With support from the Macromolecular, Supramolecular, and Nanochemistry (MSN) Program in the Division of Chemistry, Professor Kirshenbaum at New York University is studying a family of ?peptoid? molecules that mimic natural proteins. Peptoids are peptide-mimics but with the side chain connected to the nitrogen of the peptide backbone. Because this unique backbone structure, they often are more stable in biological systems and can be used for therapeutic applications. Professor Kirshenbaum's project explores how organizing the peptoids into cyclic structures may enable the design of new molecules with elaborate structures and valuable functions. The broader impacts of the project include collaborations with researchers on the chemical biology of cancer and creation of intellectual property for commercial development of bioactive peptidomimetics. Students contributing to the project are trained at the interface of bio-organic chemistry and biomedicine. Professor Kirshenbaum provides valuable training for a broad range of students including a project suitable for high school students. Professor Kirshenbaum makes TV appearances and appears in social media that informs the general public about the properties and functions of biological molecules.

Peptoids are peptidomimetic oligomers composed of N-substituted glycine units. A variety of biomimetic properties have recently been described for peptoids. In order to further develop functional peptoids, the project is pursuing new strategies to enforce their conformational ordering. The research establish predictable relationships between the sequence, the structure, and the function of peptoid oligomers. In particular, the project explores the use of macrocyclic constraints to dictate the folding of peptoids for diverse applications. These applications include complex metal-associated, self-assembling materials and peptoid macrocycles to antagonize protein-protein interactions of biomedical importance. Establishing improved computational strategies for prediction of peptoid macrocycle structures is a critical component of the research plan. Teaching modules introduce peptidomimetic enzyme inhibitors to undergraduate biochemistry laboratory classes.

This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Chemistry (CHE)
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Suk-Wah Tam-Chang
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New York University
New York
United States
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