As a teacher, I try to create an environment where my students are relaxed and engaged. With lectures featuring not only the standard Powerpoint but skits and games as well, I endeavor to help the students both understand the material and to apply it to solve problems. My hope is that the students will want to be in my classes because they enjoy the atmosphere and see the practical importance of what they are learning.
My wife Joan and I run a joint research lab where we are trying to genetically improve the yeast Pichia pastoris, which is used to produce recombinant proteins of therapeutic, academic and commercial value. Scientists place the genes of different organisms into this yeast, and the yeast in turn expresses large amounts of the functional protein. For instance, this yeast is engineered to make proteins used in vaccines, treatment of cancer, and cheesemaking. Although this yeast is a popular host for recombinant protein expression, it still has some limitations, which we are trying to address. Currently, our lab focuses on the following areas:
1) understanding how a specific promoter (alcohol oxidase I or AOX1), which is used for protein production, works
2) engineering P. pastoris to be a better secreter of the foreign proteins it makes; and
3) collaborating with other scientists to make their desired proteins in P. pastoris.