Awarded in 2015
Home Department: Biochemistry
Faculty Advisors: James Spudich (Biochemistry) and Beth Pruitt (Mechanical Engineering)
Research Title: Modulating the heart's contractility by small molecule drugs and cardiomyopathy mutations in single molecules of human cardiac myosin
Research Description: Mutations in cardiac myosin cause hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, the most common inherited disease of the heart muscle that can lead to heart failure and sudden cardiac death, yet the underlying disease mechanisms are unclear. Cardiac myosin is the force-producing molecular motor driving heart muscle contraction, so mutations in myosin may change fundamental parameters of force production. Chao measures these parameters for single mutant and wildtype myosin molecules using the optical trap. The rationale is that once it is known how mutations affect these parameters, myosin force production may be re-normalized pharmacologically, creating drugs that treat the cardiomyopathy at the source.
WHERE IS SHE NOW?
Chao is a postdoc at Stanford at the Lawrence Livermore National Lab.