Humans are made of over a million proteins that perform crucial functions to maintain life. These proteins, however, can bind to small molecules in our cells and perform various new functions.
Biomedical and chemical engineering professor Shikha Nangia and her research team have received a three-year grant from the National Science Foundation to better understand how the modification of proteins effects human health. They will use computer modeling and simulations to study changes in protein structure due to the attachment of the small molecules.
“Our group has studied protein through computer simulations for more than eight years. This grant will allow us to focus on how modified proteins affect human health,” says Nangia. “The funding will allow us to investigate scientific questions that have not yet been answered.”
This multidisciplinary project provides an excellent opportunity to train graduate students with different academic backgrounds, such as engineering, chemistry, biology, and computer science. The project will provide scientific training to undergraduate students through a cohort-based approach that will engage a team of 5–6 undergraduates in a ten-week summer research project.
The project will focus on training a diverse community of students from underrepresented minority students for graduate school. Students will be equipped with research experiences, fundamental knowledge, and professional skills to transition to doctoral programs in STEM disciplines successfully.