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Taking charge of proteins (and pediatric ophthalmology)



By: Bryan F. Shaw
Associate Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry
From: Baylor University
When: Wednesday, February 15, 2017
4:00 PM - 5:00 PM
Where: Dell Butcher Hall
Abstract: The first part of this seminar will present an overview of our work in protein electrostatics. We are examining whether the net electrostatic charge of a protein represents a druggable parameter in diseases linked to protein self-assembly. For example, can we design a small molecule that electrostatically inhibits the nucleation or propagation of amyloid-like oligomers, i.e., by increasing the net charge of the misfolded protein? Ancillary to these efforts, we are investigating (experimentally) how proteins regulate their networks of charge during metal coordination and electron transfer; and how electric fields (of physiological strength) affect the structure of cytosolic proteins (voltage-induced changes in conformation occur in membrane proteins, but what about non-membrane proteins, which must transiently approach membrane surfaces per Brownian motion?). The second part of this seminar will describe our efforts to create and disseminate a low cost tool for screening infants and small children for eye diseases that blind or kill. This free tool is being used by parents and doctors to trigger the diagnosis of retinoblastoma, pediatric cataract, refractive error, Coats’ disease, and myelin retinal nerve fiber layer.