George Mason Chemistry Welcomes Dr. Lee A. Solomon

George Mason Chemistry Welcomes Dr. Lee A. Solomon

The Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry gladly welcomes Dr. Lee A. Solomon to the department. His research lab will be on the Science & Tech campus (Manassas, VA).

Research Interests

                  • De Novo Protein Design
                  • Novel Protein Materials
                  • Molecular Biophysics
                  • Protein-DNA Interactions
                  • Enzyme Kinetics

 

In the Solomon lab we use protein design to study natural functions, create new protein-based materials and expand the capabilities of biology.

In nature, proteins carry out a vast array of chemical reactions with a limited set of tools. Understanding how this is done is the key to unlocking new medicines and therapies. However, studying natural proteins directly is difficult due to the high levels of complexity brought on by millions of years of evolution.

To get around this, we used artificial proteins that have been designed, not evolved. These simplified proteins do not carry any of the legacies of natural selection, making the effect of mutations easier to characterize. This approach is called de novo design. To study natural reactions, we start with simple scaffold proteins that have no function aside from folding and make stepwise mutations until we reproduce the targeted reaction. This bottom-up approach was able to successfully reproduce the oxygen binding function of myoglobin and neuroglobin in a simple 4-helix bundle. De novo design clarifies the roles of individual amino acids and chemical groups, paving the way toward powerful new catalytic reactions and biotechnologies.

We are also interested in applying de novo design to material science. Proteins can form long polymeric chains to combine their catalytic potential with the advantages of materials. We aim to generate functional and biocompatible materials to create new technologies and medicines. Again, we start with a simple system that has been designed and is not found in nature, called Peptide Amphiphiles. Small and iterative changes allow us to incorporate new functions and resolve the role of each atom we are using, while also leading to new therapies and technologies.

Education and Research Background:

Assistant Professor, George Mason University (2019- Present)

AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellowship (2017-2018)

Postdoctoral Research: Argonne National Laboratory (2014-2017)

Postdoctoral Research: University of Chicago (2014)

Ph.D.: University of Pennsylvania (2006-2013)

B.A./M.S.: (Combined) State University of New York (SUNY) at Buffalo (2001-2006)