I conducted my doctoral research on drug resistance mechanisms in Plasmodium falciparum under the supervision of Dyann Wirth (Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health) and Ralph Mazitschek (Massachusetts General Hospital).
Treatment of Plasmodium falciparum parasites with halofuginone (HFG) triggers a novel mode of drug tolerance in which intracellular proline levels are increased by 30-fold prior to any alteration in the target cPRS gene. My thesis project investigated the mechanism of this adaptive proline response (APR) using a variety of technologies including mass-spectrometry based metabolomics, CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing, molecular cloning and biochemical assays. I discovered that arginine biosynthesis of proline enables the APR, while making novel observations in other aspects of parasite metabolism. My findings suggest possible combination therapies that can help prevent resistance to HFG-like antimalarials currently in development. Furthermore, this integrated approach can be used to illuminate the emergence of drug resistance for other classes of compounds and in other organisms.
My general interest is at the intersection of metabolism and drug resistance, and I have deep experience in applying mass spectrometry to diverse areas of study. I previously worked on developing automated methods for proteomics workflows, including affinity purification for interactomics studies, post-translational modification analysis, and biomarker discovery and verification methods as a biochemist at the Broad Institute. I also have prior experience in vaccine target identification and characterization using proteomic methods and quantitative mass spectrometry for non-proteomic workflows.
I studied Chemistry at Emory College (BS, 2006), Biomedical Science at Rutgers University Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences (MBS, 2009), Health Systems & Policy at Rutgers University School of Public Health (MPH, 2011) and Chemical Biology at Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (PhD, 2019).