Bradley L. Nilsson
Assistant Professor of Chemistry
Ph.D. 2003, University of Wisconsin, Madison
RESEARCH INTERESTS Bioorganic chemistry and chemical biology, protein engineering and quaternary structure, amyloid peptides and proteins, chemical synthesis of proteins.
During the last year the NILSSON group has continued eorts to understand the interactions that lead to amyloid formation in self-assembly peptides. Our work has focused on: 1) the charac- terization of noncovalent side-chain interactions that give rise to protein aggregation and bril formation, with an emphasis on the Alzheimer’s disease amyloid- β peptide and on designed β-sheet forming peptides; 2) the design of proteins that self-assemble un- der reductive control; 3) the development of new methods for the chemical synthesis of proteins using oligonucleotide-templated strategies. is research has spawned new research projects, includ- ing the exploration of small molecule self-assembly for hydrogel formation. An amino acid-derived moiety was discovered that undergoes rapid self-assembly in water to promote gelation and we are exploring biomedical applications of these materials for wound healing and cell growth. In addition to the DuPont Young Professor Award and an Alzheimer’s Association New Investigator Grant, the Nilsson group was successful in applying for a Doctoral New Investigator Grant from the ACS Petroleum Research Fund.
Membership in the Nilsson group has continued to grow and the existing members have been very productive in the last year. Timur Senguen has focused on probing the self-assembly of an amyloid-β derived peptide by incorporating hexauoroleucine and has also made signicant progress in understanding the thermodynamics of hydrophobic vs. aromatic interactions in this peptide. Charlie Bowerman is studying the self-assembly of designed peptides that contain nonnatural amino acids and how to control the self-assem- bly of these peptides using a reductive trigger. Todd Doran con- tinues to work on templated peptide ligation and photocontrol of amyloid-β aggregation, and has also expanded his research eort to include a study of the diabetes type II peptide, the islet amyloid polypeptide. Derek Ryan is probing the eect that highly uori- nated aromatic amino acids have on amyloid-β aggregation and has discovered that small, uorinated molecules under highly ecient self-assembly give hydrogel materials. A new postdoc, Beth Ander- son, has joined the Nilsson group and has initiated several research projects, including an eort to design MRI contrast agents to be used in the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. Beth recently wel- comed the addition of new daughter, Evelyn, to her family has well! John DiMaio (Alfred University) and Ria Swanekamp (SUNY Brockport) joined the Nilsson group in the last year as well. John is studying peptide self-assembly and preparing novel nonnatural amino acids to incorporate into self-assembling peptides and Ria is working on new synthetic methodology for the catalytic asym-
metric synthesis of amino acids. Naomi Lee took a brief leave of ab- sence last year during which she joined the Army National Guard, requiring her to undergo basic training and ocer’s training. She’s expected to recommence her Ph.D. studies in the fall.
NADIA BYRNES B.S. ’09, JOHN OAKFORD B.A. ’09, and CELINE LEUNG B.S. ’09 are three undergraduates who have worked in the lab over the last year and all have recently gradu- ated. Nadia will be attending Ohio State in the fall to study food chemistry, John will be in Rochester for one more year as part of the Take 5 program, and Celine will be applying to medical school.
ey are all very talented and have contributed productively to
a variety of projects in the group. We’re condent in their future success! Sam Anderson, a sophomore who took Chemistry 172Q from Brad (and excelled) last year has joined the lab and is com- pleting REU research during the summer studying small molecule self-assembly.
Brad once again taught the second semester of uest Organic Chemistry (CHM 172Q). e students have continued to be en- gaging and exciting to work with. is year, Brad le Bioorganic Chemistry behind and added another uest class to his teaching responsibilities, Chemistry 173Q, the rst semester uest organic chemistry lab. e lab course represented a new challenge and provided a great opportunity to meet the uest students prior to 172Q in the Spring semester.
As research in the Nilsson group has matured, life has become very busy. A summer of meetings (four and counting), grant-writing (three and counting), and paper-writing has kept us all working hard. We look forward to another year of progress.
Brad Nilsson and sophomore Sam Anderson