Marcos Pires is an Assistant Professor of Chemistry at Lehigh. Below he discusses some of current work of his lab.
In many instances, human pathology can be directly tied to the proteins that reside out the outside, on the surface, and within human cells. This in itself should not be surprising. After all, proteins are well established as acting as the workhorses of cells. Not only are proteins responsible for a high volume of chemical transformation that need to take place for cells to remain viable, they also have a series of additional roles in structuring biomacromolecules, inter- and intra-cellular communication, and storage. Through all these functions, diversity within the protein matrix becomes essential. After all, there are only 20-22k genes that encode human proteins in the human genome. The question that naturally arises is: how do human cells perform all the necessary and incredibly diverse tasks with such a limited set of building block?
During the past decade, intensive research in this area has demonstrated that following their biosynthesis, the structure of proteins is only an initial template. Proteins can be thought of as strings (of variable lengths) made with 20 building blocks. These building blocks are amino acids. All proteins in nature are made from the same 20 building blocks. Depending on one’s view, 20 building blocks to make all the proteins in the natural world (from complex human cells down to microbes) may seem like a small and insufficient number. In some ways, this may be true. One possible way to expand on the make-up of these building blocks may be to change them after the string has been assembled. And this is exactly what happens to many human cells. Following their assembly out of the biosynthetic machinery (ribosomes), they are heavily decorated with a number of chemical modifications. These modifications (or post-translational modifications) serve to diversify both the structure and function of proteins. Due to their role in controlling protein function, the aberrant modification of proteins has been heavily implicated in a number of human diseases.
My research group is interested in discovering modifications that were not previously described in this area. We rely on fundamental chemical principles, first and foremost, to evaluate amino acid modifications that have been discovered previously. Next, we predict what combinations of chemical modifications could be tolerated based on the chemistry involved. From this analysis, we concluded that two well known modifications (methylation and acetylation) should be tolerated within the same amino acid. In other words, it may be possible that proteins are getting doubly modified at the same site via two unique pathways. By mapping this out, we predict that we may unmask a previously unappreciated signal mode within cells. Furthermore, these modifications may play roles in the development and progression of human diseases.
The Humanities Center welcomes proposals for one faculty summer research grant of $6,000. The grant will support a faculty member’s pursuit of a humanistic research project or creative activity. One faculty grant will be awarded for the summer of 2016.
Any tenured or tenure-track faculty member in the humanities (broadly defined) at Lehigh who has not received a grant (external or internal) for the same summer and who will not be teaching during the summer is eligible to apply.
The grant recipient will share the outcome of his/her research activities with members of the Lehigh community in Fall 2016. There is no set format for how the grant recipient will share his/her work, and candidates should explain their plans for facilitating meaningful interaction on the subject of their research. In the past, grant winners have made formal presentations, offered workshops, done readings, and put together exhibitions.
In considering applications, the Humanities Center Committee will evaluate the merit and significance of the proposed research project as well as the candidate’s plans for sharing it with the Lehigh community. The Humanities Center will announce the grant awardee on or before April 29th.
Proposals should include:
- 1 page summary of the project the candidate will develop. This statement should explain the research topic and its scholarly significance to an audience of scholars working in fields across the humanities.
- 1 page explanation of how the candidate plans to share the results of his or her work with the Lehigh community.
- A statement indicating that the candidate has not received any other grants for the same summer and that s/he is not teaching over the summer at Lehigh or at any other institution.
Faculty Research Grants (FRG) provide funding of up to $6,000 for research for conduct, completion and expansion of research projects. Priority is given to projects most likely to enable development of new projects and programs, expand applicants’ research programs beyond their current scope, or enable ongoing programs to have expanded impact. Applications are due on February 12, no later than 5 PM EST.
FIG grants provide up to $30,000 to support new research projects, take existing research in promising new directions, or otherwise expand research programs beyond their current scope. Both efforts led by an individual faculty member and collaborative efforts are invited. Applications are due on February 29, no later than 5 PM EST.
Collaborative Opportunity (CORE) Grants provide up to $60,000 for establishment and growth of productive and competitive multi-faculty research programs. The program supports faculty teams that, through their combinations of perspectives and capabilities, can distinguish themselves in the academic community, with partners and constituents in society, and with funding sources, for the novelty, relevance and value of their work. Applications are due on March 25, no later than 5 PM EST.
Guidelines, with application instructions, can be found here: http://research.cc.lehigh.edu/finding-funding
Questions about any of these programs can be addressed to VPResearch@lehigh.edu.
Many everyday tasks involve decisions about how to act on objects in our environment. While most of these actions unfold in a seamless fashion, a complex orchestration of mental processes including attention, decision making, and action control occur to guide our behavior.
MRI/CREF Idea Exchange. To encourage discussion among those interested in either program, we will hold an MRI/CREF Idea Exchange on October 12, Noon – 1:30 pm, Williams Hall 070. Lunch will be provided.
The Idea Exchange provides an opportunity for those considering submission to identify colleagues who share instrumentation needs, to identify instruments and configurations that would serve the largest number of Lehigh investigators, and to obtain collegial feedback that may strengthen submissions to NSF. Please RSVP to Sujata Jagota at VPResearch@lehigh.edu no later than October 5 indicating interest in presenting, a provisional title and list of likely participants. Attendance is welcomed whether or not presenting.
For more information on the programs, click Continue Reading.
Our Accelerator grant program supports teams of Lehigh investigators in developing multi-investigator research programs in particularly promising areas. Based on a team’s identification of a major, specific area of opportunity and ways in which it can excel in that area, these grants provide significant flexibility in use of the grant funds.
We are offering a workshop for those considering applying for an Accelerator grant, or those simply wishing to know more about the program. The workshop will be held on Tuesday, September 29th, from noon to 1:30pm in Rauch Business Center 293. For catering purposes, we will appreciate an RSVP to VPResearch@lehigh.edu by Thursday, September 24th.