BioPACIFIC MIP Research: SET 3 - Functional Biomimics
What is your research focus?
My research projects are working towards developing a new class of biomaterials for liquid-phase separation and protein delivery. My projects utilize amino acid-based N-carboxyanhydrides monomers to produce degradable biopolymers to mimic liquid-liquid phase separation seen in membrane-less organelles for protein delivery. These polypeptides form condensates at physiologically relevant pHs and temperatures, form complexes with anionic biomolecules such as RNA or bovine serum albumin, and the release their cargo in response to changes in the cell microenvironment.
My research overlaps with functional biomimics SET as we are modeling our polypeptides after condensate forming proteins in nature, but with superior and controllable properties. My biomaterials consist of functionalized polypeptides that mimic disordered proteins found in cells but will have tunable features such as pH and redox responsiveness to trigger cargo release. By improving upon the features that trigger phase separation in membrane-less organelles, these polypeptides could be used for extracellular and intracellular delivery of macromolecules of interest such as genes, proteins, or peptides. This aligns greatly with SET 3's goal of producing biomaterials that mimic molecules found in nature with improved qualities.
What excites you about NSF BioPACIFIC MIP?
I am interested in the BioPACIFIC MIP program because my research and interests greatly overlap with the program's mission of developing new biomaterials by combing synthetic biology with chemistry. I have been working with polypeptide-based biomaterials since the start of my PhD and I think working with BioPAFICIC MIP as a Fellow could greatly expand the classes of polypeptides I am working to develop through networking and discussing my research. This program would provide many opportunities to generate new ideas and better characterize or find biological applications for the biomaterials I am developing as well. Overall, I am most interested in the discussions and exposure to new types of biomaterials and their applications provided through the BioPACIFIC MIP Fellows program as it could greatly benefit my research and understanding of synthetic biology or chemistry and materials that differ from what I produce.