Associate Professor of Chemistry, Department of Chemistry, California Campus Scripps Research Institute
Rethinking the Paradigms of the Prebiotic Emergence of Biopolymers
Ph.D. (Chemistry), The Ohio State University, 1992
Research in our group is focused on the use of synthetic organic chemistry and methodology to:
- experimentally address questions concerning the origins of life with respect to the advent of functional monomers and the emergence of informational polymers.
- fashion artificial informational polymers in order to expand the interface between synthetic nucleic acids and the natural biopolymers (proteins and RNA/DNA).
- make available novel molecular tools that may provide new avenues for probing biological systems and for research in synthetic biology.
Understanding how life’s molecules arose on the early Earth has, historically, been shaped by our knowledge of current biology and biomolecules. However, this “top-down” purposeful approach is limited by its focus only on biomolecules and recapitulating biochemical pathways in a primordial setting. A complementary approach is to consider and include other potentially primordial compounds that would have naturally formed alongside the biologically relevant molecules. The lecture will highlight, with examples from the CCE work, how this non-purposeful “bottom-up” approach has been successful in modeling the natural emergence of biopolymers as a result of chemical evolution.