My current research revolves around understanding the nature of the interactions between nuclear receptors and small molecule ligands. Several overlapping research questions include:
1) The adoption of orphan nuclear receptors, or in other words, identification of the natural ligands of this interesting class of eukaryotic transcription factors that have no known ligands (hence, orphans) from various model organisms (such as Drosophila melanogaster, Caenorhabditis elegans, Ciona intestinalis and Daphnia pulex).
2) Investigating cross-reactivity of compounds that both interact with nuclear receptors as well ion channels (for example, the fungal natural product paxilline)
All of my current projects are in collaboration with undergraduates. Students working with me are typically engaged in one or more of the following types of projects:
Cloning – using molecular biology techniques to form recombinant expression vectors
Protein Biochemistry – Expression of protein constructs using bacterial expression systems followed various chromatographic steps
Bioinformatics – computer modeling of domains and construction of phylogenetic trees
Ligand Screening – Using biophysical techniques in vitro to identify protein ligands.