ChE Seminar – “Coupling Molecular Design to Structure and Activity of Sequence-Defined Macromolecules” by Dr. Chris Alabi (Cornell University)
Host: Dr. Benjamin Keith Keitz
Control over primary sequence and structure is critical to the development of new functional materials such as catalysts, synthetic affinity ligands and therapeutics, sequence responsive scaffolds, programmable biomaterials and much more. Motivated by these opportunities and the need for sequence-control and structural diversity in polymer research, we present a versatile methodology for the assembly of a new class of sequence-defined macromolecules called oligoTEAs. With sequence-control in hand, we are currently working to establish sensitive solution-phase structural characterization methods to determine their conformational dynamics and to formulate sequence-structure relationships for biological applications. We focus on applications that leverage the advantages of these novel macromolecules such as increased serum stability, precise control of backbone and pendant group sequence, and a large scope of chemically diverse monomers. Current applications under exploration in our lab include the design of cleavable linkers to quantitate intracellular cleavage kinetics, development of novel sequences and conjugates for intracellular drug delivery, and the design of membrane selective antibacterial compounds. In this talk, I will discuss the antibacterial properties of oligoTEAs in detail by examining the kinetic phenomenon behind their mechanism of action and investigations into the effect of primary sequence, composition and structure on antibacterial properties.
Professor Alabi began his research career as an undergraduate student under the direction of Professor David Schuster at NYU. Upon receiving his B.S. in Chemistry from NYU and B.E. in Chemical Engineering from Stevens Institute of Technology, he went on to pursue a graduate degree in Materials Chemistry at California Institute of Technology with Professor Mark Davis. He then moved to MIT in 2009 and served as NIH Postdoctoral Fellow with Professor Langer and Anderson. Chris joined the Cornell faculty in 2013 as an Assistant Professor in the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. He has won several awards during his short tenure at Cornell including the PhRMA Foundation Research Starter Award, NSF CAREER Award, the 2016 Cornell Engineering Research Excellence Award and the 2017 Tau Beta Pi Professor of the Year Award (Cornell University).