I am gay and I am a chemical biology PhD student.//
I conducted tissue engineering research at a regenerative medicine institute for six years to study bone formation and develop spinal fusion therapies. I then took the plunge back into graduate school at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. My focus areas as a PhD student in the Raines lab are protein chemistry and structure-function relationships. I specifically study ribonucleases (RNases), proteins responsible (amongst other things) for cleaving RNA. I’m investigating the activity of RNases and their interactions with the ribonuclease inhibitor (RI) protein.My research interests are driven by a desire to help people, particularly when I have personal connections to the topic being investigated. Currently, I hope to develop “Trojan horse” variants of ribonucleases that are capable of evading RI. These tailored proteins would be innocuous to healthy cells but be activated by those harboring an infection. Upon activation, the protein would then indiscriminately cleave RNA, disrupting cellular processes and leading to death of the infected cell. Currently, I’m focusing on an RNase variant that is activated by an HIV-infected cell. This work could potentially advance treatment of HIV-infected individuals. I believe the greatest duty of Science is to improve the lives of others, which drives my work every day.