Molecular Physiology and Biological Physics
Studying membrane microdomains and intracellulartrafficking of Ras using quantitative fluorescence microscopy in living cells
One of the major goals of my research program is to understand the role of membrane microdomains such as lipid rafts and caveolae in health and disease. We address this question using a combination of live cell imaging, cell biology, biophysics, and biochemical approaches. Current projects ongoing in the lab include:
1. How do proteins and lipid cooperate to build functional raft domains?
2. How do bacterial toxins exploit lipid rafts as a mechanism to enter host cells?
3. How do cholesterol and lipid rafts contribute to the progression of Alzheimer's disease?
4. How do mutations in caveolin-1 and defects in caveolae cause human diseases such as breast cancer and pulmonary arterial hypertension?
We are also interested in diffusion, a fundamental process that underlies all cellular functions. We are working in collaboration with biomathematicians to develop widely accessible methods to calibrate, measure and quantify protein and lipid diffusion in living cells. We are also applying these approaches to study novel protein complexes in the autophagy pathway, a housekeeping mechanism used by cells to maintain homeostasis in times of starvation and stress.