A major goal in the lab is engineering new peptides and proteins that can be used for therapy, diagnostics, imaging agents and to control and understand biological systems.
To do this, we use a process called mRNA display, that was invented by the PI (Roberts). This method enables us to generate vast libraries of polypeptides containing as many as 10 trillion individual sequences. We use these libraries in selection and directed evolution experiments to find novel ligands against interesting protein, nucleic acid, and small molecule targets.
Research in the group spans multiple disciplines and students in the lab have earned Ph.D. degrees in Chemistry, Chemical Engineering, Molecular Biology, and Cellular and Developmental Biology. Broadly, we are interested in bioengineering and biochemical research that improves human health. Most recently, we have been working in two major areas: 1) developing new cancer therapies/diagnostics and 2) creating new tools to study neurobiology. Much of our specific work deals with protein-protein and protein-nucleic acid interactions
We take pride that many of the group alumni have continued on to faculty and research positions at other universities including MIT, Scripps Research Institute, University of British Columbia, University of Southern California, and the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.
We are also fortunate to collaborate with many outstanding labs at USC and elsewhere, to use our designed peptides and proteins in neuronal studies, novel nanosensor devices, structural biology, and to visualize and treat cancer in a targeted fashion.