The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
Department of Cancer Systems Imaging
Description/Projects/Techniques: The focus of our research is the use of novel molecular scaffolds to develop targeted imaging probes for cancer. We are particularly interested in using directed evolution to redesign small “mini-proteins” and non-natural cyclic peptides to exhibit high target affinity and specificity, increased stability, and rapid clearance in vivo. To accomplish this we are using mRNA display in conjunction with unnatural amino acids and selective post-translational chemical modification. During a tutorial in my laboratory, students could choose to synthesize an unnatural amino acid (synthetic chemistry), construct and make an mRNA-peptide fusion for selection experiments (molecular biology), design, synthesize, and characterize peptides for imaging applications (medicinal chemistry), express and characterize a protein for use as a selection target (molecular biology/biochemistry). All students will have the opportunity to learn the basics of organic chemistry, PCR, Urea-PAGE, SDS-PAGE, oligonucleotide design, protein expression, cell culture, and in vitro selection.
Education & Training
Ph.D. - California Institute of Technology - 2007