Engineering Biomaterials and Biocatalysts
Inspired by nature’s biopolymers, we engineer protein materials and biocatalysts. In the area of biomaterials, we focus on designing systems capable of self-assembling into nanoparticles, fibers and hydrogels that can be modulated by external stimuli. We investigate the fundamental self-assembly and molecular recognition capabilities of these systems. These biomaterials when interfaced with other materials, can significantly impact their physicochemical properties including mechanical properties. For biocatalysts, we have engineered enzymes (phosphotriesterases and cutinases) for improved stability, altered specificity and function through conventional rational design, the integration of non-canonical amino acids as well as computational approaches. These methods offer different options for controlling enzyme structure and function, with opportunities for tailormade biocatalysts.
Jin Kim Montclare is a Professor in the Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Chemistry, Biomaterials and Radiology at New York University. She is performing groundbreaking research in engineering proteins to mimic nature and, in some cases, work better than nature. She exploits nature’s biosynthetic machinery and evolutionary mechanisms to design new artificial proteins. Her lab focuses on two research areas: (1) developing protein biomaterials and (2) engineering functional proteins/enzymes for particular substrates. Dr. Montclare leads the multidisciplinary Convergence of Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) Institute. She has garnered several awards and honors including but not limited to the Air Force Young Investigator Award, ACS Women Chemists Committee Rising Star Award, AIMBE College of Fellows, the AAAS Leshner Fellowship on Human Augmentation and most recently inducted into the National Academy of Inventors.