Integral membrane proteins regulate signal transduction and the flow of solutes and ions across cell membranes, and their disruption is involved in many human diseases. My lab focuses on the structure and dynamics of G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) and proteins involved in sterol and lipid homeostasis. We pioneered use of protein engineering and lipid-mediated crystallization to determine human membrane protein structures, leading to the first atomic structures of GPCRs for soluble hormones and neurotransmitters. We have applied these technologies to solve structures of multiple CNS GPCRs, including receptors involved in circadian rhythms and synaptic homeostasis. We are applying these same tools to understand the mechanism of membrane proteins that sense and control the cholesterol and lipid composition in mammalian cell membranes. Our goals are to understand at the atomic level how these proteins function, and to develop assays that will enable discovery of small molecule inhibitors as novel therapeutics.

Awards and Achievements

  • Mallinckrodt Scholar
  • Searle Scholar
  • Amgen Young Investigator Award