Biochemistry Graduate Program
Dept. of Biochemistry

Faculty Advisor: Michael R. Sussman


I am interested in studying diatom cell wall synthesis. In order to accomplish this, I will make extensive use of a number of high throughput technologies to overcome current limits in the field. In the process, I hope to advance the state of genomic science in general by using tools such as gene chip microarrays and mass spectrometry. The genomic science training grant program will provide me with the support of a multidisciplinary community capable of assisting me as I inventively encounter research set backs.

Simultaneously, I am interested in tackling cell wall synthesis from a protein side. The silaffins are highly post-translationally modified peptides believed to be responsible for silica deposition. Different diatom species have a unique post-translational modification profile. Silaffin modifications are necessary for silica precipitation in vitro. Clearly, an inclusive understanding of diatom cell wall synthesis would not be complete without considering proteins as well as gene expression The microarray analysis screen is likely to identify many genes as potentially important to cell wall synthesis. The high throughput technique, mass spectrometry will be used to rapidly analyze the components of fractions or extracts to identify what is or is not present. This ability to examine in detail the composition of an experimental organism or solution using mass spectrometry will provide data far exceeding that available using acrylamide gel electrophoresis. The Biotechnology Center mass Spectrometry Facility is closely with and adjacent to the Sussman lab. This will allow the high level of equipment access necessary to fully utilize this technique.

Effectively tackling diatom cell wall syntheses will demand the use of a diverse range of approaches including the powerful but highly complex techniques, gene chip microarrays and mass spectrometry. I will benefit from a diverse range of skills, backgrounds and specialties present in the genomic science community in order to effectively advance my research interests. As my training progresses, I will be able to add my own unique perspective, skill and ideas to the community.

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