My basic research interest concerns the structure and function of the essential actin-binding and scaffolding protein filamin A, defining its role in cell mechanics and in the integration of cell signaling reactions. We are developing filamin A reagents to permit examining its actin cross-linking and partnering functions with over 200 cellular components in isolation. In this effort we collaborate with Dr David Weitz, Department of Applied Physics, Harvard University, Dr Matthew Lang, Bioengineering Department, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and with Dr Jari Ylänne of the Protein Structure Department in the University of Jvyäskyla, Finland and with other investigators around the world who study specific filamin A binding-partners.
I collaborate with Dr Po-Shun Lee, Pulmonary Division, Brigham & Women’s Hospital on understanding the physiological role of plasma gelsolin, an abundant circulating isoform of a cellular actin-binding protein I discovered in 1979. Plasma gelsolin depletion precedes and predicts critical care complications in humans, and repletion of plasma gelsolin reduces mortality in animal sepsis models. I am the scientific founder of a company, Critical Biologics Corporation, that is testing the utility of plasma gelsolin as a “theranostic” (diagnostic and therapeutic) agent in human diseases.
My policy interest is to better understand and facilitate interactions between physicians, academic researchers and private companies, and to educate medical students and practitioners concerning the role of markets in medicine. To further this work, I have been appointed Senior Fellow of the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research.
I have established a sickle cell disease clinical and research center in collaboration with physicians at University Teaching Hospital, University of Zambia, Lusaka Zambia (http://www.zamsickle.org/).