Bio-X Graduate Student Fellow

Awarded in 2019
Home Department: Genetics
Faculty Advisors: Alice Ting (Genetics and Biology) and Michael Bassik (Genetics)

Research Title: An Integrated Protein Engineering and Functional Genomics Approach to Investigate the Insertion Pathway of Mitochondrial Tail-Anchored Proteins

Research Description: Mitochondrial tail-anchored proteins are featured in a variety of key cellular processes, such as apoptosis and mitochondrial fission/fusion dynamics, which play important roles in cancer pathology. Understanding the proper trafficking of these proteins is critical for understanding their function. However, identification of the machinery which regulates the localization of these proteins is an endeavor that has been hampered by technological limitations for over two decades. Robert has proposed a new methodology to identify these factors by integrating high-throughput functional genomics and protein engineering to do genome-wide screening of protein localization within live cells. This methodology will utilize a newly developed tool called “SPARK” (“Specific Protein Association tool giving transcriptional Readout with rapid Kinetics”) that capitalizes on fluorescent protein expression while also expanding the capabilities of CRISPR gene-editing techniques, thus addressing a key objective in the development of genetic screening technology.


Robert is a postdoctoral fellow in the lab of Professor Dimitri Krainc, MD, PhD, Chair of the Department of the Neurology in the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University.