HOUSTON, March 6, 2014 Working toward new therapies to target cancer and Alzheimer's, University of Houston (UH) physicist Margaret Cheung strives to understand the physics that govern how ordinary matter becomes life-like. Cheung was recently named a fellow of the American Physical Society (APS). Her award was presented March 4 at the annual meeting of the APS Division of Biological Physics in Denver.
"If we can understand how life functions at a molecular level in the clutter of a cellular environment, then we can use this knowledge for drug design to intercept pathways of biological processes inside cells at a nano level before symptoms develop," Cheung said. "Understanding the structures and enzymatic activity of proteins inside a cell is important to shed light on preventing, managing or curing certain diseases at a molecular level."
Cheung, an associate professor of physics in the UH College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, has been performing research in the field of biophysics since 1997, studying the behavior of biological molecules in cells. Honoring her years of hard work and dedication, the APS citation commends her for contributions to modeling and simulations necessary to achieve a comprehensive understanding of the folding, structure and function of protein in a cellular environment.
Her research examines the travels of proteins and how their actions inside a cell may impact the development of disease. To do this, she uses computer simulations and physics modeling, as well as collaborates with experimentalists in the Texas Medical Center to probe, detect and predict the behavior of these proteins.
"When strategies to manipulate signaling proteins become available, there is hope in being able to control cell growth and cell death by appropriately disordering the cellular environment, thereby directing the activation or suppression of certain signaling pathways," Cheung said. "This is important to ma
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University of Houston