Dr. Eric Rubenstein
<b>Department: </b>Biology<br><b>Research Area: </b>Our research lab studies how cells recognize and destroy dysfunctional protein molecules before these proteins cause harm.<br>
Research Focus: Proteins accomplish the business of life. They are responsible for movement, reproduction, metabolism, andreading this paragraph. Many diseases (like diabetes and cholesterol-related disorders) are caused bydysfunction of proteins inside our cells. Our research lab studies how cells recognize and destroy dysfunctionalprotein molecules before these proteins cause harm.
Potential Student Project(s): One way proteins can exhibit dysfunction is by failing to reach their appropriate cellular destinations. Like a tunnel cutting across a mountain, cells have microscopic molecular channels called translocons that allow proteins to move from point A (where they are made) to point B (where they function). Sometimes, these channels become blocked, like a car crash at the entrance of a highway tunnel. Just as an automobile accident may make many commuters late for work by blocking tunnel access, clogged translocons can prevent numerous proteins from reaching their respective cellular job sites. Typical student projects involve identifying and characterizing the molecular tow trucks (enzymes) that unclog clogged translocons, allowing other proteins to get to where they need to be to do their jobs. These enzymes represent potential therapeutic targets for diabetes and cholesterol-related disease.
Attributes/skills/background sought in undergraduate:
- Dr. Rubenstein will meet individually each week with the student to discuss the student's plans and progress.
- The entire lab team will meet each week for lab meeting. In these meetings, students will practice communication skills, create a CV, discuss ongoing projects in the lab, and develop critical thinking and quantitative skills.
- Dr. Rubenstein will work with the student to develop scientific content knowledge, communication skills, and laboratory technique.
Contact: 765-285-8805, Foundational Science Building 403