Dr. Audette’s research focuses on understanding how microorganisms utilize sophisticated purpose-built nanomachines for transferring genetic material and effector molecules across membranes, and facilitate adherence to a variety of surfaces. Understanding of how these nanosystems are assembled from their component proteins, as well as their effects on infection and the development of resistance strategies, is critical to the development of more streamlined approaches to dealing with infection and drug resistance in pathogenic organisms. In addition, understanding how these systems function at a structural level is central to the development of biological nanosystems for applications as biosensors, bio-fuel cells and biosensors. Dr. Audette has recently edited the first two volumes of the Pan Stanford Series on Nanomedicine, the Handbooks of Clinical Nanomedicine: Nanoparticles, Imaging, Therapy, and Clinical Applications (Volume 1) & Law, Business, Regulation, Safety, and Risk (Volume 2), has previously served as co-editor-in-chief of the Journal of Bionanoscience (2007–2010), and is currently a Subject Editor of structural chemistry and crystallography for the journal FACETS.
Dr. Bayfield’s research focuses on the function of conserved RNA metabolism mechanisms in both general cellular processes and in adaptations to stress. A major research focus in his lab is the La antigen, an abundant factor which functions by binding and protecting certain RNA transcripts, such as pre-tRNAs, during their processing. La antigen has also been implicated in translational regulation, cancer progression, viral pathogenesis, and has been shown to act as an RNA chaperone. Using human cells, yeast genetic screens and various biochemical techniques, Dr. Bayfield investigates the mechanisms by which the La and La related proteins act in RNA metabolism and human disease.
Dr. Hili's research is inspired by nature and operates at the interface of chemistry and biology. His lab efforts rely upon expertise in synthetic organic chemistry, biochemistry, and molecular biology to mimic the approaches nature uses to solve complex problems with simple solutions. Our approach to science requires a diverse background of researchers from various scientific disciplines, generating a collaborative atmosphere for students, while garnering an expanded knowledge of the biological and chemical sciences. Our inspiration from nature is the use of DNA as a central blueprint. In the Hili lab, the molecules that we study are directly generated and linked to a DNA fragment that encodes their structure (i.e., phenotype is linked to genotype). By harnessing the power of in vitro selection, coupled with advances in high-throughput DNA sequencing, we can rapidly analyze, en masse, libraries containing millions of different molecules and identify those with desired functional properties (e.g., molecular recognition or catalysis). We apply our technologies toward areas in organic synthesis and chemical biology, including drug discovery, small-molecule catalyst discovery, aptamer and antibody mimetics development, and cell-surface biomarker profiling.
Dr. Hudak’s research strives to understand how plants adapt to environmental stress. Her work focuses on the regulation and characterization of glycosidases, plant-encoded enzymes that remove purine bases from various cellular RNA substrates, to alter gene expression. Several of these proteins exhibit antiviral activity, and Dr. Hudak’s group has recently sequenced the genome of a non-model plant that synthesizes a glycosidase. Through bioinformatics analysis of genome, transcriptome and small RNAs, her group is assembling genetic control maps and validating patterns with protein-nucleic acid interaction studies. This knowledge will help to improve pathogen resistance in crop plants, given concern over climate change and its impact on food production. Dr. Hudak’s research program is funded by NSERC, and she is the recipient of awards from the Canada Foundation for Innovation, Ontario Innovation Trust and a Premier’s Research Excellence Award. Dr. Hudak has served as NSERC Discovery Evaluation Group member, Committee #1501: Genes, Cells and Molecules and is currently Chair of the Biochemistry Stream for this committee.
Dr. Johnson is an expert in understanding how functional nucleic acid molecules work. His laboratory uses nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) techniques to determine the three dimensional structures of DNA and RNA molecules and understand how they interact with proteins and small molecules. To complement the structural work, detailed biophysical studies are performed in his laboratory to gain functional insights into the biochemical mechanisms studied. As a model system for discovering how functional nucleic acids work, his laboratory is investigating how the cocaine-binding DNA aptamer operates.
Sergey N. Krylov (Director)
Dr. Krylov is a York University Chair in Bioanalytical Chemistry. He pioneered novel tools for study of biomolecular interactions in vitro and in live cells, termed Kinetic Capillary Electrophoresis (KCE) and Chemical Cytometry. KCE is dubbed an “Analytical Swiss Army knife”, and can be used for studying kinetics and thermodynamics of biomolecular interactions, for generation of “smart” affinity ligands from complex mixtures, as well as for application of such “smart” ligands for quantitative analysis of biomolecules. Chemical Cytometry is a novel bioanalytical tool which facilitates studies of biomolecular interactions at the single-cell level. Currently, the experimental work in Dr. Krylov's lab is performed on all levels of complexity, from in vitro and in silica studies, to tissue and cell-culture work, and in vivo animal models.
Dr. McDermott’s interests lie with the orchestration of transcription during development of striated muscle. These studies involve a proteome level analysis of transcriptional regulatory proteins to determine how their activity is controlled by signal transduction pathways. Apart from standard techniques of molecular and cellular biology, his work integrates the use of mass spectrometry for the dissection of protein complexes and the characterization of post translational protein modifications. Future work is aimed at combining chromatin level modifications with the control of gene transcription. Dr. McDermott has served on the CIHR Institute of Musculoskeletal Health and Arthritis (IMHA) advisory board and is currently a member of the Cell Physiology peer review grant selection committee for CIHR.
Dr. Peng is a Tier 1 York Research Chair in Women’s Reproductive Health. Research in her lab focuses on how signaling molecules control female reproduction and how dysregulation of this process is associated with diseases. Her lab uses a variety of tools in cell and molecular biology, biochemistry, physiology, and bioinformatics to investigate how growth factors, hormones, and microRNAs regulate oocyte maturation and placental development and how their dysregulation contribute to the pathogenesis of preeclampsia. In addition, her lab studies the molecular mechanisms underlying the development of ovarian cancer. Dr. Peng is a recipient of a Women’s Faculty Award from NSERC (1995-2000), a Premier’s Research Excellence Award from Ontario Ministry of Energy, Science & Technology (2001-2006), a mid-career award from CIHR/Ontario Women’s Health Council (2005-2010). Dr. Peng is currently an associate editor for the Journal of Ovarian Research and the journal of Frontier in Endocrinology.
Dr. White’s laboratory studies how RNA-RNA interactions are used by viruses to regulate viral genome replication and gene expression. RNA-protein interactions are also investigated to determine how such communications control virus replication, protein translation, and virus assembly. These processes are studied at the atomic, biochemical, molecular, and cellular levels using a variety of techniques and in vitro and in vivo systems. The knowledge produced by Dr. White’s research will be used for generation of controllable viral vectors, the development of more efficient and flexible protein expression systems, and for uncovering novel anti-viral targets. Dr. White is a recipient of a Premier’s Research Excellence Award (Ontario Ministry of Energy, Science & Technology, 2000), a Steacie Memorial Fellowship (NSERC, 2005-2007) and a Canada Research Chair (2002-2012). He currently serves on the Editorial Boards of Virology and Journal of Virology, and is an Associate Editor for Frontiers in Microbiology.
Dr. Wilson employs advanced Mass Spectrometry (MS) and Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) spectroscopy methods to uncover structures of proteins in their active conformations, which often do not coincide with the shapes of the proteins in their common, lowest energy states. To detect proteins in their various states of motion, Dr. Wilson makes use of microfluidic devices with online coupling to ESI-MS, allowing for the measurements to be performed very rapidly and in a high throughput manner. Another aspect of Dr. Wilson’s research deals with understanding the formation of amyloids, a specific form of protein aggregates that are implicated in such diseases as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Dr. Wilson’s group is carrying out high resolution studies of the interactions leading to amyloidosis in the Transthyretin peptide TTR105-115. His approach involves the use of Saturation Transfer Difference (STD) NMR spectroscopy to map out the specific residues most tightly associated with amyloid formation. Such fundamental research into the mechanisms of amyloidosis is a critical first step to the rational design of amyloid inhibitor drugs.