomarkers can be evaluated for use as diagnostic and/or therapeutic targets.
Three-dimensional (3D) electronic system integration, advanced cooling and power delivery for 3D systems, biosensor technologies and their integration with signal processing circuitry, carbon based nanoelectronics, nanofabrication technology, novel interconnect systems.
The Bakir lab is interested in three-dimensional (3D) electronic system integration, advanced cooling and power delivery for 3D systems, biosensor technologies for cancer and other diseases and their integration with signal processing circuitry, carbon based nanoelectronics, nanofabrication technology, novel interconnect systems.
Current research projects in the Neurological Biomaterials and Cancer Therapeutics Laboratory include: developing scaffolds for peripheral nerve regeneration and interfacing; developing vehicles for contrast agents and receptor-targeted nano-scale drug delivery for the treatment of malignant tumors; and engineering a system for tumor exvasion. He is also leading a research team exploring interfacing technologies that will better integrate external electronics to the nervous system.
Benedict Benigo, MD
Benigno received his M.D. degree from the Georgetown University School of Medicine and completed his residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology at St. Vincent's Hospital and Medical Center in New York City. He completed two fellowships in gynecologic oncology, one at the Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta and the other at the M.D. Anderson Hospital and Tumor Institute in Houston. He was a visiting professor at the University of Saigon for three years during the War in Vietnam where he set up a residency training program for young Vietnamese surgeons. From 1974 to 1982, he was on the faculty at the Emory University School of Medicine where he was the Director of Gynecologic Oncology at Emory Hospital and at Grady Memorial Hospital. Following his departure from Emory, he founded University Gynecologic Oncology (UGO). UGO is one of the world leaders in oncology care for women with cancer of the female reproductive tract. He also serves as the Director of Gynecologic Oncology at Northside Hospital. Dr. Benigno has published numerous articles and textbook chapters and speaks regularly on various aspects of gynecologic cancer. In 2008, he brought the technique of heated intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC) to Northside Hospital where it has become routine in the treatment of patients with ovarian cancer. Because the five year survival rate in patients with advanced cancer of the ovary has not improved significantly in the last 25 years, Dr. Benigno founded the Ovarian Cancer Institute (OCI) in 1999 and continues to serve as its Chief Executive Officer.
The Bowen lab is focused on prostate cancer genomics, whole genome sequencing, diagnostic marker development, molecular evolution and the contribution of transposable elements to genome evolution.
Guilherme Cantuaria, MD
The Champion Lab focuses on developing biologically active nanomaterials made from proteins for therapeutic applications. We identify proteins with anti-cancer potential, specifically for breast cancer, and engineer them to form nanocarriers that enable their transport and activity inside cells. Current proteins of interest include those from human bacterial pathogens and intracellular antibodies.
Our research focuses on the physiology of neurons and circuits that integrate sensory information in the mammalian spinal cord to guide purposeful movements of the limbs. Particular attention is given to adaptations induced by trauma, toxicity and disease, including cancer in mature mammals
The Lab for Precision Therapies at Georgia Tech, also called the ‘Dahlman Lab’, works at the interface of drug delivery, nanotechnology, genomics, and gene editing. James has designed nanoparticles that deliver RNAs to the lung, heart, and tumors; these nanoparticles have been used by over ten labs across the US to date. He has also developed targeted in vivo combination therapies; nanoparticles deliver multiple therapeutic RNAs at once, in order to manipulate several nodes on a single disease pathway. For example, he concurrently delivered two therapeutic RNAs for combination cancer therapy. More recently, he developed a method to quantify the targeting, biodistribution, and pharmacokinetics of dozens to hundreds of distinct nanoparticles at once directly in vivo.
Finally, James uses molecular biology to rationally design the genetic drugs he delivers. He recently reported ‘dead’ guide RNAs; these engineered RNAs can be used to simultaneously up- and down-regulate different genes in a single cell using Cas9, and have been used to study cancer therapy resistance pathways.
George Daneker, MD
The Dawson lab is focused on quantitative analysis of the molecular and mechanical profiles of cells in tumor and tissue microenvironments. Long-term research goals include: (1) developing novel therapies for metastatic cancer, (2) improving stem cell homing to tissues, and (3) using mechanics to guide in the development of tissue substitutes.
J. Brandon Dixon
Dr. Dixon's research focuses on elucidating and quantifying the molecular aspects that control lymphatic function. Through the use of tissue-engineered model systems and animal models, our research is shedding light on the active roles of the lymphatic system in lipid metabolism and transport. There are currently no efficacious cures for people suffering from lymphedema, and the molecular mechanisms connecting lymphedema severity with obesity and lipid accumulation are unknown. Knowledge of these mechanisms will provide insight for planning treatment and prevention strategies for people facing lipid-lymphatic related diseases.
Mostafa El Sayed
The following research projects are carried out in the Laser Dynamics Laboratory (LDL) directed by Professor El-Sayed. LDL houses the most recent lasers and laser spectroscopic equipment for time resolved studies (transient absorption, fluorescence, Raman, FTIR, and single photon correlation lifetime system) in the femto-to-millisecond time scale. The present research interests are: 1. NanoScience: Properties of Material Confined in Time and Space of Different Shape 2. NanoTechnology: Potential Applications of Nanoparticles.
Emelianov’s research interests are in the areas of intelligent diagnostic imaging and patient-specific image-guided therapeutics including cancer imaging and diagnosis, the detection and treatment of atherosclerosis, the development of imaging and therapeutic nanoagents, guided drug delivery and controlled release, simultaneous anatomical, functional, cellular and molecular imaging, multi-modal imaging, and image-guided therapy.
Epigenetic mechanisms are crucial for chromatin structure reprogramming and gene expression during mammalian development and cell differentiation. Dysregulation of epigenetic information is implicated in many human diseases including cancer because it disrupts fundamental processes such as imprinting, X chromosome inactivation, and tissue specific and developmental gene regulation. H1 linker histones are major chromatin structural proteins that associate with nucleosome core particles and play a key role in mediating higher order chromatin structure folding. Previously we showed, by inactivating 3 H1 linker histone genes simultaneously, that the total amount of H1 is essential for mammalian development. We derived triple H1 null embryonic stem cell lines and showed that H1 is particularly important in controlling several imprinted gene expression in these cells. These studies suggested a new link between H1 and DNA methylation. Using genetic modified mouse models and stem cell culture system, we seek to further elucidate the mechanisms of the multiple levels of epigenetic regulations that are required for establishing and maintaining tissue and cell type specific functions.
Prof. Fekri is the founder of the SPC Research Lab that has a multidisciplinary flavor working in three intertwined areas of Sensing, Processing, and Communications. In particular, he applies signal processing, machine learning, statistics and information theory to fundamental research problems in biology (e.g., molecular communications, biomarker sensing, miro-RNA sensing, disease detection, neural computing), probabilistic graphical models in social computing (e.g., trust and recommender systems, truth discovery, attack detection), and wireless communications (e.g., coding, compression, approximate computing).
Metabolomes, the “mirror on the wall” for complex proteomes and transcriptomes show strong promise for generating new hypothesis regarding the early stages of cancer development, and for revealing biomarker panels providing multivariate diagnostic indexes. Mass spectrometry-based metabolome profiling technologies have a demonstrated potential for early disease detection in clinical settings (e.g. newborn screening), provided the specific assays employed have the sample throughput, robustness and reproducibility necessary to handle numerous clinical samples adequately. Our group specializes in developing both targeted and untargeted mass spectrometry-based assays which, combined with multivariate data classification, provide metabolite panels that are aiding us in early cancer detection.
Genomic approaches to human genetics; variability of gene expression; systems biology of disease; theory of canalization and biological robustness.
A generally overlooked aspect of biological systems is their robustness. Development, behavior and physiology for the most part operate within some normal range and are resistant to environmental or mutational perturbation. Humans in particular evolved rapidly and have dramatically altered their own environment in recent generations. My group is interested in the question of whether and how these perturbations contribute to complex diseases like metabolic syndrome, cancer, and depression.
Alexander Gray is the Chief Executive Officer of Skytree, which he co-founded in 2010. Until recently he served as an Associate Professor in the College of Computing at Georgia Institute of Technology. His research work aims to scale up all of the major practical methods of machine learning to massive datasets as well as develop new statistical methodology and theory, and has developed a number of current state-of-the-art algorithms for several key problems.
Han’s research at TGen involves the identification of frequent alterations responsible for driving the onset and progression of pancreatic cancer and the development of new anti-pancreatic cancer agents that target these alterations.
Mark Hay's lab focuses on the chemical ecology of marine organisms but they collaborate broadly to determine the potential pharmaceutical application of the bioactive secondary metabolites they discover in their ecological research. Thus, one objective of the lab is to discover small molecule drug leads against a targeted group of diseases (including cancer) critical to developing nations and to the United States, by using ecological insights to guide the investigation of novel natural products from biodiverse coral reef organisms and marine microbes. Presently their expeditions related to drug discovery are focused primarily on coral reefs and deep water sediments in Fiji. The project also helps build local institutions and attitudes to conserve marine biodiversity of the South Pacific, and undertakes this goal in ways that provide positive economic incentives for the owners of these marine environments.
The Hunt Lab focuses on the development of ultrasonic devices that can be integrated with Microsystems. Among these have been: ACT devices, micromachined polyvinylidene fluoride-trifluoroethylene (PVDF)-based transducers for intravascular ultrasound, acousto-optic devices for tunable lasers as well as SAW and bulk acoustic wave (BAW) devices for wireless and chemical sensor applications.
Mission is to study the role and the involvement of lysosomal proteolysis in the pathogenesis of diseases. Main areas include:
- the biogenesis and pathophysiological function of Cathepsin D;
- the regulation of the autophagy-lysosomal pathway in cancer and in neurodegeneration;
- the nanobioimaging of vesicular traffic defects.
The Jordan lab works to develop and apply computational approaches to public health challenges; our research efforts entail the large-scale analysis of various omic data sets. We are particularly interested in human clinical and population genomics with an emphasis on the relationship between human ancestry and genomic determinants of health. Our group also studies the role that transposable elements play in regulating the expression of the human genome.
Variations in the distribution of proteins that metabolize drugs can control a cancer cell's ability to respond to chemotherapeutics. The Kemp lab has used computational modeling for understanding how patient-specific variability leads to patient sensitivity to doxorubicin treatment at different doses. With this knowledge, complex behavior induced by pharmacological intervention was correctly predicted, suggesting strategies for manipulation of drug metabolism to augment cytotoxicity. The lab also investigates the role of antioxidant genes in the shift and stability of phenotypes associated with cancer cell transdifferentiation. Our most recent work has explored the dual role of antioxidant transport and drug efflux through multidrug resistance proteins in defining "cancer stem cells" known as side populations.
Research in the Kubanek lab takes an integrated approach to understand how organic small molecules function as chemical cues in ecological interactions – working from the molecular to the community level. We use ecological insights about how marine organisms use chemical cues to guide our discovery of novel natural products for drug discovery. Funded by an International Cooperative Biodiversity Groups project by NIH since 2004, we have isolated, performed full structure elucidation, and evaluated the pharmacological activities of ~50 novel natural products including >10 new carbon skeletons from Fijian marine organisms. Many of these novel natural products exhibit selective activities against human cancer cell lines and some can be used as molecular probes for understanding drug-target interactions.
Human health has been transformed by our collective capacity to engineer immunity – from the pivotal development of the smallpox vaccine to the curative potential of recent cancer immunotherapies. These examples motivate our research program that is conducted at the interface of Engineering and Immunology, and where we develop biomedical technologies and applications that shape a diverse array of immunological systems.
The questions that are central to our exploration include: How do we begin to study an individual's repertoire of well over one billion immune cells when current technologies only allow us to study a handful of cells at a time? What are the biomarkers of immunological health as the body responds to disease and ageing, and how may these indicators trigger clinical decisions? And how can we genetically rewire immune cells to provide them with entirely new functions to better fight complex diseases such as cancer?
To aid in our studies, we use high-throughput technologies such as next-generation sequencing and quantitative mass spectrometry, and pioneer the development of micro- and nanotechnologies in order to achieve our goals. We focus on clinical problems in cancer, infectious diseases and autoimmunity, and ultimately strive to translate key findings into therapies for patients.
Wilbur Lam, MD
Wilbur Lam has a unique background as a physician-scientist-engineer trained in pediatric hematology/oncology and bioengineering. The interdisciplinary Lam laboratory, located at Emory and Georgia Tech, includes engineers, biologists, biophysicists, and clinicians, and serves as a unique “one-stop shop” in which we apply and develop nano/microsystems (MEMs-based platforms, microfluidics, etc.) to study and diagnose childhood cancer and blood diseases. The Lam lab’s specific interests related to oncology involve the cellular mechanics of leukemia, cancer metastasis, microenvironmental interactions that drive oncogenesis, and cancer thrombosis as well as the invention and translation of novel diagnostic devices.
Rajesh Laungani, MD
The Lee lab is engaged in a variety of efforts related to cancer including: biomedical modeling, informatics and algorithmic strategies for genomic analysis, health risk prediction, early disease prediction and diagnosis, optimal treatment strategies and drug delivery, healthcare outcome analysis and treatment prediction.
The Lobachev lab is interested in studying the molecular mechanisms underlying chromosome breakage and other chromosomal instabilities commonly associated with in cancer and other diseases. Recent work has established that breaks along chromosomes do not occur randomly but rather often coincide with the regions containing repetitive elements capable of adopting non-canonical DNA secondary structures.
The Lu group is interested in doing research at the interface of engineering and biology. We engineer BioMEMS (Bio Micro-Electro-Mechanical System) and microfluidic devices to address questions in cancer biology, neuroscience, cell biology, and biotechnology that are difficult to answer using conventional techniques. These micro systems are sometimes referred to as Lab-on-a-Chip allow us to gather large-scale quantitative data about complex systems. Microfluidic devices are especially suitable for solving these problems because of the many advantages associated with shrinking the devices down to a scale comparable to typical biological systems.
William Lyday, MD
Gastrointestinal and Liver Cancer Prevention, Early Detection, and Novel Therapies. Current Research Projects Involving - Treatment of Barrett's Esophagus, Esophageal Cancer Prevention
Lyon's research interests center around the development and implementation of new polymeric materials for bioanalytical and biomedical applications. The group mainly focuses on the design of hydrogel nanoparticles with architectures that are tailored to the desired application. For example, we have developed nanogels with precise core/shell architectures for the targeted delivery of oligonucleotides (e.g. siRNA, microRNA). Other polymer nanomaterials have been developed for use in responsive interfaces/thin films, surfaces that control cellular (eukaryotic and prokaryotic) cell adhesion and proliferation, bioanalytical sensing, and controlled drug delivery.
In the McDonald lab, we are taking an integrated systems approach to the study of cancer. This means that we view cancer not as a defect in any particular gene or protein, but as a de-regulated cellular/inter-cellular process. An understanding of such complex processes requires the implementation of experimental approaches that can provide an integrative holistic or 'systems' view of intra-and inter-cellular process. We employ a number high-throughput genomic (e.g., RNA-seq, microarray) technologies to gather systems data on the status of cancer cells. We strive to integrate into our research program, the exceptional strengths that exist at Georgia Tech in the fields of engineering and the computational sciences.
Microsystems, Gigascale Integration (GSI), Academic Leadership
Cell regulation by sphingolipid mediators; lipidomics (metabolomics); roles of cell signaling in pathogenesis, cancer prevention and treatment; biomolecular mass spectrometry; biodiversity
Milam’s current research interests focus on designing and characterizing colloids functionalized with biologically-relevant macromolecules such as oligonucleotides and cellular adhesion molecules. The specific recognition between matching macromolecules such as complementary DNA strand pairs allows for programmable adhesion between either complementary particle surfaces or between complementary particle and matrix interfaces. Using a variety of biocompatible and biodegradable materials as the colloidal substrate, these biocolloids will serve as building blocks to fabricate novel material constructs ranging from stimuli-responsive hybrid materials to therapeutic delivery vehicles
The fundamental question we are trying to answer is how the coordinated cell movements are regulated during animal development. Different groups of cells move to different locations in a growing embryo to give rise to specific tissue and structures. It is a very complex process since the “ground” cells travel on is also undergoing constant rearrangement and growth. We use neural crest as a model to study the mechanisms of cell migration during embryonic development. The neural crest is a vertebrate innovation, comprised of highly migratory stem-like cells that give rise to multiple tissue and structures, including craniofacial bones and cartilages, connective tissue in the heart, enteric nervous system in the gut, and pigment cells all over the skin. Defects in their proliferation, migration, differentiation, or survival lead to numerous diseases and birth defects, including craniofacial and heart malformations as well as different types of cancer. Ongoing studies include analyzing the molecular and cellular mechanisms controlling cell-cell, cell-extracellular matrix, and intracellular cytoskeletal interactions during neural crest migration and exploring whether our findings can be extended to cancer metastasis.
Adegboyega (Yomi) Oyelere
The overarching research objective of our laboratory is to delineate the chemical basis of the molecular recognition events employed by biomolecules to drive important biological processes. We are interested in how perturbation of molecular recognition, by natural and synthetic ligands, can be used to understand the molecular basis of biological processes. In the pursuit of our research, we find inspiration in the fact that the basic molecular recognition principles in globular RNAs and proteins are one and the same. In this line of thought, one of the primary research focuses of our laboratory is the use of common molecular template to design new ligands for RNA and protein targets. Histone deacetylases and ribosomes are the current targets in this project. The ligands that have resulted from these studies have been used to probe the molecular basis of the function of their respective targets. Also, many elicit practical and desirable bioactivities including anti-tumor and anti-infective activities. Furthermore, our laboratory is involved in an interdisciplinary collaboration with the El-Sayed’s group on the design of new organic ligand conjugated gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) for cell selective delivery. Individual research project in our laboratory involves a unique blend of the tools of synthetic organic chemistry, computational chemistry, biochemistry and molecular biology.
Research by Pierce and others has shown that changes in cell glycans can herald the presence of cancerous or precancerous cells. Among his research accomplishments, Pierce and his team isolated a specific enzyme known as Gnt-V that is elevated in colorectal and breast cancer cells, as well as other types of cancer. The team is now looking for ways to inhibit Gnt-V in hopes of developing a treatment that will slow the growth of tumors and prevent metastasis. The team at the Complex Carbohydrate Research Center has also developed new ways to identify changes in glycans attached to proteins known as glycoproteins.
Their search for new diagnostics also extends to pancreatic cancer. The UGA Cancer Center team is studying pancreatic tissue and fluid samples to find glycan changes that can be measured in a blood test that would allow doctors to diagnose the cancer early, when it’s more easily treated.
Tissue remodeling in arteries due to sickle cell disease or HIV-infection, roles of proteases in tumor metastasis, and bone marrow-derived stem cell based therapies.
Cancer research in the Platt lab focuses on the role of roles of proteases in tumor metastasis, and bone marrow-derived stem cell based therapies. Recent work has focused on a novel approach for the detection of abnormal levels of cathepsin K in body fluids and the utility of these changes as an early biomarker of metastatic disease.
Prausnitz and his colleagues carry out research on biophysical methods of drug delivery, which employ microneedles, ultrasound, lasers, electric fields, heat, convective forces and other physical means to control the transport of drugs, proteins, genes and vaccines into and within the body.
Metals and metalloproteins are integral components of virtually every metabolic and signaling pathway of consequence to human health and disease. The Reddi laboratory seeks to elaborate on the multifaceted roles of transition metals in biochemistry, placing an emphasis on cancer cell biology. Our lab is currently deciphering the cellular and molecular mechanisms by which the abundant metalloprotein, Cu/Zn Superoxide Dismutase, regulates a casein kinase important in Wnt signaling and control of respiratory vs. fermentative energy metabolism, processes that are central to the pathology of numerous cancers. To achieve our aims, we employ cutting-edge techniques that lie at the interface of biochemistry, inorganic chemistry, biophysics, chemical biology, molecular genetics, and cell biology.
Optical technologies have enabled key advances in biology and medicine due to their ability to assess many chemical and physical properties of cells and tissues with great flexibility (e.g., in-vivo, non-invasively, over a wide range of length scales, and over long periods of time). My lab seeks to continue advancing optical technologies to help improve our understanding of biological processes and our ability to identify disease. Specifically, we focus on developing and applying optical imaging and spectroscopy, along with advanced signal processing methods, to gain access to novel forms of functional and molecular contrast for a variety of applications, including cancer detection, tumor margin assessment, hematology, and neuron functional imaging.
The Santangelo lab is generally involved in RNA regulation, single molecule imaging, and RNA virus pathogenesis. Current interests related to cancer involves efforts to image microRNAs and other RNAs in cancer cells.
Dr. Sarioglu's research interests are at the interface of nano-/micro-engineering and biomedicine. He is particularly interested in developing N/MEMS-based technologies for biomedical applications.
Computational Biology, Bioinformatics, and Systems Biology - Development of tools for the prediction of protein structure and function from sequence; functional genomics; automatic assignment of enzymes to metabolic pathways, prediction of protein tertiary and quaternary structure and folding pathways; prediction of membrane protein tertiary structure, prediction of small molecule ligands for drug discovery, prediction of druggable protein targets, drug design, equilibrium and dynamic properties of lipid bilayers; simulation of virus coat protein assembly.
The Song lab is engaged with research in statistical machine learning, with primary interests in nonparametric kernel methods, probabilistic graphical models, time series and network analysis. I am also interested in large-scale and distributed learning problems, and machine learning applications in texts, images, networks, computational biology and information rich social media. Current cancer related research involves understanding changes in network relationships between genes in cancer cells.
The Storici Lab studies the mechanisms by which broken DNA is repaired and translates these findings into applications for gene targeting and gene therapy in cancer and other diseases..
The unifying theme of the Styczynski lab is the study of the dynamics and regulation of metabolism, with ultimate applications in biotechnology and drug development. Group members use high-throughput analytical techniques, coupled with computational modeling and statistical analysis, to learn how cellular metabolism behaves and how it is regulated, and then to attempt to control those metabolic behaviors in cancer and other cells.
Sulchek's research focuses primarily on the measurement and prediction of how multiple individual biological bonds produce a coordinated function within molecular and cellular systems. There are two complementary goals. The first is to understand the kinetics of multivalent pharmaceuticals during their targeting of disease markers; the second is to quantify the host cell signal transduction resulting from pathogen invasion. Several tools are developed and employed to accomplish these goals. The primary platform for study is the atomic force microscope (AFM), which controls the 3-D positioning of biologically functionalized micro- and nanoscale mechanical probes. Interactions between biological molecules are quantified in a technique called force spectroscopy. Membrane protein solubilized nanolipoprotein particles (NLPs) are also used to functionalize micro/nano-scale probes with relevant biological mediators. Current studies related to cancer involve differences in membrane properties associated with the metastatic potential of cancer cells.
The mission of the Vannberg laboratory is to use modern genomics to study human immunity to intracellular pathogens and human cancers. We strive to define molecular pathways crucial for immunity to pathogens and cancers and these studies guide small molecule and vaccine design.
Brani Vidakovic and his group are interested in statistical analysis of signatures of cancer assessed via scaling attributes in medical signals and images. For example, backgrounds of mammograms, modeled as a 2-D self-similar random field define scaling indices useful in breast cancer diagnostics. Also, the scaling within protein-mass spectra signals or within volatile organic
components in human breath are additional related areas of Vidakovic's interest that could be discriminatory of cancer presence.
The Voit lab is focused on computational analyses of biomedical systems, metabolic pathways, and biochemical systems theory as it applies to cellular function in healthy and diseased (including cancer) cells. Current interests related to cancer are focusing on network analysis of molecular processes in cancer cells.
The goal of the Wang lab is to accelerate the early detection, diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, and prevention of cancer and other diseases in translational medicine through advanced bioinformatics, systems biology, and molecular image processing research. The lab is equipped with a modern computing cluster and a high resolution visualization system. Research is divided into four project tracks:1. Systems and synthetic biology; 2. Molecular and cellular image analysis; 3. –omic biomarker identification; and 4. Bio-nano-informatics integration and interfacing with caBIG.
Our research focuses on LC-MS based proteomics and its biomedical applications. Novel MS based methods are being developed to characterize proteins, especially protein post-translational modifications (PTMs). MS-based large-scale analysis can systematically identify and quantify proteins and their PTMs for the different states of cells or tissues, such as cancerous samples. This may provide a better understanding of the function of proteins, the role that proteins play in physiological and pathological processes, cell signaling, cell metabolism, and the relationship between proteins and cancer.
Dr. Zhu is a Regents Professor of Biomedical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, and Physics and holds the J. Erskine Love Endowed Chair in Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory University. His Ph.D. and postdoctoral training with Richard Skalak at Columbia University and University of California, San Diego was on the mathematical modeling of cell locomotion and cell adhesion. But he has also become a self-taught experimentalist since 1990 after he built his own lab at Georgia Tech. A resulting strength of Dr. Zhu’s work is integration of theory and experiment. He pioneered the analysis of interactions at the junctional interface between molecules anchored to two apposing surfaces by inventing the required experiments with custom-design instruments and/or by developing the needed mathematical models. Armed by these powerful tools, the Zhu lab characterized the biophysical regulations of 2D binding and showed their biological relevance. In particular, the Zhu lab has shown that in situ measures of TCR–pMHC and TCR–pMHC–CD8 interactions correspond to T-cell effector functionality. Dr. Zhu also is an internationally recognized leader in molecular biomechanics and mechanobiology. His lab conceptualized and/or demonstrated several types of mechanical regulation of protein unbinding and unfolding (catch bonds, force-history, cyclic mechanical reinforcement, and dynamic catch) in a variety of receptor–ligand systems, including selectins, integrins, platelet glycoprotein Ibα, actin, and T-cell receptors with their respective ligands. More recently, the Zhu lab has developed a fluorescence biomembrane force probe (fBFP) to enable concurrent measurements of force-regulated receptor–ligand interaction and intracellular signaling so triggered. Importantly, the TCR–pMHC catch bond has been shown to correspond to T-cell signaling, providing important support to the TCR mechanosensor hypothesis that underlies the present application. The work of the Zhu lab has resulted in a series high impact papers published in top journals on 2D interaction of pMHC with the TCR and/or the CD4/8 coreceptors, their mechanical regulation, and their relation to T cell biology. He has strong records of fruitful collaborations with the co-PI of this U01, Dr. Michelle Krogsgaard, including joint publications and proposals. These experiences and expertise qualify Dr. Zhu for his role as the Contact PI in this PS-OP application.