Associate Professor of Chemistry
The Gao lab works in the general areas of organic chemistry and chemical biology. Specifically, we are interested in understanding and ultimately gaining control over the functions of cell membranes. As a defining feature of a cell, the cell membrane hosts close to one third of the entire proteome and mediates numerous signaling pathways. Our lab uses organic synthesis to create novel peptides and peptidomimetics that functionally mimic natural membrane proteins, including channel formers and lipid-targeting proteins. Research activities as such allow us to elucidate new chemical principles of protein-membrane interactions. Synthetic molecules that are active on biomembranes may also serve as novel antibiotics and tumor imaging agents.