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Paul A. Khavari, MD, PhD
Carl J. Herzog Professor in Dermatology in the School of Medicine
Current Research and Scholarly InterestsWe work in epithelial tissue as a model system to study stem cell biology, cancer and new molecular therapeutics. Epithelia cover external and internal body surfaces and undergo constant self-renewal while responding to diverse environmental stimuli. Epithelial homeostasis precisely balances stem cell-sustained proliferation and differentiation-associated cell death, a balance which is lost in many human diseases, including cancer, 90% of which arise in epithelial tissues.
Director, ChEM-H, Wells H. Rauser and Harold M. Petiprin Professor in the School of Engineering and Professor of Chemistry and, by courtesy, of Biochemistry
Current Research and Scholarly InterestsResearch in this laboratory focuses on problems where deep insights into enzymology and metabolism can be harnessed to improve human health.
For the past two decades, we have studied and engineered enzymatic assembly lines called polyketide synthases that catalyze the biosynthesis of structurally complex and medicinally fascinating antibiotics in bacteria. An example of such an assembly line is found in the erythromycin biosynthetic pathway. Our current focus is on understanding the structure and mechanism of this polyketide synthase. At the same time, we are developing methods to decode the vast and growing number of orphan polyketide assembly lines in the sequence databases.
For more than a decade, we have also investigated the pathogenesis of celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder of the small intestine, with the goal of discovering therapies and related management tools for this widespread but overlooked disease. Ongoing efforts focus on understanding the pivotal role of transglutaminase 2 in triggering the inflammatory response to dietary gluten in the celiac intestine.
Peter S. Kim
Virginia and D. K. Ludwig Professor of Biochemistry
Current Research and Scholarly InterestsWe are studying the mechanism of viral membrane fusion and its inhibition by drugs and antibodies. We use the HIV envelope protein (gp120/gp41) as a model system. Some of our studies are aimed at creating an HIV vaccine. We are also characterizing protein surfaces that are referred to as "non-druggable". These surfaces are defined empirically based on failure to identify small, drug-like molecules that bind to them with high affinity and specificity.
The George A. and Hilda M. Daubert Professor in Chemistry
Current Research and Scholarly Interests• Development of cell-permeable reagents for study and modification of RNAs
• Developing small-molecule probes of DNA repair pathways
• Design of a functional new genetic set, xDNA and xRNA (structure, function, applications)
• Synthesis of combinatorial fluorescent assemblies built on a DNA scaffold (oligodeoxyfluorosides, ODFs) as labels and sensors for biology and medicine