Dr. Sulchek's research focuses primarily on the measurement and prediction of how multiple individual biological bonds produce a coordinated function within molecular and cellular systems. There are two complementary goals. The first is to understand the kinetics of multivalent pharmaceuticals during their targeting of disease markers; the second is to quantify the host cell signal transduction resulting from pathogen invasion. Several tools are developed and employed to accomplish these goals. The primary platform for study is the atomic force microscope (AFM), which controls the 3-D positioning of biologically functionalized micro- and nanoscale mechanical probes. Interactions between biological molecules are quantified in a technique called force spectroscopy. Membrane protein solubilized nanolipoprotein particles (NLPs) are also used to functionalize micro/nano-scale probes with relevant biological mediators. This scientific program requires the development of enabling instrumentation and techniques, which include the following:
- Advanced microscopy and MEMs;
- Nanomechanical linkers, which provide a convenient platform to control biomolecular interactions and study multivalent molecular kinetics;
- Biological mimetics, which provide a simple system to study cell membranes and pathogens.
Ultimately, this work is used to optimize molecular drug targeting, improve chem/bio sensors, and develop more efficient pathogen countermeasures.