Protein design the focus of Knight Campus hire

Protein design the focus of Knight Campus hire

A computational biochemist developing new tools to enhance human life is one of two faculty members to recently join the University of Oregon’s Phil and Penny Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact.

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Parisa Hosseinzadeh’s work is centered around protein design. Rather than wait for a protein to perform a desired function, scientists such as Hosseinzadeh aim to engineer proteins that can address the needs of our century. Such novel proteins could form new materials and be used as biosensors and therapeutics, potentially leading to new treatments or earlier detection of cancer and other serious diseases.

Hosseinzadeh’s research, with interdisciplinary approach to discovery, spans biology, chemistry and data science. Her work meshes well with the direction of the Knight Campus, said Robert Guldberg, vice president and Robert and Leona DeArmond Executive Director.

“It’s Parisa’s ability to make connections among scientific fields and quickly apply that knowledge that makes her stand out,” Guldberg said. “We’re so happy  to have her at the University of Oregon and the Knight Campus.”

As a postdoctoral fellow in the lab of David Baker at the University of Washington’s Institute for Protein Design, Hosseinzadeh helped develop new computational tools to design cyclic peptides and used these peptides as specific inhibitors to target enzymes/proteins.

Before joining UW, she worked on rational design of metalloproteins in the lab of Yi Lu at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign as a graduate student. She received her bachelor’s degree in Biotechnology from University of Tehran, Iran.

Ultimately, Hosseinzadeh said, she hopes her work will lead to more accessible, effective and widespread detection and treatments of diseases with lower emotional and financial burden on patients.

“As a scientist, my ultimate goal is to use my expertise to enhance our quality of life. The emphasis of the Knight Campus on improving quality of life through interdisciplinary collaboration attracted me,” she said. “I am excited to work with the already accomplished collection of colleagues in what is an amazing place dedicated to societal benefit.”

Hosseinzadeh has been an active voice for increasing diversity and inclusion in STEM, and is invested in empowering women scientists and international students.

“Our work right now is critical, scientifically and socially,” she said. “On so many fronts, I am excited to make a difference at the Knight Campus.”

Hosseinzadeh joins Jonathan Reeder as a new member of the faculty at the Knight Campus.