Doctoral candidate Ariane Borges and Kim Nguyen ’22, M.S. ’23, who both work in Professor Arundhati Nag’s lab in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Program, recently attended the LEADS Conference of the American Chemical Society in Washington, D.C., where they met David MacMillan, the 2021 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry, and other Nobel laureates.
Borges’ research focuses on protein-protein interactions (PPI) that are essential for cell-signaling pathways. Mutations on proteins involved in PPI are hallmarks of different cancers, hence an increasing interest in inhibiting protein-protein interactions between oncogenic proteins (proteins that can potentially lead to cancer). She is working with Nag to use technologies that inhibit interactions between the SOS protein and the K-Ras protein — which is involved in cell-signaling pathways that control cell growth, proliferation, and apoptosis (cell death) and is often mutated into an oncogenic state.
After completing her Ph.D., Borges plans to start her career in the pharmaceutical industry focusing on chemotherapeutic drug development.
Nguyen is developing bifunctional molecules that aim to inhibit the aggregation of Amyloid beta in Alzheimer’s disease and also sequester metal ions that exacerbate the disorder. “This is a promising approach to further understand and design therapeutics for neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s,” she says. Nguyen is applying to Ph.D. programs in chemical biology/chemistry this year with the goal of a career in the pharmaceutical industry.