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Springside School

2009 Kleckner Scientist in Residence


Dr. Caroline Koehrer
Department of Biology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Teacher Workshop:
Antibiotics, human disease, and protein engineering:
New insights into protein synthesis
Tuesday ■ May 5 ■ 4:15 to 5:15 pm
Dr. Koehrer’s workshop will focus on many of her
research interests described below, with cutting-edge
applications for their use in biology, chemistry, and related courses.

Dr. Koehrer was born and raised in Austria, where she attended the University of Innsbruck and received a master’s
degree and Ph.D. in Microbiology. In 1997, she joined Professor RajBhandary’s lab in the Department of Biology at the
Massachusetts Institute of Technology as a postdoctoral associate and as a a research scientist since 2002. Her courses
with MIT students include Antibiotics, Toxins, Protein Engineering and the Ribosome, and she has been a popular in-
structor at MIT’s Summer Science and Engineering Program for Teachers.

“My research focuses on various aspects of protein synthesis, to deepen our basic understanding of how proteins are made
in all living cells from bacteria to humans and to apply this knowledge to innovative new techniques of protein engineer-
ing and drug design. It has always been my goal to combine basic research with its practical application in medicine and
biotechnology. Most recently, I edited a book entitled Protein Engineering which was released at the end of last year.”

❖ Research Interests ❖
❖ Development of methods for site-specific insertion of amino acid analogues into proteins in prokaryotic and eukaryotic
systems: This adds a new dimension to studies of protein structure, function, protein-protein interactions and protein lo-
calization and provides a powerful tool for the design of proteins with novel chemical and biological properties (protein
engineering). ❖ Studies on translation in bacteria, archaea and eukaryotic organism with a particular focus on the role
of the transfer RNA (tRNA). ❖ Development of suppressor tRNA-mediated therapy: Many human diseases are caused
by nonsense mutations that lead to the generation of truncated, functionally inactive or less active proteins. Examples are
Cystic Fibrosis and Muscular Dystrophy. We are investigating the possibility of using suppressor tRNAs in combination
with other treatments to restore synthesis of full-length protein. ❖ Identification of new antibacterial drug targets.

Springside School ❖ 8000 Cherokee Street ❖ Philadelphia, PA 19118 ❖ www.springside.org