Thesis title: Molecular Structural Insights of Polyglutamine-rich Amyloid-like Fibrils using UV Resonance Raman Spectroscopy

Graduation date: June 2016

MBSB PhD Advisor: Dr Sanford Asher (Dept. Chemistry; University of Pittsburgh)


Research Interests: 

David worked on the development of UV Resonance Raman (UVRR) spectroscopic methods to study amyloid fibril structure and aggregation kinetics.  UVRR is exquisitely sensitive to protein/peptide conformations and can be used to selectively probe the electronic structure of UV-absorbing chromophores. 

His my main research focus was the aggregation mechanism(s) of polyglutamine (polyQ) peptides and how they lead to amyloid fibril formation.  There are at least nine neurodegenerative diseases associated with expansions in polyQ repeat segments of proteins.  These simple polyQ peptides are useful model systems for studying the fundamental biophysics of larger, more complicated polyQ rich protein systems. Another focus was on the development of instrumentation for use in studying new biological systems with UVRR.  For this, he worked on creating a high-resolution, high-throughput UV double monochromoter to study biologicals with ~200 nm-excited UVRR and on refurbishing a picosecond Nd:YAG laser so that it can directly probe picosecond dynamics of model peptides and organic molecules.

Current location: postdoctoral researcher in the Frontiera lab at the University of Minnesota.


B.S., Molecular Biology/Biochemistry, University of Pittsburgh, 2009
Ph.D., Molecular Biophysics & Structural Biology, University of Pittsburgh, 2016