I began my career as a research chemist, but after sustaining a spinal cord injury in a climbing accident, I switched to computational biology. I was particularly fascinated by protein and DNA structures, and my early work focused on understanding the recognition of telomeric DNA by proteins at the atomic scale. From here I went on to study the structure and dynamics of a huge range of bio-molecular structures, their behaviour, and their interactions. One highlight from this was the discovery of a new general form of allostery in proteins.
Gaining a broad mechanistic understanding of protein molecules got me thinking about designing new proteins. In the final years of my postdoctoral work, I designed a large range of proteins and invented protein design methodologies. Perhaps most notable was the design of a protein that mimics specific DNA sequences to target human transcription factors. My lab is interested in applying the tools of protein design to the challenges facing living cell design. We will design new components for cells that will allow them to sense and interact with new environments and perform novel functions. We aim to build living cell therapies that cure disease by continuously interacting with it.