Biomimetic Chemistry: Conformationally-defined biopolymers
We are inspired by the beauty and complexity of nature’s biopolymers to develop new approaches in the design of macromolecules. Although chemists have successfully synthesized polymers with a wide variety of functional groups, they have not attained the sequence-specificity and monodispersity of proteins and nucleic acids. Conversely, protein chemists have been constrained by the lack of chemical diversity in the set of monomers specified by the genetic code. Research in my group seeks to overcome these obstacles. We are creating new classes of macromolecules that integrate the desirable characteristics of biopolymers and synthetic polymers. Our goals are to find new avenues for the study of self-organization in macromolecules and to create innovative research tools for chemical biology, molecular pharmacology and materials science. Notable advances include the discovery of conformational ordering in N-substituted peptoid oligomers. Ongoing projects include the development of new therapeutic strategies for bacterial pathogens and prostate cancer.