Dr. Zheng (Jake) Chen
The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston
McGovern Medical School
Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Biological clocks exert temporal control over essential cellular and physiological processes in diverse organisms. Conversely, dysregulated clocks have been associated with a number of chronic diseases and pathophysiological conditions, including sleep disorder, metabolic and cardiovascular diseases, depression, ageing, and cancer. In mammals, while the general feature of the circadian clock is well-established, much of the detailed mechanism underlying the function and regulation of the clock remains poorly defined.
Our lab employs an integrative approach combining high-throughput screening (HTS) and chemical biology to study the clock and clock-related diseases. Taking advantage of robust assays and small compound libraries encompassing broad chemical space, we expect to identify small molecules that can specifically and potently manipulate the clock. To investigate the modes of action of these compounds, we will perform biochemical purification and functional genetics to identify protein/gene targets.
Current projects include functional and mechanistic studies of small molecules previously found to potently enhance or modulate the circadian clock, and the possible use of these small molecules in disease models. Research experience in our lab will provide not only an in-depth understanding of clock biology, but also exposure to cutting-edge techniques and necessary scientific skills and spirits instrumental for future success.