• 12025
1979 …2023

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Research interests

Pathways to Natural Products -
The lab investigates how plants make natural products. These chemicals frequently are used as medicines, either as pure compounds by pharmaceutical industry, or as mixtures in traditional medicines. Selected natural products are currently being investigated in the laboratory in mature plants and in tissue and cell culture. We participate in national and international projects that involve deep transcriptome sequencing of medicinal plants (http://uic.edu/pharmacy/MedPlTranscriptome/, http://www.medplantrnaseq.org/, http://www.onekp.com/, http://medplants.ncgr.org/) using next generation sequencing technologies and in developing bioinformatic approaches to interrogating these datasets for biochemical pathway genes. This research is aimed at understanding the formation of medicinal compounds in selected plants at the enzyme and gene levels, which is central to improving the production of pharmaceuticals either in planta or in a heterologous host such as yeast or bacteria.

Synthetic Biology Platforms in Camelina Seed -
We are developing a synthetic biology platform in an oilseed. Camelina sativa (camelina) is an emerging low-input nonfoodstuff Brassicaceae oilseed crop that grows on marginal land or can be used as a rotation crop on fallow land. Historically cultivated in Europe, it is now grown in northwestern regions of the United States and Canada and is considered a practical agronomic oilseed crop. Camelina is genetically similar to the model dicot Arabidopsis thaliana and is likewise genetically transformed by the facile floral dip method. Introduction of trait genes into camelina can be achieved with limited time and resource investment, making this plant an attractive engineering platform for novel seed composition. We propose that camelina oilseed can be engineered to produce and accumulate a vast array of natural products, including cyclic hydrocarbons and medicinals.


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  • PhD/MSTP Students


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