Eric Kohn’s Thesis Defense

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Reach out to Eric Kohn if you want the Zoom link
@ 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm

Molecules that grab onto other molecules, known as receptors, are the foundation of critical medical tools from cheap diagnostic kits (e.g. for COVID-19 infection, pregnancy) to types of modern medicines known as biologics. Aptamers are a type of receptor made from nucleic acids, such as DNA. Although aptamers are more robust, reproducible, and cost-effective alternatives to antibodies (a kind of protein-based receptor), they aren’t used as much because of nucleic acids’ lower chemical diversity and the need to engineer new aptamers to suit many applications. My thesis focuses on overcoming these challenges by developing new strategies for quickly discovering aptamers with desirable properties.
In part one of this talk, I’ll discuss how our efforts to chemically modify aptamers so they can bind proteins more tightly led us to an overlooked functional group that improved the aptamer’s grip through a novel interaction. In part two, I’ll talk about our ongoing work inventing the first selection method for discovering split aptamers, which are especially useful for incorporating into sensors.