Biocatalysis, Chemical Biology, Protein Engineering, Directed Evolution, Unnatural Amino Acid Mutagenesis,
B.S. Chemistry, Biology, & French, Purdue University (2002); Ph.D. Chemistry,
The Scripps Research Institute (2008); NIH Postdoctoral Fellow, California Institute of Technology (2009-2012)
Research in the Brustad group spans the interface of chemistry and biology. We are particularly interested in applying chemical principles to expand biological systems beyond Nature's design. Current efforts are aimed at exploring non-natural enzyme catalysis, biosensor design, as well as methods for selective protein modification. An underlying goal of this research is to develop useful biological tools that augment the capabilities of the cell, e.g. through the development of novel biosynthetic pathways.
Our research relies heavily on combining methods in synthetic organic chemistry, molecular biology, structural biology and protein engineering. We make use of developing technologies such as unnatural amino acid mutagenesis and non-natural cofactor design to increase the chemical functionality available to proteins.
Current efforts are directed towards the genetic incorporation of organocofactor mimics and non-natural organocatalysts, as well as heme protein engineering through the incorporation of orthogonal metalloporphyrin scaffolds. At the heart of all of this, we use structural biology in combination with directed evolution to optimize the function of our engineered proteins.