Contributions to Science
As a graduate student at the University of Virginia, I worked in Don Hunt’s lab alongside John Yates and together we performed ground-breaking studies in the use of mass spectrometry to determine the primary structure of proteins. I am first author on a paper describing the complete sequence of a protein using tandem mass spectrometry. Prior, only a few small proteins for which their amino sequence was known had been sequenced by tandem mass spectrometry. This work helped validate that it was possible to sequence proteins using tandem mass spectrometry. I am first author on one of the first papers describing the using low nano-LC coupled with ESI. I contributed to many other publications demonstrating the use of mass spectrometry for structural analysis of proteins.
While at Merck Research Laboratories, my lab made significant contributions to a wide range of projects including key contributions to the development of the DPP4 program which led to the approval and marketing of Januvia. The range of contributions to drug discovery and development are exemplified in manuscripts listed below. My efforts in drug discovery have continued in the academic setting.
In 2002 I became interested in the application of hydrogen/deuterium exchange mass spectrometry. My lab focused on the development of a fully automated system, advanced software to facilitate robust high precision analysis, and applications of HDX in protein-ligand interactions with an emphasis on nuclear receptors, enzymes, and GPCRs. The publications listed below include an extensive list of key contributions to the HDX field.
In addition to the advancement of structural proteomics, my research has focused on chemical biology approaches to better understand nuclear receptor signaling. Our group described the first synthetic ligand for the orphan nuclear receptor NR1F subfamily (ROR)s and subsequently showed the utility of advanced compounds as anti-inflammatory and anti-obesity agents as well as RORG agonists for enhancing protective immunity in the context of cancer therapy. Our lab has also contributed to a fundamentally new understanding of the mechanism by which the nuclear receptor PPARG impacts insulin sensitivity.
Highlights on grant funding related to drug development programs.
I was consortium PI of the “The Comprehensive Center for Chemical Probe Discovery and Optimization at Scripps,” I had both a leadership role and a scientific role on this large multi-center 6-year U54 MLPCN Roadmap initiative.
I was consortium PI of a RC4 program in collaboration with Bruce Spiegelman at the Dana Faber, I was involved in the discovery and development of novel molecules for the treatment of obesity and diabetes. Work from our labs in this area led us to co-found Ember, a private biotech funded by Third Rock Ventures.
I was Co-PI on a NIDA funded U19 NCDDDG focused on the discovery and development of novel positive allosteric modulators of GABAB receptor for treatment of nicotine addiction.
I served on the Scripps-Pfizer collaboration Steering Committeefor its 5 year term coordinating collaborative drug discovery programs. I am PI of a 13-year long collaboration between my lab and Eli Lilly. I am PI on a collaborative grant with the private Biotech Synkine Therapeutics. I am Co-PI on a NIH Blueprint UH3 titled, “Developing nonmuscle myosin II inhibitors for substance use relapse.” Co-founder of Myosin Therapeutics. The Myosin Therapeutics’ clinical candidate emerged from the NIH Blueprint program.