"Structural biology has a vital and exciting position in drug discovery: we help our scientists visualize how and why their molecules work the way they do."
I started my scientific career at the University of Wisconsin, followed by a move to the San Francisco Bay area for graduate and postdoctoral studies at Stanford University. I worked in neurobiology and cell biology labs before finally settling on biochemistry and structural biology as my scientific calling. For as long as I can remember I’ve been interested in kinase signaling pathways, starting with the ATR replication stress signaling pathway as a graduate student, followed by a dive into cytokine signaling pathways as a postdoctoral fellow. As a postdoc I was drawn to work on cytokine signaling because of the significance of these pathways in cancer and autoimmune diseases. I came to Genentech to put my knowledge and skills to use in helping understand how our drugs work at a molecular level.
Since joining Genentech in 2010 I’ve worked on diverse small molecule and antibody projects in immunology, cancer immunotherapy, neurobiology and infectious disease, while continuing pursuit of a molecular understanding of cytokine signaling. I feel extremely lucky to have found a place where my work is exciting and important, my colleagues are unbelievably talented, and I get to learn something new about biology and drug discovery every day.
Nature Structural and Molecular Biology, 2014, 21(5):443–448.
My lab utilizes biochemistry, structural biology, and biophysical methods to investigate protein-protein and protein-small molecule interactions of therapeutic interest. Our major activities include crystallography and structural analysis of small molecule/protein interactions for small molecule project teams, antigen design and crystallography support for large molecule (antibody) drug discovery projects, and advisory roles on a number of immunology, cancer immunotherapy, and infectious disease programs across Genentech.
In addition, we have a basic research focus revolving around the structure and function of receptor-coupled kinase signaling cascades involved in innate and adaptive immunity. How an extracellular molecular recognition event such as cytokine binding to a receptor is translated into an intracellular phosphorylation cascade is a fascinating and poorly-understood phenomena. We seek to understand how these events are initiated and regulated, with the hope that our insights will lead to more specific and effective ways to target these pathways with therapeutics.