476298 Protein Self-Assembly Toward Engineering of Biofunctional Nanomaterials

Sunday, November 13, 2016
Continental 4 & 5 (Hilton San Francisco Union Square)
Won Min Park, Department of Biology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA

Research Interests: Making nanomaterials directly from proteins can enable spatial and quantitative controls of protein molecules at the nanoscale. Such controls are expected to extend the utility of proteins through manipulation of physical properties such as stability, molecular transport, and specific binding interactions. Using fundamentals of protein assembly, I plan to run research projects that focus on (1) design of self-assembling protein modules, (2) fundamental study of protein assembly processes, and (3) application of biofunctional protein nanomaterials for nanomedicine, biosensors, and nano-biocatalysis.

Naturally-derived or artificially designed protein motifs present characteristic structural and physical properties, which can be harnessed to design self-assembling modules. For examples, modular combination of protein motifs results in self-assembly of protein suprastructures with various morphologies which include spheres [1], vesicles [2], sheets, porous structures [3], and artificial nano-shapes that are unprecedented in nature. I previously demonstrated protein self-assembly approaches using simple protein motifs such as coiled coils, elastin-like polypeptides, and artificial random coils. I will present protein assembly strategies to retain both self-assembled morphology and biological functionality of protein nanomaterials. To incorporate biological functionality, I will develop functional protein modules. In combination with computational design of protein structures, experimental characterization to engineer self-assembly processes and biological functionality will be discussed. In addition, I will present design strategies that relate nanostructural characteristics and specific applications.

Teaching Interests: At the graduate level, I plan to design a class for protein nanomaterials, which is at the interface between protein engineering and nanotechnology. While I provide knowledge about fundamentals of protein engineering, biochemistry, and nanotechnology, I will focus on teaching students to develop their ability to solve engineering problems in the interdisciplinary area. Also, I am interested in teaching undergraduate chemical engineering classes, using examples of biological systems at the nanoscale. My research background on protein self-assembly covers topics in chemical engineering, such as thermodynamics and kinetics of biomolecules. I would like to introduce examples of engineering problems in bio- and nanotechnology.

[1] W. M. Park and J. A. Champion, Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., 2013, 52, 8098-8101.
[2] W. M. Park and J. A. Champion, J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2014, 136, 17906-17909.
[3] W. M. Park, C. M. Yee, J. A. Champion, J. Mater. Chem. B, 2016, 4, 1633-1639.

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