The ultimate goal of our laboratory is to be among the most successful and respected in the field of structural biology. We strive to be recognized for the importance of the research that we do, and also for being open, collegial and fair. We create a learning environment for training of next-generation scientists through our teamwork and collaborations with other researchers in the area across the globe.We believe that the true power of collaboration lies in the diversity of skills, knowledge and expertise, which can be applied to solving a particular problem. Altogether we know a lot and can do a lot, but this knowledge and skills are usually scattered between multiple heads and hands. Therefore, our mission is to bring them altogether and turn our science into exciting dialog (or interview) with mother-nature.
Our current research at UIC focuses on the ribosome, a complex molecular machine that is responsible for synthesizing proteins which are the essential building blocks of all living organisms. It is by the action of these ribosomes that the blueprint of life encoded in the DNA is translated into proteins that control every aspect of a living organism at a chemical level. The process of protein synthesis is called translation because ribosome interprets the language of nucleotides in genes into the language of amino acids in the proteins. There are tens and thousands of proteins in our body performing important functions like immune response to pathogens, regulation of heart beat, monitoring blood glucose levels, allowing oxygen absorption in the lungs, and neurotransmission, which are all made by the ribosomes. Hence the process of “protein translation” performed by the ribosome is critical for sustaining life. The principles of ribosome organization and functioning are fundamentally similar between all living organisms, however nearly 3 billion years of independent evolution made our ribosomes slightly different from the ones found in bacteria. Because of these differences, it is possible for some natural compounds - antibiotics - to selectively inhibit ribosomes of pathogenic microorganisms (bacteria), and thereby kill them, with no effect on us (humans). Ribosome inhibitors are among the most successful antimicrobial drugs and constitute more than 50% of all medicines used to treat infections in clinic. However, quick development of resistance to the existing antibiotics by pathogenic microorganisms demands a constant search for new antibiotics and represents a major health care threat in the United States and across the globe. It has been the long-term scientific focus of many laboratories to tackle this recurring problem and the Ribosome Structural Studies are at the forefront of addressing this very issue.
Representative Publications (Complete list of publications on Google Scholar)
Awards and Honors 2008 - Achievement Award for Outstanding Thesis Research (UMDNJ/Rutgers) 2008 - N. Ronald Morris Award for Excellent Research (UMDNJ/Rutgers) 2004 - Best Student of Lomonosov Moscow State University of Year 2004 2004 - Student Commencement Speaker 1999 - Third prize (bronze medal) at the 10th International Biology Olympiad (Uppsala, Sweden) 1998, 1999 - First prize (gold medal) at the All-Russian Biology Olympiad
Office: 4170 MBRB, MC 567