Faculty conversations: Lisa Lapidus
Lisa Lapidus’s field of study is biological physics, the physical processes of life, and she is particularly interested in studying and researching protein folding.
Within your body, chains of amino acids fold up into 3-dimension proteins, and these protein structures then are put to some use in the cell.
“It happens all the time, in every one of your cells,” Lapidus said. “So understanding how that happens in very important just from understanding the process of life.”
It is also important to understand what happens when protein folding goes wrong, because that results in diseases such as Alzheimer’s, cystic fibrosis, Parkinson’s and many more.
“If we can figure out how to prevent that from happening by better understanding protein folding, we can do a lot to improve human health,” Lapidus said.
One area of protein folding that Lapidus is interested in studying further the aggregation of proteins. When the folding process goes wrong, proteins can develop a sticky patch and end up aggregating with other proteins, thus not completing its function in the cell. Lapidus is particularly interested in why this happens, and what it is physically about the protein that makes it likely to aggregate and how it could be prevented.