Department: Molecular and Cellular Biology

Jennifer Geddes-McAlister

We are interested in characterizing the mechanisms of pathogenesis, adaptation, and survival in fungal and bacterial microbes from a systems biology perspective through mass spectrometry-based quantitative proteomics. Specifically, research in the lab centres around the following areas:
1. Systems biology to elucidate microbial proteome dynamics and interactions;
2. Mechanistic characterization of pathogenic proteins; and
3. Mass spectrometry-based proteomics for drug discovery and repurposing.
Our long-term goals emphasize the utilization of mass spectrometry-based proteomics to fundamentally understand differential microbial adaptation and survival strategies and to integrate a novel systems biology platform for investigation of diverse biological systems.

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Melissa Perreault

In our laboratory we use multiple advanced techniques to take an integrative approach to research that involves combining cell and systems research with animal behaviour to help us gain insights into the mechanisms that underlie neurological disorders. At present our primary research focuses are in depression, schizophrenia, autism, and Alzheimer’s disease, with a specific interest in understanding sex differences in neuropathology and treatment response. To achieve this we use pharmacological, pharmacogenetic and behavioural techniques combined with electrophysiology and computational algorithms to evaluate how neuronal network communication is impaired is these models, and to determine the cell signaling pathways responsible for the network disruption.

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Wei Zhang

First, we have systematically generated inhibitors and activators for E3 ubiquitin ligases to discover new enzyme catalytic mechanism and new substrates. We continue to develop synthetic peptides and proteins to delineate biochemical mechanisms of E3 ubiquitin ligases.
Second, we showed that structure-based protein engineering enables development of anti-viral reagents for Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) coronavirus. Now we started engineering post-translational modifications to probe and rewire DNA damage signaling for cancer therapeutics.
Finally, we created molecular tools to increase CRISPR-Cas9 genome-editing efficiency. Now we are developing new tools as "off-switch" for CRISPR-based gene editing through targeted protein degradation.

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John F. Dawson

Prof. Dawson studies the impact of inherited changes in heart muscle proteins to understand what is going wrong in patients with heart diseases so that we can develop specific strategies to treat the problem. His research takes the research from molecules to organisms, studying the biochemistry of proteins and the development and physiology of zebrafish with changes in their hearts reflecting those seen in people with diseases.
Prof. Dawson's education research focuses on learning outcome assessment in general and the development, implementation, and assessment of critical thinking through higher education science curricula in particular.

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Steffen Graether

The main goal of our research program is to understand how the intrinsically disordered late embryogenesis abundant (LEA) proteins are able to protect plants from damage caused by cold, drought and high salinity. Our main focus has been on dehydrins, a group of abiotic stress response proteins that have been shown to protect plants from damage caused by drought and cold. Dehydrins are interesting in that they are composed of a variable number of conserved motifs that appear to have roles in protection of proteins, membranes and DNA from abiotic damage, as well as roles in localization.

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Georgina Cox

The Cox lab aims to gain a better understanding of the molecular underpinnings of resistance mechanisms. Specifically, we study bacterial efflux systems, which will provide insight into their physiological functions and origins and will also support future drug discovery efforts and antibiotic stewardship. In addition, recognizing the need for innovation in the search for new antibacterial agents, we are exploring novel approaches to control bacterial infections by investigating the inhibition of bacterial adhesion to host cells.

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