Bio-X SIGF Graduate Student Fellow

Awarded in 2023
Home Department: Chemical Engineering
Faculty Advisors: : Daniel Jarosz (Chemical & Systems Biology, Developmental Biology) and Jian Qin (Chemical Engineering)

Research Title: Dissecting the Molecular Grammar of Prion Material States

Research Description: Prions are self-templating, infectious proteins associated with multiple neurodegenerative diseases. Proteins containing prion-like domains exhibit a spectrum of material states within the cell, ranging from solid fibers to liquid and gel-like droplets. Currently, little is known about how protein sequence determines the formation of and traversal between these material states. To address these questions, Theo proposes to develop an experimental and computational platform for studying the rheology of human prions. Experimentally, Theo will develop a microarray platform for performing linear rheology on prion assemblies. Additionally, he will use coarsegrain polymer simulations to investigate how sequence and folding influence the mechanical response of prion condensates as they age. This project will provide novel insights into how the material properties of prions contribute to their infectivity and resistance to degradation.