Sandeep Patel, assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of Delaware, has received a prestigious Faculty Early Career Development Award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to support his research using novel computer modeling methods to study the biophysics of model cell membranes, with particular focus on cell-penetrating peptides.
The award also will support the purchase of a computer cluster for Newark (Del.) High School and the development of a new computational-chemistry course to be offered there. Plans call for the course to be team-taught by Patel and two veteran high school science teachers, Stewart Dotts and Robert McDowell, who hope to offer the class in fall 2013.
The highly competitive NSF Career Award recognizes junior faculty members for their role as teacher-scholars and is given to those scientists and engineers considered most likely to become the academic leaders of the 21st century.
"All of our bodies are composed of cells, and between the inside and outside of a cell is what one can loosely consider a barrier, the cell membrane," Patel said in explaining the foundation of his research. "Certain types of moleculeshydrophilic, or 'water-loving,' small molecules and highly charged peptidescan be observed in the membrane, moving very quickly through it, even though it's a very unfavorable environment for them."
There is evidence in the literature, Patel said, suggesting that the transfer of these molecules occurs in the absence of any energy-coupled pathwaysin other words, without any help. "This is a rather non-intuitive behavior for such chemical species, and has garnered attention from experimentalists, computational chemists and theorists," Patel said.
In seeking to understand this phenomenon, his group is using computer modeling of interactions between individual atoms to obtain atomic-level insights into how various chemical species suppor
|Contact: Andrea Boyle Tippett|
University of Delaware