and Abstract Overview and Career Goals: My career goal is to lead an interdisciplinary research program at a major US university, which will combine components of nanomaterials, tissue engineering, and bioimaging research to create new therapeutic and diagnostic tools. This K99/R00 application has two components that will help me achieve my goal: 1) At the research level, it outlines a strategy for the development of functional nanoscale mimetics of proteoglycans, a class of cellular function regulators, and their integration into a microarray discovery platform to generate materials for biomedical use. 2) The training portion of this application describes the steps I will take to acquire the necessary skills in molecular and cell biology, nanoimaging, and professional and career development I will need to build such an interdisciplinary research program and launch a successful career as an independent scientist and scholar. The R00 award will provide an important start-up support for my team, while we establish the research projects outlined in this application. The preliminary data we will generate with the help of this award will be vital as we seek future research support. Background: My academic and research experience makes me well positioned to develop the cross- disciplinary research program outlined in this application. My graduate research focused on the development of new chemical reactions and the application of these transformations in the construction of complex organic molecules. As a postdoctoral fellow, I have used my synthetic skills to create a new class of nanoscale mimetics of cell-surface glycoproteins for microarray applications. During this work, I became familiar with carbohydrate and polymer synthesis, microarray fabrication, and a number of methods for surface and soft nanomaterials characterization. In addition, I have helped establish and run a synthetic laboratory at the Molecular Foundry, gaining an invaluable experience for the future, when I start my own research laboratory. Research: The attached research proposal outlines the design of nanoscale surrogates of proteoglycans (which I term "neoPGs") and their use as cellular function modulators in tissue engineering scaffolds, as imaging agents for early cancer detection, and as novel macromolecular templates for nanocrystal growth and nanocomposites assembly. Proteoglycans perform all these functions in living organisms;however, harnessing their unique capabilities for medical purposes has so far proved challenging. Their structural complexity, compositional and functional heterogeneity, and non-template biosynthesis limits their applicability in biomedical research. My proposal outlines a simple synthetic strategy that translates the basic architectural features responsible for proteoglycans'biological function into nanoscale polymeric neoPGs. Taking advantage of the technological power of microarrays, and my skills in building them, my team will construct a "neoPG chip", to rapidly interrogate a library of neoPG structures for their ability to exert desirable biological properties. In three specific projects, we will demonstrate neoPGs'broad utility and their potential for biomedical research. Training: The K99 training component of this award will be critical during my transition to the independent phase of my academic career. The biomedical focus of the research I intend to pursue necessitates that I become proficient in the topics and techniques of molecular and cell biology. The proposed training under the mentorship of Prof. Bertozzi will help me attain these skills. The nanoimaging techniques I will acquire through collaboration with Dr. James De Yoreo at the Molecular Foundry will enable my research team to design materials that match the dimensions of biological building blocks and explore new ways to engineer biological interfaces. The numerous professional and career development resources available through LBNL and UC Berkeley and my stellar mentoring committee assembled from experts in molecular biology, biomaterials, nanoscience, and tissue engineering will be an invaluable asset, while I seek a faculty position in the US and as I launch my own independent career. Environment: As a member of the Bertozzi lab, I will have access to the state-of-the-art facilities at the Molecular Foundry and the resources and instrumentation of UC Berkeley's College of Chemistry. The scientific excellence and diversity of the Bertozzi research team, its well-established record of high-impact contributions to the fields of chemical and molecular biology, and the highly collaborative atmosphere Prof. Bertozzi fosters in her group will facilitate my rapid progress in molecular and cell biology training. Collaboration with Dr. James DeYoreo at the Molecular Foundry and the expertise of the Foundry's scientific staff will provide an important support, as I undertake my training in nanomaterials imaging and characterization. Finally, UC Berkeley's renowned academic and scientific community provides a vibrant environment, in which to exchange ideas, forge collaborations, and explore new frontiers in science and will undoubtedly contribute to my professional growth.
Proteoglycans (PGs) are an important component of the matrix that envelops living cells. One of their roles is to inform cells'internal decision-making (e.g., when to divide, differentiate, grow, migrate, die, etc.) by presenting them with external biochemical cues. PGs hold great promise as biomaterials for medical applications;however, due to their structural complexity and synthetic inaccessibility, they have been largely neglected. The proposal in this application outlines the design and synthesis of a novel class of nanoscale PG mimetics, neoProteoglycans, for applications in regenerative medicine and bioimaging.
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