ASMS Research Award (2016)
NSF CAREER Award (2015)
Blanchard Assistant Professorship (2014)
Alexander von Humboldt Research Fellow (2002-2004)
Mass spectrometry (MS) is playing an increasingly important role in biomedical research as a really powerful technique to characterize proteins and protein post-translational modifications (PTMs), to measure their abundance changes and to investigate protein interactions, etc. Our research interests are primarily directed towards developing novel MS-based proteomics methods and applying them to the biomedical studies.
LC-MS-based method development for studying protein PTMs. Protein PTMs have profound impact on structure, function and stability of proteins. Effective separation and enrichment methods are indispensable for studying the modified forms of proteins present in a cell or tissue. Due to the fact that each PTM group is structurally different, there is no common method suitable for analyzing numerous PTMs (over 200 PTMs have been reported). Distinctive structure and properties of each group may allow us to design a specific method to study the protein modification. The developed methods will also be applied to biomedical research.
Protein function, cell signaling and cancer. A cell responds to a plethora of intra- and extra-cellular signals. Ineffective or improper signal transduction may result in human diseases, such as cancer. Signal transductions are often carried out by protein modifications. Proteins and their PTM changes at the different cellular states may be comprehensively analyzed by quantitative MS-based proteomics methods, which can aid us in the understanding of protein function, cell signaling pathways, and molecular implications of drug treatment. Thus, it is possible to find novel disease biomarkers, to identify new drug targets and to contribute to the selection of better targeted agents on an individual basis, which will result in a potential application in personalized medicine.
Cell metabolism. Cell metabolism is directly related to many diseases and a cancer cell has notably abnormal metabolism. The metabolism network is very intricate and complicated; hence investigation at the whole proteome level may bring us new insights. Furthermore, the change of metabolites and interactions between enzymes and metabolites may also be monitored by MS. Our research attempts to understand how proteins regulate the generation of metabolites, and how metabolites affect metabolic pathways. We are striving to unveil new regulatory mechanisms of cell metabolism, and to advance our knowledge of abnormal metabolism of cancer cells. A further understanding of the mechanistic links between cellular metabolism and signal pathways may ultimately lead to new drug discovery and benefit for human health.