Proteins: Natural processes, including defense against pathogens and disease, involve multiple protein domains, weak interactions that function cooperatively, geometrically optimized elements, etc. The spatial and quantitative aspects of such systems are tweaked during evolution to create defenses that do not resemble the simple molecules designed by humans. Our goal is to create complex therapeutic proteins that mimic natural systems but avoid unwanted off-target effects. We have developed novel computational design strategies towards this goal. Current disease targets include pancreatitis, ALS, pain and milk production in nursing mothers.
Targeting host pathways as antivirals: We seek to identify host pathways which can be targeted to treat existing and emerging viruses using genetic and chemical biology approaches. This project involves a multi-PI team – together with ABBVIE scientists – who will conduct one integrated program that will collectively yield a cell-based screening and machine learning-enabled analysis pipeline which will be used to reveal (a) host targets, (b) compounds that disrupt infection/replication, and (c) shared features between virus-host interactions.