Educational and Administrative Activities
Since closing my research laboratory in 2003, I have dedicated my efforts to teaching, curriculum design and educational research. Beginning in 2010 I have served as Assistant Dean of Curriculum for the medical school, focusing on the basic science components. I am privileged to teach biochemistry to medical students, graduate students and Physician Assistant students. My passion is teaching metabolism from an intuitive perspective, with a strong emphasis on practical nutrition. While many view metabolism as a tedious task in memorizing pathways, I view it as a central component of physiology that is beautifully logical. As such, one of my current projects involves a collaboration with colleagues at Stanford, UCSF and members of the Association of Biochemistry Educators (ABE) and the National Board of Medical Examiners to introduce a metabolic map on course level exams, as well as national licensing exams. We view a metabolic map for biochemistry as analogous to a periodic table for chemistry; providing each of these tools during learning and assessment promotes the development of problem-solving skills while de-emphasizing pure recall.
Prior Research Program
From 1993 to 2003 my lab studied the mechanism of enzymes that alter chromosome structure. Our initial studies involved mostly steady-state and pre-steady-state kinetic analysis of DNA topoisomerase II (topo II). These studies were aimed at understanding how this enzyme utilizes the energy from ATP to transport one duplex of DNA through a transient break in another. We discovered that this homodimeric enzyme, with two identical ATP binding sites, acts asymmetrically with the two ATP hydrolyzed sequentially at different times during the reaction cycle.
These kinetic studies of topo II led us to two other projects. One of these was a genetic analysis of the involvement of topo II in the development of chromosome translocations. We developed a genetic selection for chromosome translocations using S. cerevisiae as our model organism. This selection system allowed us to analyze the involvement of DNA recombination, replication and repair proteins in chromosome translocations. The second project was a biochemical analysis of the complex of proteins that condense chromosomes. We purified and analyzed the condensin complex from yeast in an attempt to determine how it interacts with DNA and utilizes ATP in a mechanism that results in chromatin condensation.