Dr. Cegelski's research program integrates chemistry, biology, and physics to investigate the assembly and function of macromolecular and whole-cell systems. The genomics and proteomics revolutions have been enormously successful in generating full genome sequences for an increasing number of organisms and in predicting and determining the structures of a steadily increasing number of proteins. In essence, these data provide crucial “parts lists” for biological systems. Yet, formidable challenges exist in generating complete descriptions of how the parts function and assemble into macromolecular complexes and whole-cell factories. They are inspired by the need for novel and unconventional approaches to solve these outstanding problems in biology.
They employ biophysical and biochemical tools, develop new assays and protocols, and are designing new strategies using solid-state NMR to examine bacterial amyloid fibers, bacterial cell walls and biofilms, and membrane proteins. They would like to understand at a molecular and atomic level how cells self-assemble fascinating extracellular structures and how bacteria use these building blocks to construct organized biofilm architectures. They are also engaged in identifying small molecules to interfere with these processes and in understanding the modes of action of newly discovered antibiotics and anti-virulence compounds.